Sunday, April 13, 2014

Book Review: Sewing Lingerie (1991)

As part of the Singer Reference Library, the Sewing Lingerie book from 1991 covers lingerie construction from fabric, lace, and elastic selection to how to construct beautifully detailed custom lingerie.

For the lace instructions covers lace overlays, appliqué, motif matching, and lace insertion techniques. I was amazed by how thorough and extensive the information all presented with step-by-step photos. While I lack the motivation or inclination to make my own lingerie past simple knit underwear, this book should be all that is desired for anyone else to take on the task. Other things included are how to cut woven fabric on the bias and takes you through the construction of basic bikini briefs to slips, tap pants, teddies, dressy robes, kimonos, and flannel-lined silk robes.

For a more thorough review, check out this one by Renee from Miss Celie's Pants.

The fact that the book is long out-of-print should not be a negative. Though the book can still be found in some local libraries, the book can also be found through numerous Internet booksellers. I purchased two other volumes of this Singer series (The Perfect Fit and Sewing Pants That Fit) from for only $.99 each! Though I might not see myself using this book to its fullest, I will probably locate and purchase a copy just for the individual techniques. Therefore, I highly recommend this book.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Book Review: Sewing With Knits (1992)

Sewing With Knits (1992) is part of the brilliant Singer Sewing Reference Library series and covers construction of knit garments from A to Z. The book explains fabric types, care, how to select the right elastic and all the seam finishes you would want to know in order to make your garments look professional, there are no wavy seams here!

Some of the things covered in this volume:

  • How to sew knits, from interlock to stretch velvet to two-way stretch fabrics
  • Eight different ways for finishing necklines (p.36-45)
  • Create perfect knit plackets and welt pockets (p.76-79)
  • Five different elastic waistband treatments (p. 90-95)
  • Construct neat and tidy buttonholes using fusible web (p. 109)
  • Blocking sweater knits (p. 20)
  • Dealing with knits fabric that have nap such as velvet, velour, stretch terry (p.104-105)

Two really cool tips too good to keep secret:

  • The best overlock thread colors to have are not neccessarily black and white, look what can be accomplished with just an off-white, gray/taupe and a rosy shade of red (p. 23)
  • Lining the knee area to prevent baggy knees in knit pants (p. 60-1)

In addition, a special section on swimsuits and leotards (pages 112-123) shows how to:

  • Adjust paper patterns for swimsuit torso adjustments
  • Apply elastic or elastized binding
  • Create partial linings for swimsuits
  • Constrict bandeau top linings with or without bra cups
  • Produce professional elastized straps

Last but not least, I am again impressed with how well all the information is presented with clear step-by-step photos.

This book is long out-of-print but can be easily found on Etsy, eBay, and used book sellers like and Amazon. If you're lucky, you can also find it in your local library like I did but I think you will probably do better to get your own copy. Watch out for overpriced copies though, I've seen them listed for far over $20(!) when I found my own copies of other volumes in this series (The Perfect Fit and Sewing Pants That Fit) for only 99 cents each! Don't get hoodwinked. I highly recommend this book and now that I have read five books in the series, I will be looking out for the rest of them too.*

*Tailoring (1988), Sewing Activewear (1987), are a few I am interested in.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Clutch A Crepe Suzette - (exclusive download)

Pattern: Crepe Suzette Circular Clutch, a HotPatterns/ exclusive pattern.

Pattern Description: Simple fold-over lined clutch features interior phone and small pocket with stitched dividers. Clutch has a shaped gusset to add depth to the sides and bottom, topstitching around the edges and closes with a magnetic purse snap.

Pattern Sizing: One size, approximately 8" tall by 14" wide.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Well...

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I checked and unfortunately, found that only one person has reviewed this pattern. As I went along, I found that there were problems with this pattern and its instructions starting with the location marks for the magnetic snaps. If you follow the pattern markings, they will not meet. Even the illustrations in the instructions show the locations wrong.

Fabric Used: 5/8 yd of black corduroy, 5/8" yd black boucle, 5/8 yards of red brushed twill (former Nautica buttoned tab curtains from Target) as lining, Pellon Shape-Flex (SF101) woven fusible interfacing, Pellon Easy-Knit (EK130) fusible tricot interfacing, and one Dritz 3/4" magnetic snap.

Before Construction: First thing, first, I cut and ripped the drapery panels on all four sides to make sure the fabric was on grain before I cut out the pieces.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: The marking for the magnetic closure on the pocket is in the wrong place on the pattern piece and on the illustrations in the instructions. Therefore, I first moved the snap location mark towards the bottom of the pocket pattern piece. I also "walked" the pattern to make sure that all the notches would match on both the main, pocket, and gusset pieces.

Having never used a magnetic closure I was happy to find this tutorial on Made By Rae and this one by You SEW Girl that made the job a no-brainer.
The illustrations for step 5a (see above) were confusing and because of the above mistake I decided to create a mockup of the purse, reducing the size drastically, to about 1/5 the size.

The three photos above are step 5a. You want to match notches and stitch each gusset to the pocket piece with the pocket in between.

The overhang at each top corner is stitched together so that the gussets can be turned to the right side and not only line the gusset section but also encase any raw edges.
The front pocket and lined gusset assembly.

Note: When constructing the real purse, I found myself with a corduroy that picked up every last piece of lint, no longer looking as rich as I wanted. I found some black boucle in the stash but instead of scraping one for the other, I underlined the interfaced boucle with the already interfaced corduroy for a thicker fabric. Therefore, with some of the pieces, I was working with double the fabric weight and I liked the resulting heft.
Lined pocket
Another problem I had with the instructions was step 3a. I didn't like that according to them the inner pockets would have visible raw edges inside so I cut two pockets pieces, (one of a silkier lining material) sewed them right sides together, and turned them right sides out.

In step 6, because of the fabric weight I decided to back the red twill with a layer of light interfacing before I attached the pocket/gusset piece.

The interior of the fully lined purse with gusset panel and inside cell phone pocket before step 7.

The exterior of the pocket and gusset panel, featuring the magnetic snap.

Step 7 has you sandwich the two parts of the purse, right sides together. Here you can see the two different types of interfacing I used in my purse: the Easy-Knit is fused to the lighter twill used for the interior while the Shape-Flex takes on the heft of the corduroy and boucle layers that make up the clutch and pocket exterior.

In this step, they instruct you to leave a section open between the two bottom notches so that you can turn the purse right side out. However, I felt that part should look the most finished, so instead I left a section open at the top instead. I would rather hand stitch that section closed than the many fabric and interfacing layers that made up the weight-bearing portion of the clutch. The pattern says to topstitch all edges, which would probably add more structure to the clutch; however, I found this would not work with my fabric choice so I did not.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I would love to make this shape in a graphic print or floral. I think this is a great clutch pattern and I recommend it with the corrections and changes that I made.

Cartoon version!

Conclusion: I am very happy with my purse. This would be a great pattern if the instructions and illustrations were updated. I love that there are no unfinished seams (the way I made it) and the unusual shape. I searched the Internet and could not find another like it.

Images: website illustration and my own photos

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Please Help Me With New Look 6145

I am loving the fit of the muslin* in these two pics, the neckline is flattering and not too wide. The shoulder looks good with just enough ease.

As you can see below, the back seam of the top is completely sewn up, however, when I raise my arms suddenly all this fabric appears. I know this is probably an armscye issue but which one and how to fix it?  Looking through all  twenty of my sewing books, none mentioned this issue specifically.

So, is this normal, is this ok? It has been a while since I made a straight non-gathered bodice in a woven fabric so I'm not sure. I can add some shoulder darts but is there more that I should do?

I think the armscye is too tight and needs to be lowered, what do you think? 
Please help me, I really want to move on to the dress. Any ideas?

*By the way, while I like this fit, in order for this top to become my inspiration shift dress I will need it to fit looser anyway.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Layered Folds Skirt - Paprika Patterns Jade

Surprise! This skirt was actually made in 2013 as a test of the pattern but I just received the OK from the designer to go ahead and publish my review. Sign up at Paprika Patterns to be alerted the minute the pattern is available for purchase.

Pattern: Jade by Paprika Patterns c. 2013 (designed by Lisa of SmallThings) Sign up here to be alerted when this pattern is released.

Pattern Description: Self-lined knit skirt with contoured waistband and optional back zipper in two lengths, micro-mini, and mid-thigh. Skirt consists of diagonal folds on the front paired with a plain back. I made View B, the longer of the skirts at 19 inches.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 2-3-4-5 (equivalent to EUR 36-42 or US size 8-14.) I chose size 5, the largest, and the one that matched my measurements.

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

The layered folds.
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes, they were. All of my problems were because of my choice of fabric.
Step 6 of the very helpful tutorial
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? The pattern was based on the designs in the Drape Drape books, so of course I liked that. In addition, because of the clever lining construction there are no exposed seams on the inside. I love that the photographed tutorial is still available on the Small Things blog. The tutorial will allow the pattern to be used by a larger segment of the population since as a ready-to-wear size 8/10 I was the largest size available.


Fabric Used: A 58/60" polyester 5% Lycra print from Hancock Fabrics, leftover Rayon/Spandex knit in Potent Purple from Jo-Ann Fabrics (lining), thread, and Dritz sports elastic in 1-1/2" and 1/4" widths.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made?: Because I was using leftover fabric from another project for the lining, I had to piece the back lining together instead of cutting it on the fold. Because my choice in fabric the construction of my pleats was time-consuming and required that I do a lot of basting, not only under the folds as in the instructions, but also on the folded edges of each tier. Otherwise, my fabric kept wandering out of place. Even so, some lines of basting would have to be removed and redone each time I changed the arrangement.

Preparing to baste folds.

When fitting the side seams, instead of using pins I machine-basted the sides before turning it inside out. Because the skirt is so form fitting, my first fitting using pins was painful. My outside fabric stretched out too much at the waistline and I had to adjust the side seams. I eventually removed almost 2 and a half inches at the top, bringing in the waistline enough that I could just get it over my hips, and widened the seam allowance at the hips and below by 2/8” to the eliminate the obvious “cupping” effect of the skirt. Because of the instability of this fabric, I decided against a zipper and decided to insert wide elastic in the waistband. I did not want it to look like an elastic waistband so I used just enough so it could get over my hips, and then tighten up at the waist, much like the fit on these skirts.


However, in these pictures, I was wearing the skirt with the waistband turned to the inside of the skirt much like a facing

Updated: I decided I preferred elastic in the waist. My skirt waistband ended up being 1 3/4" wide and I could not find that size elastic in the local stores. Therefore, I bought a basic sport elastic (not too stiff) in both 1 1/2" and 1/4" widths. Using a narrow zigzag stitch, I sewed them together flat and it worked! If you try this, make sure that the two elastics you use have the same amount of stretch and recovery.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I may make this again but in a stable knit. Most of my skirts are A-line and worn to work while this one could go out for cocktails. I recommend the pattern. It produced a unique and flattering skirt. If you choose to use a double knit or an interlock, you could use the zipper option. Both fabrics would also form and hold the pleats better than this jersey. I suggest that if you are using a thin drapey knit you might want to apply spray starch and keep the fabric damp while doing the folding parts.

Lisa's original and my version
Conclusion: What a sassy little skirt, right? Great first pattern from Paprika Patterns and I am curious as to what they have in the pipeline next.

Images: SmallThings blog tutorial, and my own photos.