Monday, February 27, 2012

Adding Coverage to a Boat Neck Top

I got this top on clearance for $5 at a Banana Republic Outlet store last October.

I like the color and style, but when I wore it without an undershirt, I found myself pulling at the neckline and stuffing my bra straps back where they belong.   It was super, duper annoying!  I was entertaining a group of people and my neckline was never far from my mind the entire night.

I don't want to wear an extra layer of clothing just to cover an inch or two of the boat neck on each side, especially come summer, so I added some coverage to the sides using fabric from an old top.  It's about the same color as my BR top.

I cut patches from the sleeves.

I pinned them to the boat neck and sewed on top of the existing topstitching.  

I trimmed the excess fabric on the wrong side of the shirt.

And, voilĂ !  I will be wearing this top more often, guaranteed!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lingerie Bag Tutorial @ Sew Mama Sew!

I created a Lingerie Bag and Sachet tutorial for Sew Mama Sew!'s True Love Series.  To view it, click here.  If you've found your way via the tutorial, welcome to my blog!  Thanks for stopping by!  

To know when I post more great tutorials and sewing tips, click the 'follow' button at the top of my blog.  You can also follow by email on the right sidebar or become a fan of my Facebook page here

Feel free to check out my other tutorials on the header above.  Here are a couple of my favorites:

Lately, I've been busy in the realm of swimsuit sewing.  It's so much easier than I thought it would be!  

If you'd like to learn how to sew a swimsuit, visit the Swimsuit Sew-Along here.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Knock-Out Dress Ideas

Need a little dress inspiration?  I really like ModCloth's dresses, but they don't carry petite sizes.  Sometimes it really is best to make it yourself.  Sew Weekly's Make This shows you the ModCloth look, and how you can sew a similar look yourself.  Here are some of my latest favorites: and brown together again.

I'm not sure how in love I am with the color of this dress, but it's nice to see how New Look 6723 would turn out in a brocade. You can see how well the skirt holds its shape and sticks out, unlike what a drapey fabric would do.  These are things that are hard to envision when you're pairing patterns with fabric.

I really need to try polka dots. has the same Jane Sassaman print in red that I could really go for.

This Michael Miller print looks comfortable and breathable.  I love the red satin accenting on the dress.

Sew Weekly adds a new look every week.  Do you have a favorite look?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Swimsuit Sew-Along: Inserting Elastic and Finishing Touches

Welcome back to the Swimsuit Sew-Along!

I finished my swimsuit!  But before I show you finished pictures, let me share a few more tips for sewing your swimsuit.  If you missed it, I already went over cutting out and inserting your lining.  

This next tip explains how to attach your elastic to the fabric:

The feed dogs grip the elastic better than they would the fabric, which would end up sliding around and give you a really hard time.  This is, perhaps, the most useful tip I found while doing research for this project.  I zig-zagged the two together with a Jersey Ballpoint Needle, then folded it over and topstitched with a Stretch Twin Needle.  I know I talked about not using pins with swimsuit fabric but I just had to on this step!  It really helped to keep the elastic in place and well-spaced while I was sewing it to the fabric.  If it is any consolation, I did try to keep my pin punctures within the seam allowance.

As you can see, above, the zig-zagging is visible on the wrong side, and the pretty double-stitching is visible on the right side.  I broke my twin needle on a pin just as I finished sewing the last stitches on the suit.  *TEAR*  I was hoping not to have to dish out another $5 on the needle for my next project!

I used plush-back elastic for the shelf bra, which is really comfortable and won't chafe against my skin.  I found the bra closure at Joann's and was surprised how easy it was to insert.

And now....the moment you have been waiting for and the moment I have been DREADING....finished pictures!  It's not that I don't love the finished product, it's that I have mixed feelings about putting these pictures up for everyone to see.  Okay here goes:

KWIK SEW 3153 - Misses' Swimsuit with regular-cut leg openings

 I love the lower leg openings.  I love the higher neckline and that the straps are farther from my shoulders.

I attached the shoulder straps closer to center back than directed by the pattern and love that these babies will not be going anywhere!

When I use this pattern again, I will make a small bust adjustment and get rid of the fullness in the shelf bra.  The lining keeps riding up and poking out of the neckline.  Talk about annoying!  Oh, and if you alter your neckline you will need to make sure to do some math calculations to determine the new length of the elastic needed at the neckline.  It's not hard, I just compared the XS and S neckline width and the elastic needed for XS and S necklines and estimated my new number.

The fit of this pattern is PERFECT and true to the measurements on the pattern envelope.  The pattern instructions were very clear and didn't leave any room for me to wonder what do do next.  The $12 I paid was worth every penny.  I am so glad I bought a pattern for my first swimsuit attempt instead of trying to make a pattern from my old ready-to-wear swimsuit.  It would have been a nightmare to figure out how much elastic to use.  

Let me just reiterate that a serger is totally not necessary for swimsuit sewing.  I really thought I'd use it for more than just the side seams, but I had to use my sewing machine for the rest.  A sewing machine is perfectly acceptable as long as you use stretch needles during construction.

Cost Breakdown:
Thread: 1.36
Pattern: 11.81
Bra Elastic: 0.50
Swim Elastic: 4.50
3/4 yard floral fabric: 5.99
3/4 yard lining: 3.75
Double stretch twin needle: 5.00
Total Cost: $30.56
(Next time I will use the same pattern and save myself $12)

Even though this suit was meant to be a muslin, I love it so much I'm not going to make the same pattern again until this one wears out.  I will, however, be making a tankini pretty soon here...I've just got to find some fabric. 

(I ordered some milliskin nylon/spandex from Spandex House.  When the fabrics came in the mail I found that the aqua and red fabrics I bought are different color tones than I expected - - I hate them and just can't bring myself to make and wear a swimsuit in colors I dread to wear.  Hard lesson learned: buy a fabric swatch and see it in person before you spend $30 on fabric you hate!)

Here's to your own swimsuit sewing success!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Swimsuit Sew-Along: Cutting Out / How to Make a Full Lining

Welcome back to the.......

I hope you're catching the swimsuit-making fever!  Leave a comment below...I'd love to hear about your suit.  This process is going a lot faster than I had imagined.  I cut out my fabric and it looks fabulous!  Here's how to do it:

1. Pre-shrink your fabric by washing and dry your fabric the same way you will after you wear it.  Also, that way if anything tragic (like the fabric bleeding) is going to happen you will know about it BEFORE you make your suit.  

2. Take measurements and make necessary alterations to your pattern.  I started with an extra small in the bust and tapered out to a medium in the waist.  I also made some alterations to the neckline and strap placement.  I have narrow shoulders, so bringing the strap in will help keep it from falling off.

TIP: Although the greatest stretch in your fabric should be from selvage to selvage, you will want to double-check that this is the case with your fabric.  I know someone who cut her suit out the wrong direction.  When she put it on, it wouldn't stretch enough around her waist and it was a project fail!

Your fabric should have 2-way stretch, on the lengthwise and crosswise grains.  Check to make sure your fabric has enough stretch by matching it up with the stretch guide on the edge of your pattern envelope:

 Looks like my fabric has the required 75% stretch, so I'm all set to cut out.

3. Cut out your pattern pieces, place them on your fabric and cut out.  I traced my pattern pieces with tracing paper and used them to cut out my fabric.  No confusing colored lines!  Sorry if the tracings are hard to see. 

Can I just say....I LOVE, LOVE my new fabric weights!  They make cutting out super fast and precise.  Using pins to cut out nylon/spandex blends, like this one, can cause the fabric to slide around and the pins to snag the fabric. But, seriously, I'd use them anyway because these babies cut cutting time in half!

I folded the selvages in on each side, cut out, and still have a lot of fabric to spare in the middle.

TIP: If you're dealing with large flowers or dots, mark where you think the apex of your bust will hit and avoid placing a large bright flower over it.  Crisis averted!!  The universe thanks you!

 4. The Lining: You can either line the crotch, the front of your suit, or the whole thing.  Since I had a bunch of white flowers on my print, I chose to line the whole suit.  No worries about coverage here!  I cut out lining pieces for the front and back.  I sewed the front and back swimsuit pieces together at the crotch seam and did the same for the corresponding lining pieces.  Then, I placed the lining and swimsuit wrong sides together and basted all the edges together.

This ensures that when I put my elastic in, my lining and swimsuit fabric will stay put together and there will be no sliding around.

TIP: Whenever I sew with knits, I use a Jersey Ballpoint Needle.  The tip is slightly rounded so it won't snag the knit and cause a run in the fabric. This is a must-have for swimsuit sewing!

Stay tuned for more tips on finishing your swimsuit!  I'm so excited to show you the finished product!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Swimsuit Sew-Along: Supplies and Resources

Welcome back to the Swimsuit Sew-Along!  This week I got my patterns and fabric.

For my one-piece suit....
Kwik Sew 3153 - Swimsuit with a shelf-bra lining with elastic, opening in back with a hook closure.

It's always a good idea to do a muslin first....
Muslin: Floral Poly Spandex from Denver Fabrics
Finished suit: Red Matte Milliskin, Poly Spandex from Spandex House The muslin turned out great! A second go-around is not needed.

Notions:    3/8" Cotton Swimwear Elastic from Joann's Fabrics, 1/2" Plush Elastic from Sew Sassy Fabrics, 3/4" Swimwear Hook from Joann's

For my tankini suit...
McCall's 3566  - Two-piece swimsuit: I will use the tankini and boy shorts pattern...and I just realized there are separate pieces for A, B and C cups.  Score!

Fabric:   Blue Matte Milliskin, Poly Spandex from Spandex House The fabric arrived and I hate the color....still looking for a replacement.  Next time I will order a swatch first!
Notions:    3/8" Cotton Swimwear Elastic from Joann's Fabrics, 1/2" Plush Elastic from Sew Sassy Fabrics

Swimsuit Sewing Resources - I will keep adding to this.

Poly/Spandex Fabric and Lining:
Girl Charlee Fabrics  Flirty and fun swimwear prints! (added 6/25/13)
Spandex House
Spandex World
Fashion Fabrics Club
Sew Sassy Fabrics

Books about Swimsuit Sewing:
Singer Sewing with Knits - a little outdated (1992) but still has some good info. and is $4 on Amazon.

Blog Posts about Sewing Swimsuits:
Assorted Notions
Everyday Chaos
Featherty Sews 
Vively Online
Creative Chicks on how to keep the straps from falling off

Other Web Resources:
Dive Into Swimsuits Podcast

Friday, February 3, 2012

How to Shorten Sweatpants

Super soft sweatpants from Kohls for $9 = AWESOME!!!

 Feeling like one of the Seven Dwarfs 
because these puppies are long enough 
to accommodate 6" heels = NOT AWESOME :(

Hey, but it's all good because I can fix that! 

 And if you have a similar problem, here's how to remedy it:

While wearing the sweatpants, I placed a pin where I would like the hem of my pants to end.  For me, that's about to the floor with my shoes off.  I wanted a 3/4" hem, so I took the sweatpants off and measured 3/4" below the pin.  The distance between my blue mark and the edge of the pants was 4 1/4", so I used that measurement to mark my cutting line all the way around both pant legs.  

Once I cut the pants off at the blue line it was time to serge the edges.  This helps the fabric to not curl, which jersey knit is known to do.  If you don't have a serger, just make a simple zig-zag stitch on the edge with your sewing machine.

Then I folded the edge over 3/4", pressed it, and used my twin needle to sew the hem on the right side of the fabric.  (The twin needle is really important because it gives the seam a bit of a stretch which means it won't break if I get my foot caught on the hem.)

Yes, it really was that easy.  One of the main reasons I have continued to sew over the years is so I can alter my own clothing with a few simple steps.  It is totally worth it!  And nobody would have guess these pants have been altered which is AWESOME!!  

I gladly bid goodbye to the velor sweatpants I made my first year in college, when I didn't have a reason to accommodate a bootie.  Woo-hoo!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My Sew-Vivor Entry

I am entering Family Ever After's Sew-Vivor Competition!  Pictured above is my retro shirt dress made from Butterick 5315 last summer and my Roses are Red Apron Tutorial posted last week, guest blogging at Days of Chalk and Chocolate.

Swimsuit Sew-Along

 I got a crazy/awesome idea last week to make a swimsuit!  I've never attempted this before.  I've actually only just started to delve into the world of knits but I am still really excited for this challenge!  I've teamed up with Beth from My Eclectic Mess to blog about our swimsuit sewing pursuits in 'Make a Splash Swimsuit Sew-Along'!

**We would love it if you would join us in the sew-along by making your own swimsuit!** 
Sew-Along Rules: 
1. Become a follower of The Petite Sewist and My Eclectic Mess
2. Copy and paste the sew-along button code to your blog (it's located on my sidebar)

During the sew-along I will show my swimsuit work-in-progress and share swimsuit sewing tips.  You can also head on over to Beth's blog and see how her swimsuit is coming along and what tips she has come across.  She has already picked out her fabric and patterns! 

 I ordered some matte milliskin fabric with 4-way stretch at Spandex House here and some lining here. The millikin is 80% nylon and 20% lycra.  I hope the 4-way stretch works with the patterns I pick.  I want to make a one-piece swimsuit for lap swimming and a two-piece tankini to feel pretty in.  
Here are the patterns I've narrowed it down to:

Kwik Sew 2962 View B features a racerback style.  I have heard good things about swimsuit patterns from Kwik Sew from reviewers at

Kwik Sew 3153 has a hook closure.  If I made this style, I would sew the straps a different way as shown by Creative Chicks.  I hate it when straps won't stay on!

Jalie 3134 is designed for 4 way stretch.  Most of the patterns I have looked at specify 2 way stretch which can also mean 4 way stretch...I know, confusing, right?  So, I know for sure this one-piece suit won't require extensive alterations to make it work with my fabric.  This pattern can't be found in my local stores so I'd have to order it.  The great thing about Jalie patterns is that they are sized to fit toddlers through adults and even maternity sizes.

I love the look of McCall's 3566, especially the boy shorts.  Yeah, I know, I know....a higher-cut leg will elongate my petite figure but I HATE re-positioning fabric that rides up after I dive into the pool.  I also like the tankini tops on this pattern but would change the straps from halter to cross back because it means less stress on my neck.  Another reviewer used 4 way stretch and just sized down her boyshorts.  They turned out great!'s looking like the McCall's pattern is my only tankini pick.  It was really easy to narrow down to this because I wanted a simple top without ruching or gathers.  I don't like trying to fit my itty bitties into tops made for a fuller bust.  The alterations can be a mess and using bra cups to fill in the rest makes me feel weird.

If you want to join into the fun of making your own swimsuit, you're welcome to check out the Swimwear Sew-Along discussion board at  If you join, you'll be able to post comments and questions.  

Wish me luck!

Swimsuit Sew-Along: Supplies and Resources
Cutting Out and How to Make a Full Lining