Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ruby Slip review

I can't believe my last post on here was back in March! With this year quickly coming to a close I'll have to make a goal to share more projects. 

I returned back to school this summer to work towards obtaining credits required to sit for the CPA exams. Hopefully by the end of 2013 I will be celebrating the completion of this entire process. Until then, my life revolves around school- which I don't mind at all. Life is relatively simple being a college student.

Speaking of academics, I plan to take as many in-residence couture sewing classes with Susan Khalje as I can next year. They are super pricey but they will be my reward/incentive for getting through the entire CPA certification process. This also means I need to put myself on a strict schedule to get my current sewing skills up to par. I want to go into these classes with a solid hand-sewing and tailoring foundation so that I can build advanced skills during my time with the masters. The first courses begin in September so I have less than a year to practice.. yikes!

In the meantime, here are some pictures and a review for my most recent garment sewing project. 

Pattern Description:
Slip with bias skirt and lace bodice. You can download the free pattern and follow the previous sew-along blog entries here:

Pattern Sizing:

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The written instructions along with its photo tutorials were extremely helpful. This was the first time I have worked with lace and it definitely helped having the step-by-step support.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
This was a super easy pattern which resulted in a high-end looking product.

Fabric Used:
Italian silk charmeuse and Swiss-made Venice lace trim from Fabricmart. I also used a couple of plastic lingerie bra rings to make the straps adjustable. The lace was a bit stiff to work with and I don’t know if I would use this particular trim for this sort of application again. It softened up a little after hand washing and the slight heaviness helped the bodice maintain its shape.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I had a difficult time matching the lace motif at center front to create a seamless, mirrored look on the lace. I ended up hand stitching the front two pieces together and clipped through the back layers as well as I could. I serged the edges on all the lace pieces, top stitching the open seams to decrease the bulk. I used French seams on the charmeuse and a rolled hem foot for the bottom edge of the skirt.

I didn’t have the opportunity to fit this slip for my friend (the pattern was cut based on her measurements) so I wanted to make the straps adjustable. I used a ready-to-wear slip to figure out how these straps were attached, the smaller areas were hand stitched in place because there just isn’t a way to get in there with a sewing machine.    

Front view
Back view

Lace bodice back
Lace bodice front

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I already have some lace and silk set aside for sewing some slips for myself. So yes, I would definitely recommend this pattern to others!

I made this slip as a bridal shower gift for a dear friend from childhood. I’m thrilled with how it turned out and she was very touched that I gave her a hand-made gift. I included a bottle of Eucalan laundry wash with her package to help care for her new lingerie.

Because this was a gift, I took extra time placing, cutting, and sewing the lace and silk throughout the entire project. I think ambitious beginners can make this pattern if they’re patient with the process. It is a fabulous pattern to make some beautiful lingerie!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fighting against the UFOs

I decided this past weekend I was going to conquer all of my unfinished projects in the sewing room this year. Fortunately I don't have too many and if I can dedicate one Sunday each month I should be able to complete (or finally dump!) these by the beginning of summer. 

This past Sunday I worked on a baby quilt my friend Carol had pieced together last summer before I left Korea. I was in charge of quilting, binding, and sending it to baby Andrew (who was born last September). I haven't practiced my free motion techniques in awhile and decided to stitch in the ditch when quilting this blanket.

I am so glad this is finally done. I still need to perfect hand stitching the back of mitered corners, the front looks pretty nice but I can't seem to create the same crisp folds on the other side. 

Preparing backing, batting, and quilt top

Stitch in the ditch

Busy backing fabric helps hide any stitching imperfections

Off to baby Andrew this will go!


Saturday, February 25, 2012

A visual how-to for cutting bias binding

I found this technique online at some point, it's definitely not my original idea. I don't remember where it came from, if any of you can help me make the proper attribution please let me know.

I like this method because it doesn't require marking the fabric and I can cut a lot of tape in very little time, especially if I start with a one yard piece of fabric. I've written brief instructions on the pictures. Please let me know if anything needs clarification.

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

Step 7

Step 8

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sewing Techniques Sew Along

I'm heading up a Sew Along on Pattern Review where participants will build practice samples of all sorts of sewing techniques. I'll try to take as many pictures as I can to document each process step by step. There are many ways to do the same thing in sewing, I'll be sharing what works for me.

First up... 


If the ends of my stitches aren't going to be bound within another seam, I like to back stitch the ends to prevent unraveling seams. I like to begin with needle down on my fabric (right sides together). I find this gives me better control of my fabric versus setting the presser feet down before the needle onto the fabric. The distance between where my needle goes in and the edge of the fabric to the right will be your seam allowance. In this sample, I am using a 1/2" seam allowance. There is room between the top edge of the fabric and my needle to run a couple of back stitches before I start forward stitching. Most machines have a manual back stitch lever or even an automatic stitch function, you'll have to read your machine manual to determine the steps for your specific machine.

Continue to keep the right edge of your fabric lined with the markings on the throat plate. I rarely use pins when I sew, I use my entire left hand to guide the top of the fabric and my right fingers are sandwiched between the two layers of fabric. My right thumb is facing upwards (placed under the bottom layer of fabric), my right index finger is right between the two layers, and the rest of the right fingers also face down on top of the first layer of fabric on the machine bed. (This is difficult to capture an image when you're alone, will have DH take a picture when he's around.)

When you reach the bottom edge of the fabric, take a couple more back stitches to secure the end.

Press your stitches with an iron to "set" them. There's some debate as to whether this step is necessary, I do it out of habit.

Open your seam to press it open. This pressing step is vital for professional looking results! Remember pressing is different from ironing. When you press seams, you want to set your hot iron down for a few seconds on an area and then continue that vertical up down movement throughout process. Ironing is continuously moving the iron back and forth over fabric/seam, which could stretch your fabric. Always press. And always know the heat tolerance of your textile. I am using quilting cotton for my samples so the iron is set to "high".

This is a very sturdy seam that's often found on jeans and sportswear. Men's dress shirts also use this technique. This seam is also called a lap seam. There are sewing machine feet specially made to make these seams, I'll have to show those techniques another time.

With wrong sides together, sew a straight seam. My sample seam allowance is 1/2".

Trim one seam allowance between 1/8" to 1/4" from the seam. This width will depend on your original seam allowance, I took cut mine down to about 1/8". 

Fold and press the edge of larger seam allowance up by at least an 1/8". You'll see in the next step you will be top stitching this edge down and the larger the fold the easier it will be to keep it flat. How much you fold up will also determine the width of the final flat fell seam, play around with your samples to determine what you visually like. Open up the seam with the right side facing up and iron down the seam allowance to make it as flat as possible before you take it to the machine.

When you open up the fabric to the right side, you will notice the first line of stitching you made (show on the right). Use your machine feet to help guide your top stitching, keeping as close to the folded edge as possible. I didn't bother switching my machine feet with a smaller left edge one so I am simply using the inner edge of the all purpose foot. Don't forget to back stitch the top and bottom.

Here are some pictures of the flat fell seam from some different perspectives. I have chosen to leave the top stitch open for my sample to see the insides of the seam.

The innards of a flat fell seam

Top view

From the inside
Here are some pictures of two other seams I'll cover next time, the French seam and mock-French seam.

French seam

Mock French seam