I read an article some time ago that addressed how to stay looking stylish without succumbing to every new fad. It was addressing the contentment that comes with accepting the styles that work for your body proportions and lifestyle. Having just crossed the 50-year old threshold, I want to dress my age, be appropriate, and all of those things you hear being said. But I also want some fun items in my wardrobe that are unexpected as I am still defining my style and trying things out.
The tunic style is being worn by young to old(er) and that tells me it has a timeless and ageless look. For a while I thought, ‘Why would I want excess fabric at my hips?’ but then I made one and found the opposite to be true. The bottom of the tunic falls just below the hip line and helps to disguise a common problem area.
I would not say my style is edgy by any means, but I do like these handkerchief hem tunics. You can dress them up or wear them with leggings, heels or flats, and they always receive compliments. When I saw this gray and cream abstract print at my local mill end store SAS Fabrics, I envisioned making a top like this.
I chose McCalls 6398 view B because it had an interesting yoke where I could use a different fabric. It must be a good seller as it has made the cut in the pattern books for over 2 years. I chose an oatmeal colored knit from my stash because it was easier to match and more flattering against my face than the gray color.
Okay, so the fabric isn’t really flowing here. It’s hung up on my high bum area, but i’ll just keep walkin’. The sides swish around when I walk, so I’ll just hope people focus on that and think happy thoughts.
This necklace is a mix of all gray toned, silver and black chain. I bought from Stein Mart last year and I wear it more that I would have guessed. I have also paired this with a long strand of pearls.
I recommend this top for anyone looking for a quick and satisfying knit top. I made no changes the the pattern. I stitched up the size 14 to make sure there was enough fabric to drape nicely. It lends itself well to color blocking and using up the smaller scraps of knit in the stash. The yoke inset only takes 1/2 yard.
Do you have a timeless garment in your wardrobe that works for most occasions?
What you can’t see here is that this bag stays closed by recycling a used tape measure from a home improvement center. Fortunately, my husband had one he was happy to donate. The measurements are 8″ Width x 6″ Height x 2″ Depth. As with any sewing project, there is room to personalize and modify to your specific needs. The dimensions can change if you wish, but I recommend making one first and then you will know what measurements need to change for the second bag. Add embroidery, eliminate the 2″ box pleat, use up to three fabrics, or omit the prairie point handles and sew a loop, hair tie as the handle, etc. The choice is yours.
1.) Quilted Fabric (or fabric and batting to quilt your own) 9″ x 14.5″ This is the outer bag fabric.
2.) Lining Fabric 9″ x 18.5″ This fabric covers the measuring tape across top of bag.
3.) Side Loop Handle 2.5″ x 4.5″ Can be lining or outer fabric-your choice.
4.) Wrist handle (Optional) 11″ x 2.5″.
5.) Handles (Prairie Points) Cut Two 4.5″ x 4.5″ (Same fabric as lining)
6.) Coordinating thread for both fabrics
7.) Fusible Interfacing 9′ x 2″ (Use up small scraps of left over interfacing and piece together)
8.) 1′ Tape measure from hardware store. (Check to see what screwdriver or tapered cross tip screwdriver to have handy to undo outer case of tape measure)
9.) Roll of tape (either electrical or blue painter’s tape to cover tape measure ends)
10.) Sharp, heavy duty utility scissors (to cut tape measure)
11.) Ruler (to draw quilt lines if quilting your own fabric)
12.) Chalk or water soluble marker (to draw quilt lines)
Prepare your pattern pieces
Step 1 Prepare Pattern Pieces using tissue, medical paper, newsprint, etc.
All measurements are based on a 1″ tape measure. Adjust if you use a 3/4″ measuring tape. My Sharpie drawings are not as clear as the measurements stated above, so this is just to show you what the pattern pieces should look like.
Cut out pieces
Step 2. Cut Out Main Pattern Pieces To Tissue Measurements EXCEPT Batting And Outer Fabric If You Are Going To Quilt It. Leave some extra fabric and batting on all sides until quilt stitching is completed. Trim to pattern piece dimensions after quilting. Step 3. Using The Ruler, Draw Line From One Corner To the Other In 1″ Lines Using a quilt guide or lines drawn on the fabric, stitch the quilting lines to sew batting to outer fabric. Click here to see another example of quilting your own outer fabric.
Faint chalk line from corner to corner
You can barely see the chalk line-this is what you want. Pin batting along the line to secure. Move pins as you sew each line until all stitching is complete. Step 4. Stitch quilt lines. I like to set my stitch length to 3.0 and use a quilting bar that I can set to the 1″ mark, helping me to speed up the sewing process a little.
1″ quilted lines
Trim off excess
Step 5. Trim off excess to match the pattern tissue measurement (9″ x 14.5″). I used a rotary cutter and ruler but scissors work just fine.
Press the 2″ strip of interfacing
Step 6. Press the 2″ fusible interfacing to the top edges of wrong side of lining. This is where I use up the leftover small scraps of interfacing from other projects. This will also help the tape measure from cutting through the edges of bag.
Turn top edge down 5/8″
Step 7. Layer lining and quilted fabric, wrong sides together and press lining down 5/8″ towards quilted piece. Set aside for a moment. Step 8. Prepare prairie points by folding the 4.5″ square in half. Step 9. Fold up lower left corner up to center. Press. Step 10. Fold up right corner and bring to center, creating prairie point. The folded edges should be parallel to each other and touching and raw edges should be even. Press.
Pressed 1.25″ over quilted fabric edge
Step 11. Fold down the top edge 1.25″ to cover raw edge of quilted front. Center prairie points and insert raw edge here under the folded edge. Secure with fusible tape or pins to keep anything from moving before the stitching. Refer to finished bag photo if needed to see placement.
Stitch through all layers
Step 12. Stitch close to folded edge, leaving room for tape measure to slide through. Test before stitching. (Prairie points don’t show here, but they are sewn on both top edges in the center to be used as handles/decoration.)
Step 13. Prepare Side Loop. Fold loop, right sides together and stitch down long die leaving ends open. Grade seam allowances.
Safety pin to help turn
Step 14. Attach a safety pin to one edge of the tube. Use the safety pin to turn the tube right side out by sliding through to other side.
Side Loop ready for pressing
Step 15. After loop is right side out, press flat. Remove pin. Fold in half bringing raw edges together.
Step 16. Baste Loop to front of bag. With raw edges together, place loop 1/2″ right below top band. Baste with an 1/8″ seam allowance. This will be sewn permanently when side seams are sewn up.
Sew up side seams
Step 17. Sew up ONE SIDE SEAM only. I ran my finger down inside the bag from top to bottom to smooth out any tucks. Pin. Stitch in a 1/4″ seam allowance making sure to back-stitch enthusiastically at the top edge. Step 18. Cut tape measure into two (2) pieces measuring 8″. Test length by inserting into the casings to see if there is at least a 1/4″ seam allowance. If not, trim to fit. Remove tape pieces. Step 19. Using utility scissors, slightly round edges to remove sharp edges/corners. Step 20. Tape edges with electrical tape or painter’s tape. This is a very important step. I did not do this on my first bag and the corners are working their way through the material.
Sew up side seams
Step 21. Insert tape measure pieces back into casings (like Step 15) pushing them in as far as possible to give ample room to sew on remaining seam allowance. NOTE: MAKE SURE THE TAPE MEASURE PIECES ARE INSERTED WITH THE BLANK SIDES OF TAPE (“C” SHAPE) FACE THE LINING SIDE. THE NUMBERED SIDES (“U” SHAPE) ARE FACING THE QUILTED SIDE OF BAG. The “C” shape sides of the tape kissing each other create the ‘snap’ . Step 22. Prepare to sew up other side seam. Fold bag in half RST, pin, making sure the side loop is on the inside of the bag and all raw edges are even. Make sure there are no tucks. The top edge gets the most wear-and-tear so once again, back-stitch enthusiastically. Step 23. Serge or zig zag raw side seams to cleanly finish. Step 24. Prepare mitered corners.Keeping the rights sides together, pull apart bag at lower edge fold (base of bag) with one hand on front of bag and one hand on back of bag until the side seam looks like the picture. My thumb is on the side seam and my index finger is on the base of the bag. This creates a triangle-looking area on the inside of the bag, but a nice miter on the outside, allowing the bag to sit up by itself. Measure across 2″ or 1″ on both sides of seam, pressing seam allowance to one side. Mark the line. Step 25. Sew across triangle/miter. Trimming corner is optional. I left my triangle in place to give the base of the bag more substance. Repeat for other side. Step 26. Turn right side out. This will take a little muscle because the tape measure doesn’t want to bend this way. Work it until the bag inverts. Add seam sealant to upper seam allowances.
This is McCalls 6700 out of a wild ethnic-looking print I found at my local mill end store SAS Fabrics. It was very easy to sew up although a made a few changes:
1.) In hindsight, I need to add more length to the bodice since most bodices run a little short on me. I didn’t think I would need to because the cross-over surplice tops need to fit snuggly to avoid the cleavage reveal, but I was wrong.
2.) I also attached the front to the back at the shoulder seams with twill tape to stabilize instead of with elastic like the pattern suggested.
3.) I tacked the center front and the center back and stand up straight a lot.
Belt: Michael Kors from Ross, chevron bracelets from Bohme Boutique.The back ties are needed to keep the shoulder straps from falling down. I just tied them in a bow and knotted them so I never have to adjust them again. I didn’t make side slits this time because I could wear this into fall with boots and a jacket or sweater.
Overall, I like the dress and might make it again, but I have other maxi dress patterns I would like to try as well. Even though I’m not as comfortable in sleeveless tops and dresses, this will layer well and has been a good dress for our hot summer weather. Brown will be a color I incorporate more into my wardrobe and you just may see it styled differently this Fall!
It has been 2 years since I started hosting our little gathering on Friday nights. I am so grateful for the time we spend together. Our lives are busy and we still make time to sew our individual projects while laughing and sharing bits of our lives together. Check out how tis all began here.
Sharing tips on quilt binding
Techniques and tips are offered, but not just about sewing. Sometimes we share successful recipes, doctors to avoid, sales going on, or activities in town to go see.
Having too much fun
And sometimes we cut loose and say stuff that shocks!
Eat, Sew, Visit
So, I congratulate all of us for making this a priority and developing our sewing as well as our friendships.
This may be one of my easiest tutorials on this site…..talk about addictive! These can be made in 30 minutes once you get the hang of it. The fabric can be a knit or woven, which means the width can vary from 45″-60″. I prefer knits because they are soft on the neck, don’t wrinkle, and can be stretched to get over your head. They can even wrap three times making a collar, if desired. The slideshow shows some of the recent remnants-turned-neck-jewelry I’ve made and their finished widths so you can see how they drape. (the navy/white knit and multi stripe knit are wrapped three times because they are narrow).
What you will need to get started:
1.) Sewing machine
2.) Fabric of your choice-remnants of 1 yard or less
3.) Matching thread
4.) Hand sewing needle
7.) Iron (optional, but provides better results)
I will list the steps here and then show pictures to help clarify. Step 1.) Fold fabric in half lengthwise, bringing selvages together. This will be a seam allowance width away from your finished width that sits around your neck. For example: 1/2 yard of fabric (18″) will make a 9″ scarf.
Step 2.) Square up fabric so it is the same measurement in width from the selvages to the fold.
Selvages together, RST, pin
Step 3.) Pin lengthwise raw edges, leaving 2-4″ near the selvage open. This will be the opening for turning right side out. Step 4.) Sew lengthwise edge except for the 2-4″ opening. Step 5.) Press seam allowance flat. Step 6.) Turn right side out. Step 7.) With RST(Right Sides Together), align selvages and pin together. This makes the loop. Step 8.) Sew just past the selvage with a 3/4″ seam allowance or enough to clear any markings of the selvage. Step 9.) Trim off any selvage. Step 10.) Press seam allowance either open or to one side, whichever is easier. Step 11.) Turn right sides out. Step 12.) With needle and thread, fold edges to inside and slip stitch opening closed.
Three piece ensemble, navy knit
Here is another option. I made a tank, shrug and infinity scarf out of the same material. The infinity scarf makes the tank look like a cowl neck and provides more warmth for chilly weather.
Remove and put in your bag when it gets warm.
This is a daily reminder for me to tackle any little annoyance, pay a bill, learn a new task, exercise, have patience for technology. For me, it helps me get stronger by keeping procrastination at arms length.
I’m sure there is a long post that could be written about the deeper meanings of procrastination, but let’s just leave it to the idea that smaller successes are better sometimes than the big ones because they happen. Some days, I need the boost a little victory can provide. So it’s time to put on my big girl panties, grow up and handle the tough stuff and be satisfied with scratching another task off the list.
Years ago in the early 90’s, I had my ‘colors done’ by someone who worked for Beauty for All Seasons. At that time, my hair was my natural shade of dishwater brown with blonde highlights. My eyes are green, and I was unaware of to what classification my complexion fit. This concept intrigued me and I wanted to give it a try. I did enjoy the process and found that this little swatch fan was useful and I’ve held on to it for all these years as a guide and that was the best part. Here are some reasons I found it to be a helpful process then and now.
1.) Keeps me focused.
I love color. I react to color. As a seamstress, you can see from my About Page, one little glimpse into my fabric stash shows I’m a fan. Prints, solids, texture. I love it all. Sometimes I get carried away and want it all. Every season, I see new colors that are ‘in’ and the retailers make these colors available to us in fabric and clothing. The problem is that I don’t have the space. This is why I could use a little direction. This may be why I have been fascinated with the wardrobe capsule idea which is a concept of a few key clothing items that mix and match with each other creating a much larger collection that meets the needs of one’s lifestyle. (More on the capsule wardrobe subject at another time.) I digressed….
Earlier this year, I had my colors done again by someone at the Puyallup Washington Stitching and Sewing Expo. Her opinion and expertise was backed by 25+ years of being in the color consulting field, claiming that her eye for color came naturally to her. Her swatches for me looked like this:
Main colors showing coloring contrast
This shows the basics: Hair, Blush, Eye, and Skin and the contrast levels between all four areas. This swatch set shows my coloring as more muted and softer with less contrast than the first color fan.
Based on my coloring, these are the recommended metals to wear: gold, gold/silver mix and rose gold. ( I live in the desert, so I’m opting for copper; a more-readily available color). Preferred metal textures are brushed/burnished.
Basic Neutrals and “Reds”
Groupings: Pastels to act as a bridge neutrals with basics of Navy and Soft Browns. My Reds are the blush colors. No true reds for me. More watermelons and corals.
Greens, Blues, Purples
Here are my lighter Greens, Blues and Purples. (My darker greens/blues are with the eye colors) No grays or black. Bummer. It’s not that I can’t wear these, and if I do, blend with the softer pastels to blend them better with my coloring.
I want to say that each of the swatches help me to think in color relationships. Ideally, the colors from each swatch should all go with one another making a seamless and flattering blend. This means hair color, skin tone, eye color, makeup shades and clothing working together seamlessly as a system. The goal is to pull yourself together with these colors in mind so that your best features shine and you look rested, healthy and radiant.
2.) Compare and Contrast
The first swatch group had key information written on the back of each color. See below: The Similarities. Old vs New
Hair color(s)=use Light and Dark versions of Hair Color to build wardrobe basics
Differences: Old vs New
Whites: Cream/Vanilla vs very Light Yellow
Grays: Charcoal and Light Gray vs no Grays
Metals: Silver vs Gold, Gold/Silver Mix, Rose Gold
Contrast: Higher vs lower
Undertone: Cool vs Warm
It’s tough to be objective. I can be my own worst critic and see myself very differently that others see me. I have worn both warm and cool undertone colors for years so soliciting input from someone else can throw a new spin on things. Both swatches have some color overlap and serve as a guidelines only. They are suggestions of flattering colors based on different sets of eyes and what they see as complimentary.
Many of the fashion and body image blogs I read are abut self awareness and self acceptance. Mass merchandisers pump out colors every season that may only look great on a small percentage of the population, so I may love a color, wear it, but something doesn’t feel right. It may not be the best color for my complexion, leaving me looking washed out, sickly or overpowered. I have worn true red and received compliments. Maybe they love the color red..? It got a reaction and that feedback can be a refreshing way to gain some insight on what suits me. I take it in and let it ruminate. Who doesn’t love a compliment now and then? 3.) Time To Rebel
Chuck it all. Forget it all. Or anything they said. Sometimes I wear what I’m in the mood for right then. No rhyme or reason. No one else needs to approve. Dressing should be fun and expressive and if I want to abandon all of the ‘shoulds’, then I go for it. Every once in a while, it feels great to rebel in a harmless way and wear something that is shocking or daring. No harm no foul. Even this step help define my style, what colors feel right and what fits into my life.
Would you pay a color consultant to give you their opinion?
Iriedescent Sea Glass, Green Crystal, White Pearls and Silver
Here is another creation from my recent purchases from this year’s Tucson Gem and Mineral February 2013 Show held here in Tucson. Every year, I vow to keep the spending under control. Well, I am usually unsuccessful. Or this may be subjective. The amount spent by one person may be outrageous to another. Anyway, there are always new and returning vendors with wonderful inventory from which to choose. The picture may not show it, but the color of these cubes are like moonstone; opaque white with a subtle coating of pinks, greens, purple, and blue. The green crystals came from a stretch bracelet I purchased at NY&Co. I cut the elastic, sorted the beads, bagged them, and you will see them in future posts I’m sure. The silver endcaps and pearls are from the stash. The chain was purchased at the Gem Show. Chain in all designs, metal finishes, price ranges are prevalent at many of the vendors. The rationalization is to buy it now and save on shipping, right???
Iridescent Sea Glass from the Tucson Gem Show
This necklace is neutral enough to be worn with denim, greens, white. It will be featured in the future with some sewing project to follow.
It is a day off and I get to sew! Today’s project is to whip up a quick dress for the sweltering heat. Does a dress with pockets ever get old? Never. I chose Project Runway Simplicity 1803. This is a very comfortable dress for the heat we experience in the desert. Fabric is a cotton from Hancock’s. The bodice has some interest and the skirt is full due to the gathers at the waist. The pockets are sewn closer to the center front in vertical seams rather than in the side seams. I prefer this method because it doesn’t add bulk to the hips. I lengthened the bodice by 1″ because I have a long torso and bodices always run a little short on me.
It is more loose fitting than the picture shows because I changed the side seams by cutting straight down from the armhole to the waist instead of tapering it in. It was easy to gather the skirt into the bodice, positioning most of the gathers in the front and back, and fewer on the sides. I did a centered zipper application because I had a standard 22″ zipper in my stash and I can install it pretty quickly.
This area needs to fit properly across the chest because if not, it will buckle open and not lay flat. A good way to check this is to compare the finished bust measurement on the pattern tissue to your full bust measurement. If possible, have someone hold the enter back seam together before installing the zipper. This will give you a good idea about the seam allowance needed to get the best fit.
This pattern has some cute options available. However, I find the calculations for the fabric to be a it generous by the time I add up all of the fabric needed for add-ons I want. There is WAY too much fabric required which leads me to my Tip-Of-The-Day: My Go-To Project Runway Pattern Method:
-Buy the Pattern First!
-Cut out all necessary tissue pieces and layout on your imaginary 45’/60″ widths. Measure yardage needed.
-THEN go to the store and buy fabric, trims, contrast fabric, etc.
Do you find the fabric requirements on Project Runways patterns accurate? How do you calculate accurately?
Coral Necklace wrapped three times equals a choker
This is an easy necklace to make. Wear it in the way that best suits your neckline and proportions. Simple stringing with a lobster claw clasp and chain allows the necklace to be lengthened or shortened and worn any way you want. Supplies were beads I had in my stash. Frankly, I just started stringing in a random pattern to use up all three feature bead types.
1.) Coral nuggets and glass beads from JoAnne’s in the same color
2.) Tangerine pearls
3.) Delica peach seed beads for spacing in between
4.) Beading wire (I used thin beading wire to fit through the pearls. I strung right from the spool not cutting until I ran out of beads)
5.) 2 Crimp beads
I wanted a simple necklace in the popular coral color and thought this would be a great accessory. Sometimes I just want to whip something up quickly but it often ends up as a simply-strung necklace that is boring. This can be mixed with other necklaces, or worn in the following 4 ways.
Coral Knotted Necklace
Double Strand Coral Necklace
Coral Necklace up close
Can you see the small seed beads in between beads?
Coral Necklace 44″ Long
Up close of barrel magnetic closure
This is the closure I found at Joanne’s. Not great gold quality, but very versatile. I can use the barrel magnetic closure to open or close by unscrewing one side from the other or use the lobster claw to adjust the lengths. I need to add crimp covers to make it look more finished. I was in a hurry to post this. I need to do my nails.
Extended to longest length using lobster clasps
Magnetic Lobster Clasp from Joann’s
The shortest length if worn in a single strand way is about 44″long.
Length is 44″
The chain adds another 4 inches or so which allows the necklace to be worn three times around neck like a choker.
Length is 48″Long
Coral Necklace wrapped three times=a choker
I hope you enjoyed this and learned something from it. Happy beading.
If you area fan of Project Runway, but want to see a different take on it without the drama and outlandish personalities, check out the Great British Sewing Bee. It is a BBC production but airs on You Tube. I highly recommend it. There are four episodes to Season One and Season Two will be airing in 2014.
Presenters and contestants on The Great British Sewing Bee
The humor is refreshing and the abbreviated version of Project Runway gets right to the point. The show invites beginning to seasoned level seamstresses and assigns realistic projects to complete in a few hours. There are two judges who critique honestly but also point out the positives of the overall appearance, adherence to the directions, similarities to garment industry techniques, drape, and fit of the project. It is a down-to-earth show about putting your sewing skills to the test so grab a hot ‘cuppa’ and cozy up on the couch. I viewed all shows in one day.
The best part, in my opinion, is the increased interest in sewing. Check out this great article to read about garment sewing resurgence due to this popular show. Even though this article references Solihull, England, I heard about this show from a student in my Sit & Sew group and have since enjoyed seeing the show referenced on other U.S. blog sites.
This article is written by someone who has sewn for 20 years and is encouraged by the show and hopes promote it will draw in non-sewers to give sewing a try. She also encourages the sewers to post easy projects on blogs, teach beginners and spread the word.
Here is one more (lengthy) article about the show, but with more criticism and over-intellectualizing than I care for—you decide.
It’s summer in Tucson and the recommended class is a fleece jacket! As a teacher for Jo-Ann’s, I teach projects selected by the corporation. I often wonder what is involved in the decisions when projects are selected. There is not enough time allotted in class for cutting out or making any fitting adjustments, which is a crucial part of the learning process for beginners. The end of class is spent explaining the finishing steps necessary to complete the project at home. My preference is that students get to bring home a completed project. How many of us have enough UFO’s (UnFinished Objects) at home already?
Anyway, Tucson can’t be the only area with over 100 degree temperatures, and yet this was the project to offer at the beginning level. On one of my recent visits to buy notions, I noticed how many customers were in line buying fleece! Who knew? Planning for the Fall projects, I suppose.
The view required for class is View A. This is an unlined jacket with some raw edges. Finishing seams with a serger or zig zag is optional but not necessary. It has great princess seams and a classic shape. Because the fleece is a little stretchy and very forgiving, setting the collar and sleeves can be done with little frustration. Small pockets can be added to hold keys or tissue, etc.
What are some of the my and hints? Because you asked:
1.) To keep seams to lay flat, I serged and top stitched them down to finish it nicely.
2.) Be sure to cut as carefully as possible so that there are no jagged edges ( or maybe use a rotary cutter/mat on the exposed edges if you want).
3.) The bow detail on the collar is a styling option. It is removable or it can be left off completely to have a standard shawl collar.
4.) Consider view A in a tweed if you’re looking for a retro look.
5.) The collar edges will have to be finished somehow or lined. Any of these styles will look great for early fall/winter layer over a tank or tee.
Back View of Simp 4032
Up Close View Of Bow, Raw Edges
6.) The bow consists of two tie pieces inserted into a slice in the upper jacket area and then tied with the collar enclosed in the knot. The nice touch here is that you can remove the ties and smooth out the collar and the slice does not show because it is under the shawl collar.
So even though it is a warm fabric to work with when the air conditioning is tirelessly working away, I suppose it is a good idea to plan now to have something sewn and ready for the chilly weather to arrive. This might explain why I am often not prepared for the upcoming season with newly sewn items!
This is a quick jacket to whip up and is great for gifts for friends who walk early in the morning, or need a layer to wear to the gym. Because it is an easy care fabric, you can keep it in the car for the unexpected weather change. I will consider making up any of these styles again.