Tag Archives: clothing

Sewing Classic Summer Apparel

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The Season of Casual Comfort

linen casual wear

I came across an old pattern in my pattern library from 1998.  I remember making the vest and not finishing it, because I didn’t like the fit…or lack of fit is more accurate.   I am always intrigued how something I once didn’t care for can take on a new life and become a new favorite; whoever said fashion is fickle was certainly onto something.  Rediscovery is always a good thing; it means I’m changing and growing and open to new ways of thinking.  I like that!

McCalls pattern

 I began with Mcall pattern 9278.  I used updated constructions methods which I talked about in my last post by eliminating the facing and using French seam applications on all interior seams and sleeves for a streamlined look.  To give support to the buttonhole areas I created small uniform patches and fringed the unfinished edges.
button patches
Behind the fashion button, I sewed a small support button to reduce wear on fabric.  You could also use small beads in a different color to add interest and artsy elegance, especially if you plan to wear the garment open.
button application
The hemline and center front edges were turned under 5/8 inches and stitched.  A bias binding made from the fashion fabric was applied to the sleeve opening and neckline.  I used a linen open weave pattern for the top applying the same constructions techniques.  It was quick and easy very versatile.
finishing detailslinen casual wear
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Sewing – New Season, New Skirt

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Fall Fashion

I love this time of year…  the week or so between the last dog-days of summer and the first prickle in the morning air which heralds the changing of the season.  As much as I enjoy summer, I’m always ready for transitioning into my fall wardrobe with all the bold and beautiful colors of the harvest, the earthy reds and golds and green the speak of hearth and home and bounty.  Oh my, I might have to burst into song if I go on, so let it suffice to say that I’m happy to carry on with my fall sewing.

Being seriously committed to not buying any new fabric until I’ve worked through a portion of my backlog, I went to my existing fabric stash for inspiration and came up with a great remnant of wool twill in, you guessed it, a rich autumnal gold.   I adore this color and twill texture;  I’ve used it in several suits in the past.  I’ve been sitting on it for quite some time waiting for just the right pattern to come along.   This week, inspiration finally arrived and here it the happy result.

I used Vogue 8363 skirt pattern view D.  I prefer skirts without waistbands, because I find them to be more comfortable.  Eliminating the waistband requires the creation of front and back waistline facings.  The pattern is unlined, so I also created a lining to attach to the facings.

I always line wool skirts both for giving shape and support to the wool and also for comfort.  A nicely constructed lining helps the skirt slide over the body and is more flattering, not to mention it just looks better to have the seams and interior work hidden from view in.  My feeling is that when working with quality fabrics, it’s worth the extra cost and effort to create a beautiful interior finish.

Once the lining was attached it was time to select buttons.  I have a rather large collection of vintage buttons inherited from a Great Aunt.  I used some of her buttons for this skirt.  I carefully measured and marked the buttonhole placement with basting thread and machine stitched the buttonholes.

After buttonholes were stitched, I clipped them open and sewing buttons in place being mindful of proper alignment.

As with all wool garments, I will take this in for a professional press which will put a nice finish on it.  But until then, I’m publishing several pictures to show you how versatile it will be in my fall wardrobe.  And best of all, it didn’t cost me a dime… it all came from what I had on had and that’s a great feeling.

Coat Making Tutorial – part 4 coat linings

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A Classic Pea Coat

Lining and Interior Finish

I selected a polyester fabric with a satin finish for my lining.   I actually prefer rayon linings especially when working with natural fibers, but I wasn’t able to find  the color I needed to complement the face fabric, so I opted for a synthetic.  In this tutorial, I will go over how to put in a lining with emphasis on  finishing details.

Step 1.  Once the lining is assembled, top stitch the seam line of the sleeve sewing on the sleeve piece (not the body of the lining) catching the seam allowance underneath.

Step 2.  With stitching completed,  turn to the inside and trim away the excess seam allowance.

Step 3.  On right side of fabric, pinch press seam and roll stitched line into sleeve.

Step 4.  Press entire seam to encourage the sleeve to roll towards the sleeve edge to create a smooth interior finish.  This helps the lining “ride” over the interior seam of the coat sleeve.

This shows the nice clean line you will get once it has been pressed.

Step 5.  Double breasted garments often include interior buttonholes on the inside facing to hold the front of coat in place.  Sew in buttonholes before attaching lining (it’s a lot easier before than after).  I use my machine for  buttonholes, because they will not be seen when wearing.Careful measuring for proper alignment is very important in this step.  

Step 6.  Attach back facing to collar at the neckline edge using hand stitching.

Step 7.  Insert shoulder pads and hand stitch into position.

Step 8.  Press 5/8 inch seam allowance under on sleeve edges and at the bottom of the lining before attaching it to the coat.

Step 9.  Pin lining to interior front and neck facings and stitch into position.

Step 10.  Use a machine basting stitch to sew in the lining in.  A long stitch is easier to remove for alterations or lining replacement. Leave an opening near the bottom of the front facing as shown below.

Step 11.  Turn lining to right side out and lightly press edges down, being careful not to over press.  Stitch lining at hem edge first and press, Then slip stitch down on both front facings as shown below.

Step 12.  Sew interior buttons into position using a flat button utility button.

Step 11.  Sew fashion buttons on front of coat paying careful attention to alignment.

Step 12.  Take to dry cleaners for a final press.  A professional press really adds to the look of the garment by smoothing out all construction wrinkles.  It is a must for any tailored garment.

So, it’s off to the cleaners.  Until next time, Happy Sewing!

Coat Making Tutorial – part 3 Bound Buttonhole

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Bound Buttonhole Finish

Now that I’ve completed my buttonholes I need to finish them on the inside of the garment.  Again, there are a couple of ways that I know of to accomplish this, and I will show you the method that works best for me.

Step 1.  Match up the front inside facing with the buttonholes and mark their positions.  I always do this by lining up the facing to the buttonholes, because there can be slight variations between the pattern markings and your actual buttonhole.  Once marked, cut a piece of silk organza in a strip (or if you prefer individual pieces) and pin it to the right side of the coat front.

2.  On the wrong side of the coat front, stitch in small stitch length a box the length and width of the buttonhole.

3.  Once stitched, cut through the organza and coat fabric down the center of the box creating a triangle cut at each end of the buttonhole.

4.  Cut through the organza strip which will allow you to turn the fabric through the buttonhole to the inside.

5.  Press organza away from opening to create a window and baste into position creating a firm rectangular opening.

6.  Once windows are completed, line the facing up with coat front to make sure windows line up with buttonholes.

7.  When front facing has been applied, stitch window to the back of the buttonhole with tiny hand stitching.  I like to go around twice, just to make sure the facing is secured firmly in place.  Steam lightly, being careful not to over press.  Overpressing will cause the inner work to show through on the front side and should be avoided.

8.  The hand stitching takes a little patience, but the result is well worth the time.  It almost looks nice enough to be on the outside.

close-up view

Voila – done!

I hope this tutorial was helpful.

Now it is on to completing the lining and inserting shoulder pads.  Then to the cleaners for a final press ( a must with all tailored garments).  I can’t wait to finish it and show you the final product.  Until then,  Happy Sewing!

Coat Making Tutorial – part 2 Bound Buttonholes

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Tales from the Bound Buttonhole

The first bound buttonhole I ever attempted was in a Clothing and Textiles class my freshman year in college.  It was, as they say, an exercise in futility, as my 18-year-old brain was simply not geared for the rigors of buttonhole science .   That early experience caused me to avoid the dreaded things for years to come; I was convinced I wasn’t up to the job.   Not so, as I shall now show you.

A great lesson I learned from my college experience is that there are alternative methods to getting a desired result.  If one method doesn’t work for you, try another until you find one that does.  The method I will demonstrate here works for me and I hope it will give those of you who may like to learn the art of creating a beautiful couture buttonhole some tips for success.

1.  I begin the process by carefully marking the button layout.  Always make your buttonhole 1/8 inch larger than your button measurement. Some button styles require more ease, but 1/8 is adequate for most buttons.

2.   Machine (or hand) baste over buttonhole width so that placement line shows through to front side of fabric.  Cut a 2″ x 2″ bias square for each buttonhole.  The bias creates the piping in the buttonhole and can be in a contrasting fabric if desired.

3.   Steam and stretch bias strips in both directions to eliminate the “give” in the fabric.

4.  Place bias strips on the right side of the garment over the basting lines and pin in place.  Be sure to have right side of garment and bias strips facing each other.

5.  On the wrong side, machine baste on the buttonhole line as originally marked in step 1.  Once basted, shorten stitch and sew 1/8 inch on either side of basting line being very careful to keep both lines even at buttonhole end.  Good markings really help with accuracy in this step.  Once stitched, remove basting thread on bias strip and cut through the center of strip.

6.  On wrong side, cut down center line, carefully snip to left and right corner creating a triangle at both ends.


7.  Turn the bias strip through the hole to create piping edges.

8.  Hand stitch piping into place being sure to catch inside edges within the piping.  Conceal stitches in the “ditch” of the seam line.

9.  Once piping has been stitched into position, baste the piped edged together to secure for next step.

10.  When piping is secured, turn to inside and machine stitch the triangles created in step 6 at each end with a small stitch.  This is an important step both for creating a nice clean edge on the end of the buttonhole and also for giving strength and durability.

When triagles on both ends are stitched, remove basting stitches on piped edges.  Trim excess from bias strip and lightly tack down.

trim and tack

Voila!  There you have it… a bound buttonhole.

Here are the four that I made for my coat.  As you can see, each one has its own personality, and that’s the beauty of a handmade garment.

Next time I will show you how to complete an interior finish for your buttonhole.  Until then, happy sewing!