You may recall, I made Mr. AFS a plaid flannel shirt a little over a year ago from Simplicity 1544. Since then I’ve gone on to make more versions of the shirt, perfecting fitting problems each time and so this iteration is pretty much near perfect for his body and build. Additionally, he wears that first flannel shirt a lot when it starts getting cold. In fact, it’s surprising just how much he wears it considering he doesn’t like plaid – it’s the flannel. He just loves the warmth. So I thought it was time that he received another. I hauled him on over to a Joann and had him pick out his own flannel this time. They have a surprising collection of flannels – called “plaiditudes” – that are quite thick and fluffy and soft. They wash up OK (just OK, not great) too and since I can’t get my hands on any of that Robert Kaufman Mammoth Flannel locally, this works.
Fitting changes for Simplicity 1544 since the first iteration: I’ve had to widen the collar – or make it 2 sizes larger because the original was too small in the neck. I narrowed the shoulder seam so that the point where the sleeve connects rests at the point where his shoulder point actually is and doesn’t droop over the side (which is not necessarily a bad thing, just not the look I was going for). Had to give him a little extra room in the upper back and then nipped in the waist section a touch. The sleeves were considerably shortened (very long in the sleeve on this pattern) and the cuff tightened.
Since this flannel is so wonderfully thick, I thought I should try my hand at a convertible collar version for this shirt as it seemed like it could cut down on the bulk in the neck area. I took a vintage pj top pattern (which I made for Mr. AFS a few years ago!) and stole the collar and the facing piece from it and converted my Simplicity 1544 to have a convertible collar option. From there, I made a few more drafting decisions based on eliminating bulk. I decided to create an all-in-one convertible collar and I did a fold over facing instead of one that is stitched on. The all-in-one convertible collar is pretty slick. It’s an idea that I saw Louise Cutting do (Threads article here) and I’ve long wanted to try it because I love basically everything that woman does. You basically take the collar piece, eliminate the seam at the collar’s edge and attach an under collar that has a seam down the center back of the collar. It has all the bells and whistles of a jacket collar, but all in one – the under collar section is on a slight bias (not a true 45• angle, but still) and has a seam down the center and that creates a nice turn of the cloth for the upper collar. Seriously, slick.
I stole a new pocket pattern from the Negroni free download – great pocket patterns by the way! – and from there it was all easy as pie. This is also one of my best ever plaid matching jobs. I opted to use Tasia’s way of cutting plaids this time – well sort of. I prep my pattern pieces a little differently for a plaid, but I used her pinning technique for the fabric. I’ve normally done the pieces one by one. I’ll lay a just cut piece on top of another that’s not cut to make sure I get an exact match and pretty much 100% of the time, the cut piece gets distorted just by moving it and/or the cutting is never as precise as doing them in double layer. It sounds a little crazy, but it happens. Cutting two layers at once eliminates that small distortion and can produce a more happy plaid matching experience. Just some food for thought.
Mr. AFS is loving his new shirt. Fits quite a bit better than the first version and I’m liking the convertible collar here. Itching to make my own! Previously, I’ve not been much of a convertible collar fan, but they have a place. Yay for plaid flannel shirt weather!
When this time of year comes around, I’m always at a loss about whether or not I should make something for gifts for family and friends. I have really good intentions and well, you know what they say about that. This year, I happened upon an idea – pillowcases and thought I should share. I was doing some housecleaning and upkeep one weekend and noticed that the mister and I could use a new set of pillowcases. Instead of purchasing some from the store, I thought it would be easy enough to take some of my stash and make a set. It was easy, in fact and it was so easy that as I was cranking them out in the space of 30 minutes or so, I instantly thought these would make great gifts. The key feature for me being that these are very doable in a reasonably short timeframe and yet, they still add a nice handmade touch to your gift giving. Never thought my 7th grade home-ec project would turn into a gift giving idea – but I’m hooked now! Not to mention, I have to admit, sometimes it feels really really great to crank out an easy project and you can go a little crazy personalizing them for each family member or whom ever you are planning to give them to.
Here’s what I did. I took an old pillowcase that I liked and measured the dimensions. Mine measured 38″ x 30″. I opted to add a 4″ contrast hem, so the dimensions I cut for the body of the pillowcase were 39″ x 27″ which included seam allowances of 1/2″. The contrasting hem was cut to 9″ x 39″ which also included seam allowances. I cut these so that only one of the long edges of the pillowcase had a seam – it was just easier.
From here, all you have to do is sew up the bottom edge and side seam and seam finish them off. If you’ve don’t have a serger, a french seam would be very easy to do.
For the contrast hem, I stitched the short ends together first and folded the long edges wrong sides together. Stitch to the raw edge of the pillowcase with right sides together, finish the seam and voila! Done!
I added a triple stitch to the top to hold the contrast hem seam in place. You could do some fun stitches that you never use or keep it simple. I opted for a quilting cotton I had in my stash, which is an easy natural, fun and colorful choice. Seriously, these are so easy and look how exciting they are – something you definitely aren’t going to pick up at a department store!
Additionally, these are easy enough to change up a little too and who said you only had to use quilting cotton? I made this gorgeous set for my mom from some silk jacquard with a silk satin contrast hem and then for my darling little nieces, I went wild with prints, added a ruffle edge and some contrasting trim. All the fabrics were from stash and the ones for my nieces were scrap fabric! The design elements are all up to you and how personal/economical/time consuming you want to make them.
The more I think about it, the more I would love to receive a gift like this. So personal and functional – both things that I love! So if you’re in the hustle and bustle and are wondering what in the world you’re going to do for gifts this year, consider pillowcases! Enjoy friends!
It’s been awhile since I did a Fabric Friday. I’ve decided to rotate my Friday posts out and I have some fun ideas for Fridays around here. But I do love talking about fabric, so I’ll be featuring a Fabric Friday every month. Today I thought we could take a closer look a woven rayon fabrics. I love the drapey look of them, which reminds me of silk, yet they are fairly easy to sew with. I mean, it’s not quilting cotton by any stretch but as compares with other harder to handle fabrics, they are pretty nice.
Rayon. This is such a misunderstood fiber. When I still owned my store, the minute I would mention “rayon” the customer was turned off. I don’t know why, but I do believe that rayon and polyester have flipped roles in a lot of people’s minds these days. Polyester has a place, but I’m telling you, it’s plastic. It is plastic. Polyester doesn’t breath well and it is purely synthetic, unless mixed with other natural fibers. Rayon is not the same thing. Rayon is a cellulosic fiber and it’s roots are based in nature – tree pulp. Rayon, lyocell, acetate, triacetate, viscose*, modal and bamboo are all made from regenerated cellulose. These are considered semi-synthetics. Rayon is the oldest manufactured fiber. It was known as “artificial silk” when it first appear on the market in 1889 and it gained popularity as it was economical, comfortable to wear, breathable and versatile.
*Viscose is technically a process that rayon goes through to become a fiber/fabric, however the fabric is usually referred to as rayon in the U.S. and viscose in the United Kingdom.
Rayon is the fiber type here and then there are weaves that rayon fibers can be woven into to create different fabric types. Rayon Challis is one such fabric. It’s your basic plain weave. Rayon Challis is very drapey. It’s a thin fabric. Rayon usually has a cold touch to it, which warms up immediately with your body heat and it’s soft to wear – feels wonderful, honestly. Rayon Challis makes great dresses and tops, or even flowy skirts. Also think pajamas. This fabric would make lovely pajamas.
I had a couple of other types of rayon wovens that I thought I would show you too. They are very similar to rayon challis except the weave is just a bit different, however the characteristics stay the same – cold to the touch (warms up immediately though) comfortable, light and flowy, drapey, etc. The dotted fabric is rayon sateen. It has a satin weave as opposed to a plain weave and so one side has a sheen to it and the other side is dull. also have a couple of pieces of rayon twill (pictured below), which has a twill weave instead of a plain weave. Kind of like denim and gabardine but not stiff or thick – it’s got the same hand as the rayon challis and sateen. There are other types of rayon wovens out there too. Rayon poplin, rayon batiste and rayon voile + more – just don’t let the rayon bit turn you off! Rayon is a pretty wonderful fabric. I use Bemberg Rayon lining for most lining projects. It’s 100% rayon fabric that feels wonderful to the skin and has longevity even though it’s marvelously light and thin.
Do you have rayon wovens in your stash? Anyone have any of that cold rayon from the 40s? Gosh how I would love some of that!
Hot Spots to find rayon wovens:
Rayons are fairly easy to locate – I see them at Joann and Hancock these days, but here are a couple online sources too.
Bemberg Lining – Vogue Fabrics
Last week, when I shared some tool tips for beginners, I thought it might be a good idea to talk about the arsenal of cutlery I’ve acquired over the years for various stages of the sewing process. I found that when it comes to the world of scissors, there is something that fits nearly every circumstance. There’s a lot of choices, which is great! Yay for choice!
You might be asking, “Why do I need more than one pair of scissors?” It’s a valid question and one that I asked too. As I’ve sewn more and more garments over the years, I’ve found the value of having lots of different types of scissors that work better than others do in different stages of the construction process. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the pleasure, but I’ve cut holes into garments from using the wrong scissors. It’s a cold compress moment. Tears are usually shed. Expletives start flying. It’s not pretty.
Let’s start with the old standbys. My fabric cutting shears. I have three pairs of these. I have a pair of Kai’s that are great for most everything. They could slice through steel I tell ya! I also have a pair of spring-loaded Gingher’s that I use only on silk fabrics. I end up working a lot with wool and a lot with silk and I’ve found that wool actually dulls my shears a little, so I opted to invest in a pair that was only for silks and/or thin fabrics like lining so that I wouldn’t have to get them sharpened as often. I also have a pair of Gingher serrated shears that are marvelous for those extra, extra tricksy slippery fabrics. The knife edge has tiny micro serrations in it and they grip the fabric and then slice and they are ideal for silk charmeuse or chiffon.
My next most used pairs of scissors are my nippers. They are a Gingher pair, but I’ve used others with success too. I use nippers for cutting threads and they stay right next to my sewing machine while I sew. I have tried to get used to the thread cutter on my machine, but I like the ritual of using my nippers. It’s a funny little preference as I do love speed, but it’s something I do.
My tailor points come next (on the right above). These are a little 5 inch pair of Gingher scissors that I use all the time for clipping, trimming and grading. They are probably my favorite pair, I use them so much! The short length helps protect against the dreaded slice into the garment. Mainely Dad also recommends bandage scissors that help protect against that sort of thing even more! I’ve yet to try a pair, but my mister also agrees with as he’s worked in a hospital using these. Look, these ones are serrated! I use these Gingher Applique Scissors (on the left above) for narrow hems, like say on a circle skirt. Surprisingly that’s about the only thing I use these for, but I do find them very useful in that instance. They are handy to have around when you need to get nice and close to an edge.
Last, but not least, I do have a pair of Gingher pinkers. I’ve seen these used as a seam finish, but I use them for trimming curved seams. You know how you’re supposed to notch or clip curved seams so they lay right? I use pinkers instead and trim the seam to about 1/4″. Granted this is only on enclosed seams, but they are very useful for this purpose.
Back a few years ago, I made a little peg board especially for my shears (and then from there I added other items to it too). It’s very handy as all my scissors are hanging up and out of the way and they are easy to access when I need them. Took an old picture frame from a thrift shop and had some peg board precut to the right dimensions and voila – instant scissor hanger!
There’s my arsenal of scissors. I don’t use much in the way of a rotary cutter – though I have two for odd jobs. I’m a shears and scissors lover. What about you? Are there special scissors that really help you? Or do you use a rotary cutter? Thoughts on the best ones you’ve tried? We’d all love to know!
Fall has lasted forever here, but winter is just around the corner and with it holiday time! Is it just me or do the dresses that come out around this time of year shock you? What I’m talking about is the fact that there seems to be an awful lot of dresses that flood the market for the “holidays” and they are more often than not, wispy little things, sleeveless and well, they look like you could catch a death of cold in them! It’s something that I think about every year when this part of the year rolls around. “Gosh that’s a pretty dress, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it in this weather” as I look outside and see snow falling. Granted I live in a state where the snow does fly and it can get pretty cold. And in general, I get cold and I’m always bundled up to the nines and in something much more dreadfully boring than those fun holiday dresses.
Anyhow, I was thinking about all of this when the idea hit me that I needed more winter friendly dresses. I got myself over to a local chain fabric store on my lunch hour one day and started gandering at the Newlook book. I don’t know why, but I always overlook the Newlook and Kwik Sew patterns. Newlook has some pretty great patterns though. I found several dress patterns that had fun necklines and yet seemed like a quick sewing fix. That’s what this Newlook 6144 (out of print now!) was and I knew it would be a perfect addition to the winter dress library.
This dress was also work appropriate. This is something I’ve been rolling around in the old noggin for a while now and I’ll be doing more posts about, but work appropriate clothes can sometimes be pretty hard to accomplish. Well, they are for me. I’m wanting to look a certain, professional, yet fun, exciting and stylish way and the two get sort of blended together in a way that doesn’t always work for me. More on that to come.
I decided to use a stash piece of fabric. All of the fabric was stash, actually (yay! I’m so proud of myself!). I was determined to use stash! The body is Linton Tweed and it is pretty thick. Quite thick really, and warm – perfect for snowy days. The sleeves are a navy wool crepe I had and then I lined the dress in bemberg rayon lining – some bits and bobs that I had lying around so that I could get the pieces used up. I used an invisible zip and used a lining treatment for the vent that comes from my favorite Easy Guide to Sewing Linings book.
The tweed was marvelous to work with. It did what I wanted it to do and was very easy to press and shape. I had purchased this fabric a couple of years ago, from their pretty fantastic online store. To be honest, if you’re into fine fabrics much, the prices for these tweeds are not really as much as I was anticipating they would be – I mean don’t get me wrong, they are expensive. I’ve seen them range from $25 – $75 per meter which seems standard when you’re looking at fine unique wools. The shipping is fairly costly, but I remember I received my package within 3 days!
I took the time to do plaid matching and was very happy with the way my Pfaff stitched it together using that Integrated Dual Feed! I used the lining trick from this Threads article (same lady who wrote Easy Guide to Sewing Linings) and it’s one of my favorite techniques to use with facings. I opted for a more conservative fabric belt and belt loops instead of the OBI belt that came with the pattern. I handstitched the hem and used rayon seam binding for hem tape as a final finishing touch.
All in all, this dress turned out pretty great. The fitting was fairly simple, the construction too and I’m thrilled that I have an appropriate winter dress for the workplace – if not a little party get together after! I’m so glad it’s warm – like winter coat warm! Yay! Ready or not Winter, here I come!
What do you do to keep warm in the winter? How do you work around the holiday dresses that flood the market this time of year and seem ill equipped to deal with winter weather? Is it just me? I just don’t know how you wear a sleeveless wispy dress in the snow. Last, but not least, visit my Kollabora page for a full detailed review of this dress.