Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Sewing Blogger Interview by Faye's Sewing Adventures


Faye from Faye's Sewing Adventure interviewed me today on her blog--thank you Faye for including me in your series of sewing blogger interviews!!

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Neoprene Backpack Experiment Using Mollie Makes Issue 42

Y'all know I love that backpack I made last year.   It's probably the best thing I ever made.   While it's the perfect size for a wallet, keys, phone, plus a few little things, and is fully lined with interfacing, etc, as well as being totally built to last,  I wanted a bag a little bigger and lighter for trips to NYC or even walking into town at lunch.
I have also been somewhat attracted to double faced neoprene.  I thought neoprene was pretty light, so the plan was to make an unlined backpack with the dark side of the neoprene facing out, and the lighter side in, because I prefer my bags to have light linings as it makes it easier to see the contents of my bag.   The plan was also to use plastic hardware and nylon zippers to also keep the weight down.

I bought 3/4 of a yard of double faced neoprene from a local, independent fabric store in Kingston, NJ called "More Than a Notion Fabrics".  This fabric is $40 a yard, making it the most expensive fabric (on a per yard basis) I've ever purchased.  It is a "hot raspberry" on one side and black on the other, and ~2 mm thick.
The cat bed stage of bag making....

First I did some internet research on how to sew with neoprene.  The best advice I found was from Catherine Daze's blog, where she said to use the biggest needle available, which for me was a 110/18 leather needle I found at Joann's.  It is a super thick and substantial needle.     I lowered the tension on my machine to a 3 and used a 3.0 stitch length and 4.0 stitch length for topstitching.

I was also warned about not using pins as they leave holes.  I love wonder clips, so I used them.  When I did have to rip something out, I did so carefully and then ironed (with a press cloth) the neoprene on the cotton setting with a dry iron and it sealed the holes up, or at least enough that it was good enough!

The Mollie Makes floral backpack; the leather 110/18 needles

As for the pattern, I used the floral backpack pattern from Mollie Makes Issue 42 as the base, but put my own pocket on the front, as I wanted a zipper and theirs was a magnetic closure.  Their templates are free on their website.  I have a few warnings about this pattern:

  • There are no test squares on any of their pattern sheets to verify the pattern is the right size.  Be sure to have your PDF settings set to "Actual Size" instead of "Fit to Print" (as I did the first time I printed the pattern).   
  • Their patterns are meant to be printed on A4 paper (they are a UK mag) and  I'm in the US so the labels for each page were cut off.
  • There are no grainlines on this pattern so I cut the "band" (for lack of a better term) with the grain so that it wouldn't be prone to stretching.
  • If you do line the bag, do not follow the instructions which have you handstiching the lining to the zipper at the end.  Instead, make a zipper sandwich with your zipper and exterior fabric and lining pieces and go from there.
So then I started sewing, knowing that this is just an experiment and maybe #thismightnotendwell.   I had a few false starts here and there, but it actually ended very well!

The main zipper

Surprisingly, the main zipper is a 22" purse zipper from Joann's!  It is an "O" type zipper, meaning it has two closed ends and two sliders, like a luggage zipper.  This zipper is totally perfect!

Unusual pattern shape
Sewing the piping across the side of the bag

The pocket zippers

The pocket zippers are nylon zippers from Emmaline bags website.  I love the little foxtail pull.
Another pocket

I added another pocket for my calling cards, no zipper so I can access them easily.  

More surprises

  • At a few points I wanted to sharpie marker the raspberry edge but then I decided not to.  It is neat to see those pops of color
  • I was surprised at how heavy the neoprene was.
  • I was more surprised at how heavy the straps were!  The strapping is cotton and from Pacific Trimming, stored in my stash, and that really weighed the bag down.  
  • I had already sewn in the nylon zippers, but because of the above, I decided to use metal rectangle rings and sliders.
  • It actually doesn't feel too heavy wearing it.  Phew!  

The raw edges
  • Initially I was going to leave the edges raw
  • Then I bound some of the edges in narrow double fold bias tape which looked nice to finish the raw edge itself, but my stitching line of the bag pieces was with black thread, and on hot pink it didn't look so good (especially as I sewed over some seams many times to get the piping to be as close as possible.  
  • 20160228_113824
  • A commenter on IG suggested using strips of bias tape to wrap around the whole edge. I wound up using strips of black ponte knit and that really made the binding look nice, professional and intentional!  Yay!
  • 20160228_154834
Having a machine with an extension bed, and one that is powerful enough for quilting, really helps with bag making.  This is my BabyLock Soprano and is the first bag I have made on this machine.  The amount of power this machine has is amazing.

The verdict
I love it!  It is a great size, holds a lot without being too large, and is very functional.  I have used it almost every day since making it and really enjoy it.  There is a little journal (actually the Five Minute Journal, have you heard of it?) I have been carrying around that has a white cover, and the raspberry is rubbing off on it, but that doesn't bother me.  However, it is something to be aware of:  the color might rub off.  It kind of makes me wonder if the black is rubbing off on the back of my coat, but my coat is a dark gray so I guess I wouldn't notice til it's time to switch coats.

Be well!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Simplicity 2154 Epic Skirt Post #5: The Completed Skirt, Modeled!

Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
Thanks everyone for following along on my posts about my #epicskirt adventure:   #1 (the wool), #2 (rayon bemberg lining), #3 (sewing a lining to a kickpleat), and #4 (attaching lining to the zipper, the waistband, square snaps, and thread chains).
Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
  Today you get to see the completed skirt, modeled! Yay!
Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
Summary of materials:

  • Thick textured neon (fluoro as per velosewer) wool:  Elliott Berman, NYC
  • Gray rayon bemberg lining:  Vogue Fabrics, online
  • Interfacing:  Fashion Sewing Supply, online
  • Gray invisible zip:  SIL Thread, NYC
  • Large Square Snap:  Botani, NYC
  • Small Square Snap:  Daytona Trim, NYC
  • Pattern:  Simplicity 2154, a 1960's Retro pencil skirt

Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
Sorry, the back is wrinkled from my commute to work.
Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
I really took my time with this skirt and learned a lot along the way, as I shared in my previous posts.  This skirt took 2 weekends for me to sew, but I really got into the process.

High-level lessons learned:

  • Wool is awesome to sew and press
  • Slippery rayon bemberg isn't as difficult to work with as I thought it would be 
  • Lining a garment really makes the exterior of the garment look good.  I saw the difference after lining it.
  • Using a RTW garment as a guide is super helpful.
  • The only thing I would possibly change about this skirt is to miter the corners on the inside of the kickpleat.  The RTW study guide did NOT miter the corners, and it didn't occur to me to do that until I read Peter's post about how to miter the corners of a kickpleat which was about a week after I finished my skirt.  I was tempted to undo what I had done, but I am going to leave well enough alone.
Simplicity 2154 #epicskirt
Caption this photo

Styling a neon and gray skirt
I bought the shirt I'm wearing for $4 from a thrift shop in Princeton.  My tights are also gray.  I don't currently have any gray shoes, so I wore my navy blue shoes instead.
I would like to make a gray sweater knit top using S1283 as the base with the neckline and giant collar of the Sewaholic Renfrew.  I think that would work too.

Be well!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Simplicity 2154 Epic Skirt Post #4: Zipper, waistband, square snaps, and thread chain

Thank you for your comments from post 1 (the wool), post 2 (the rayon bemberg lining), and post 3 (sewing the lining to the kickpleat).

Today's Epic Skirt installment centers around the zipper, waistband, square snaps, and thread chain.

The zipper
Instead of sewing the zipper at the side seam as per the pattern, I sewed it at CB.

I followed Sunny Gal studio's tutorial on how to sew an invisible zipper without an invisible zipper foot.  I really enjoy this tutorial and have used it for a few years now.

In my last post I wrote about my study garment, a brand new Talbot's skirt I bought at a thrift shop for $6.    I looked to see how the lining was sewn to the zipper and it was machine stitched on, so I did the same thing.  I had previously pressed back the opening of the lining where the zipper would be , so there was a nice press line there.  I had already basted the lining to the top of the skirt so I had to undo some of the basting so that I could flip the lining and skirt inside out in that area, then used my zipper foot to sew the lining to the zipper tape.    I then basted the lining back to the top of the skirt in that area.

The waistband

I always cut my waistbands longer than they need to be, sew them on, then cut off the excess. That way I won't wind up with a waistband that's just a little too short.  Since the kickpleat, from the outside, is overlapped left over right, I did the same thing with the waistband and lapped it left over right. 


When I first basted the waistband on and sat down in the skirt, suddenly the whole thing was too small!  I undid the waistband and let out the side seams  near the top of the skirt and skirt lining (I had taken out some of the hip curve previously, and that was still fine, it was just the top of the skirt that was the problem. I will say at this point I was SO GLAD I had not serged the raw edges of the lining together-that instead I had serged the edges separately and then sewn them.  That meant I could still alter the skirt in this way--phew!!!

I then stitched in the ditch from the outside to sew the waistband down.


Square snaps
Square snaps were then sewn on, as I prefer snaps to a hook and eye.  The large square snap is from Botani and the small one is from Daytona Trim.

Thread chain
The Talbots skirt had a thread chain (I don't know what else to call it) near the hem of the skirt to attach the bottom of the lining to the bottom of the skirt.  I made some serger tails and then hand stitched them on.

What's Next??
The big reveal: me wearing the #epicskirt!  

Be well!