Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Fit Problems: Bodice is too loose across the bust

I recently ran into a fit problem with Simplicity 2365, a princess seam tunic.  The following is a common problem for me:
That's what happens when you have a tiny bust!

Usually, I take out 1" between the apex of the bust and center front. 

I learned the hard way that this can cause another fit problem.....

The solution for bunching at the neckline is to lower the neckline a bit by cutting some off.  I tried that and it helped some, but didn't take away the bunching completely.  That's probably because I'd taken out 1" in the front neckline and 1" in the back neckline.  That's a total of 2" taken out of the neckline.

I have to take out 1/2" of the extra fullness for one side.  (That's a total of 1" in the bodice to make it fit.)  Redraw the dart stitching lines by locating the original point of dart (the apex), starting at the original stitching line at the base.  The darts will be shallower.  Because fullness has been taken out of the shoulder and not the neckline, the neckline is not distorted.

My problem making the proper adjustment is that I have a princess seam bodice to work with.  That means that the side dart has been moved to the shoulder.

 So my question is, how do I make the proper adjustment with princess seams?? Do I have to turn the seams back into darts and the shoulder dart back into a waist dart and make the adjustment?  That sounds like A LOT of work.  I don't know the answer.  My alterations book doesn't explain it and I my Google searches have been completely unhelpful. Times like these just make me want to make my own sloper. (Pattern-makers use a sloper, which is a basic pattern that fits your body.  It can be used to create any other style of clothing.)  Slopers are more time consuming than a regular project, but then I could use the basic pattern that FITS to make any other style of blouse without spending hours altering every pattern I buy.

For now, I just need to finish my current blouse project!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Tutorial: Adding Length to a Knit Dress

I don't usually buy ready-to-wear dresses because regular sizes don't fit, and petite sizes that do fit are $$$$.  I could probably find a petite dress on clearance, but most of the dresses I find hit above the knee.  That is a bit too short for my comfort.

This is the case with this black knit dress I found on sale.  I needed just a little more coverage on the bottom edge.  I waited an entire 2 months to find black jersey knit fabric to match.  I don't know why, but every store has had a hard time getting it in stock this fall.  I almost gave up and considered taking the dress back.  Finally, Denver Fabrics got some fabric and I snatched it right up.

This is how I made a gathered edge to add length to the dress.....

1. I decided to add 2 1/2" of gathered fabric to the length.  Including the seam allowance, I'd need the strip to be 3" wide.  To get the width of the strip, I measured the circumference of the edge of my skirt.  It is 60".  I needed extra fabric length to gather, so I took 60"x1.5= 90".  My fabric is only 60" wide, so I actually cut a piece 60"x3" and 30.5"x3 and sewed them together with a 1/4" seam to make 90"x3".  

2. I matched the short ends right sides together and serged my strip into a loop.  On the rolled hem setting of the serger, I finished the bottom edge of the loop.  Back at the sewing machine, I made a basting stitch 1/4" from the edge all the way around the loop, leaving tails of thread at both ends.

3. I folded my loop in half and marked a pin at the sides, then half again and marked in the center.  This means I had four pins equally spaced around my loop.  I did the same for the edge of the dress.

4. I knotted one end of the basting stitch tails together.  Pulling on one of the un-knotted tails, I gathered the fabric all the way around the loop.  The pins on the loop and on the dress are very effective in ensuring that the fabric is gathered evenly all the way around the loop and that it ends up being the same circumference as the edge of the dress.  Using the pins as reference points, I matched the gathered loop to the edge of the dress, right sides together.  Back at the serger, I sewed a seam 1/4" from the edge of the matched up pieces.

5. On the wrong side of the fabric, I pressed the seam down, towards the edge of the dress.  This helps it lay flat.

That's it!  It took me about 2 1/2 hours from beginning to end.  The process is pretty simple, but I was surprised how time-consuming it is to make a rolled hem on the serger.  


In addition to adding length, I made a couple other alterations.....

The armholes were too big so I took out about 2" by sewing up the edge.

The neckline is too gapey, and I wanted to wear this dress without and undershirt, so I tacked it closer at the top and sewed down the seam.  (See the 'x' and the stitching line below).


Here's what it looked like when I bought it...


After the alterations.....

The Wonderful, More Comfortable After ;)

I'm so excited to add this to my wardrobe!!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dressing in One Color

Dressing all in one color, from top to bottom, is an effective way to elongate your petite figure.  Here are some examples:

Casual in Blue
Mossimo V-Neck Tee
Eddie Bauer Petite Textured Hoodie

Mossimo Petite Bootcut Jeans

SM Women's Hobo Boat Shoe

Dressy in Black

H& M Cardigan
Ann Taylor Loft Petite Trousers

Jones New York Leather Pump from DSW Shoes

For those of you who think that wearing black equates gothicness: either get over it or choose colorful jewelry or hair accessories to brighten up your look.  Using different textiles for each piece (ex: sparkly knit cardigan, tweed slacks, leather pumps) adds variety, texture, and in this case, sparkle.

Pretty in Red

MT Janella Suede Pump from DSW Shoes
Banana Republic Gemma Wrap Dress

 This knit wrap dress looks sooo comfy and fun!  Who can resist red?  What a wonderfully scrumptious color, just in time for the holidays.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tutorial: How to Patch Holey Pants

My nephew loves his 'new' hand-me-down Iron Man pajamas.  He even has the moves to prove it.  He didn't, however, like the holes in the knees, so I took the bottoms home to fix.  I'll show you how to do it.  It is super easy.

Yep, those knees are long gone.  If I was a little boy and had holey pajamas I would probably get caught on those holes while getting dressed.

Oh, look!  It's a New Moon shirt given to my hubbie on a date a few years back to see the aforementioned movie, which he detests.  So of course he doesn't wear this...but I didn't throw it away because I knew I'd have a use for it soon.

I cut the sleeve off, then cut along the underarm seam to open the sleeve flat.  I cut out two rectangles big enough to cover the holes (and a bit extra).  

I cut out lightweight iron-on interfacing just a trite smaller than my patches and ironed it on the wrong side of my patches with high heat and steam.

I pinned the patches on those terrible looking knees.  Then, I headed to the sewing machine and zig-zagged all the way around the edges, making sure to backstitch.  Knit fabric can bubble when sewn on the machine.  To minimize this, I tried to stay on the edge of the black fabric and not on the pants.  The interfacing on the patches stabilizes the stitching.

Ta-da!  All done.  Wasn't that easy?

Monday, November 14, 2011

DIY Botanical Art Tutorial

If I told you I had a a small obsession with plants, it would be a total lie.  I am a die-hard plant nerd and am not ashamed of it!  For example: my house is filled with all kinds of green things, I prune disfigured trees mentally every time I look outside, and if you ask me to name a plant I will most likely rattle off a Latin name first. I LOVE NATURE.

So of course, I had to have some fern botanical art in my leafy bedroom.

Tools and supplies:
11x17 frames
paper to mount ferns on
pens for labeling
rubber cement
ruler or T-Square
scratch paper
nails and picture hanger

I started off with a couple of 11x17 frames from Kohl's.  I love the brown wood and the matting was nice, but I eventually got rid of it so I'd have more room for the fern.

Then, I set out to find some pressed ferns.  For those of you who live where ferns are a plenty, you can go outside hunting for some and press them yourself.  In the desert, we don't have this luxury so I found an online company who sells them, called Nature's Pressed Flowers.  They have different  kinds of ferns in various sizes.  Since I had large frames, I wanted large ferns.  I ordered a large rhombus fern and a large feather fern and with shipping it came to under $10.
The next step was to find some paper to mount my ferns on.  I went to the local craft store and bought a 19 x 25.5 inch sheet of ivory textured artist paper for $2.  Below, you can see that I've cut the board into 2 - 11x17 sheets of paper.  You can use the paper from inside the picture frame as a template.

Using my drafting supplies, I labeled my fern in the corner with the scientific name first, then the common name.   I always tape my paper to my drafting board so it doesn't move around while I work.  (If you don't have a drafting board, any flat surface will do.)  I printed the words in pencil first and then went over them with a Staedtler 0.1 pigment liner.  I also added a date, 10/11, in the bottom right-hand corner.  You don't have to have fancy tools to do this, just make sure your writing is straight (use a ruler) and that you use a high-quality pen that won't fade.  

To glue the fern, place it on scratch paper, back side facing up, and apply a thin layer of rubber cement.  It doesn't have to cover the whole fern, just dot it enough to secure the fern to the paper.  

When you're done, place the fern carefully, glue side down, on the artist's paper.  Put a piece of scratch paper on the fern and gently press down, flattening the fern to the artist's paper.  If you have to do this more than once, use a different piece of scratch paper so as not to accidentally get glue in unwanted places!

 Finished product before framing

Let the glue dry thoroughly.  Carefully remove the taped edges.  Place the mounted fern in the frame.  The next step is to add ribbon from which to hang the picture.  The back of my frame already has two loops for hanging, so I threaded my ribbon through them and tied it at the bottom.  You will need to hold the ribbon up to see how long you want it to be. 

Your new botanical art is ready to hang on the wall.  I hung mine by nailing picture hangers into the wall.  I have no worries about these guys slipping off these slanted contraptions. You should probably hammer the nails farther in than I did.  I didn't bother to find studs since my pictures are light.

Mmm....lookin' good!


Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

Happy Veteran's Day everyone!  Better late than never, right?  My hubbie is in the Navy, so we had a fun day hitting up all the restaurants offering free meals to people in the military.  I had no idea there were so many.  We had lunch at Subway and after Scott was done for the day we went to Chili's for dinner and Outback Steakhouse for a complimentary bloomin' onion.  I feel pleasantly plump right now.  Nothin' like eating good food and not having to cook it, right?

I also couldn't pass up the opportunity to go to the fabric store.  This was partially due to the fact that my basement neighbor was tending a friend's dog, and had to leave him alone during the day.  The dog barked non-stop starting at 11 a.m. and I thought I was going to lose my mind listening to his lonely, anxious whinings.  So obviously, I had to think of a reason to leave the house!  I found another cute challis print, some zippers and some ribbon.  Everything I bought was on sale, and then they had this very nice 20% discount today for anyone with a military ID. 

Sometimes I feel a bit guilty cashing in on these discounts because my husband won't get called up to war with his job.  I'm really grateful for all the people who serve our country and for those who make do while their spouses are away serving.  I think that would be incredibly hard.  So, thank you to those of you who sacrifice your time, and time with your family so that our country can be a safer place.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Red-striped Tablecloth

I made a red tablecloth this week to liven up my kitchen.  This old dropped-leaf table has a ton of watermarks and is impossible to clean.  It drives me crazy!!

But, the tablecloth gives the room some spice and flavor.  I saw this fabric in the home decor decorator fabric clearance section of Denver Fabrics.  It waved to me and said, "Take me home!"  

To finish the edges, I turned them under 1/4", then 3/8" and stitched near edge.  I mitered the corners to reduce bulk and to create a nice finished look.  I did all of this while watching an episode of 'Once Upon a Time.'

A nice, easy to wash tablecloth in one of my favorite colors!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tutorial: DIY 1/2" Double Fold Bias Tape

I recently made fabric boxes with this tutorial here and needed some bias tape to finish the edges.  I needed nearly 4 packages for 4 fabric boxes and at $2.99 each.  Yikes!!  That would really drive up the cost.  I decided to learn how to make bias tape instead.  Besides being cheaper, making your own bias tape opens a world of pattern and color choices.  I, however, decided to go for a plain yellow cotton this go around for only $3 a yard. 

DIY 1/2" Double Fold Bias Tape
You will need:
cutting mat
rotary cutter
measuring gauge

First, lay out your fabric on the cutting mat so the selvage is butted up against the vertical marked edge of the cutting mat.  (The selvage is the woven edge parallel with the lengthwise grain.)    Line up the cut edge so it is on the horizontal marked edge of the cutting mat.  If it isn't totally square, trim off the edge so it lines up.

You won't be needing the selvage in your bias tape, so using your ruler, cut 1/2" off the selvage and reposition it with the vertical edge of the mat.  Now you're ready to get started.

If you're left-handed like me, you'll want to start slicing on the left side.  With your rotary cutter, slice a triangle off the corner edge 2" x 2" and discard.  It's too small to work with.  Then, measure 1 1/2" along the sliced edge, line up your ruler, and slice it off.  Keep slicing strips until you have enough for your project.

To sew the strips together, line them up right sides together so they form a 'V'.  Then, move them past each other a bit so that there is room for a 1/4" seam allowance.  Sew along the dotted line, shown above.  Match up all your strips, sew them together in a line, and then head to the ironing board.

Iron the seam you just made to one side.  I added an extra row of stitching at 1/8" to prevent fraying.

Now, fold your strip in half, ironing all the way down.

 Open the strip back up.  Measure and fold 1/4" in at the edges on both sides.
Iron the folds in on both sides.  To be honest, I eyeballed the fold most of the time.

 If you didn't have a crease in the center, your bias tape would be 1" wide.
 This is 1" single-fold bias tape.  
 I'm really excited to have figured this out finally!!

Below is 1/2" double fold bias tape:
See, all I had to do was fold it back in half!

If you are going to be making a lot of bias tape, it may be wise to purchase a bias tape maker.  They cost under $10 and fold the sides in precisely.  All you'll need to do is iron the creases.  Sha-zaam!