Friday, July 19, 2013

Black + silver sequined tee

I never make t-shirts. Never. My mind is always thinking they are too simple to make. I like complexity and challenge. I'll just buy them instead, I tell myself. Except, I am finding good quality t-shirts harder and harder to locate. These days they all seem to be extremely thin and made from rayon or modal. Which starts off so soft and feels like liquid next to the skin. And then it pills like crazy after several washes. Tell me I'm not the only one to notice this. Where has 100% cotton gone off to?

So anyway, I've made my very first t-shirt:

The body is made from a sequined wave cotton jersey from Mood fabrics. I ordered a swatch of it several months ago and fell in love. The sequins are sewn on with nylon thread on top and cotton thread underneath, which provides lots of strength to keep the sequins on and protects your skin from any scratchiness of the nylon. I washed and dried it before starting this project and only noticed one sequin come off (which was probably on an edge somewhere). The sleeves and neck binding are a bamboo knit, also from Mood fabrics, left over from this project last October.

Several patterns were pieced together for this project - Vogue 8536 for the body and McCall's 6559 for the neckline - both of which I have made previously. I cut the sleeves way back for more of a modern look and made the hem a high-low. After I got everything traced out to my satisfaction I made a muslin to test the fit. A few adjustments later and I was ready to cut into my fabric.

If you are going to tackle a project with sequins, be prepared to get them EVERY WHERE! At first I just sewed the shoulder seams with the sequins attached, but they were all caught in the seam and there was no way to iron. Plus, it would have been super uncomfortable to wear a top with sequins scratching my skin at all the seamlines. I tried cutting them out of the seam after it was stitched but realized that wasn't going to work either. No, I had to remove all the sequins in the way of any seam before I stitched it. I started season 1 of "Alias" with my fabric and seam ripper, and am now on episode 9. I'll let you do the math.

For the sleeves I used my twin needle at the hemline. I stitched the neck binding doubled to the inside of the garment, then graded the seams and flipped it to the outside. This way any sequins on the edge got encased in the binding and I got a neat finish to the neckline.

Also, I decided to try sewing the sleeves in flat - like they do in RTW (ready to wear) - and stitched a tiny bit of topstitching to keep the underarm seam flat against the sleeve.

Dressform pictures:

The hemline involved more removal of sequins. I decided I didn't want to try using a twin needle and topstitching, so I stitched the hem entirely by hand with a whip-stitch. You can also see the cotton threads along the inside of this fabric.

I used my overlocking foot to finish all the seamlines.

My goal was to make this top casual enough to throw on with a pair of capris or jeans, and I think I was successful. This simple t-shirt turned out to be quite a bit of work! I felt like one of those ladies in couture design houses, all dressed in white, with their needle and thread in hand.

Monday, July 8, 2013

NL 6219 - Orange & navy toddler sailboat dress

Now that Rachel has grown big enough for the toddler patterns, I am having lots of fun making her some clothes. At first I had a hard time finding fabrics that I like. The quilting cottons at my local fabric stores aren't very good quality and wrinkle quickly - not what you want for little girls' clothing. However, I have recently discovered the coordinating quilting fabrics at, which are the perfect weight for clothing and hold up really well to lots of activity. 

This little dress is from NewLook 6219, a pattern I bought for the ruffled dress over ruffled pants outfit featured on the envelope. I cut the size 1/2 for the width and "sleeves" and the size 1 for length. Rachel is almost 3 but very petite. The bodice has a downward curve at the front waist seam that I cut off and made straight. I also put the side seams on the actual sides and not the side front. (This pattern has those side front seams because of the ruffled version.)

The belt was originally really tall and drafted way too short to reach around the waist. Luckily I had enough fabric to recut a longer one. I added navy piping to the belt and sleeves - the white belt directly on top of the orange bodice just didn't look quite right to my eye. I used big navy ric rac along the bottom.

Rachel has come a long way since I took these pictures of her, and will actually take some direction now. I said, "Hold on the railing so mama can get a picture of the back" and she actually did it! The back neckline is so cute on this dress. I couldn't find the right color of orange-red for the zipper so I used white. It could have been special ordered from NYC but I was ready to make this and didn't want to wait.

The only thing I will change next time is to move the sleeve in a bit. The bodice bunches outward when she moves around and I can see down the front.

I matched the center back seams for fun. The insides were finished with my overlocking foot (no pictures, sorry.) I used navy thread on top and white thread in the bobbin when I stitched on the ric rac.

This was a really fun dress to make! I wanted her to have a new dress for July 4th but we went to Lake LBJ for the extended weekend and ended up not taking it. Here are some shots of our trip:

You can just see me sitting at the table. This is the only picture I made it into!
That's my niece on the left. She and Daniel are inseparable when they're together.

Now I'm off to do a mountain of laundry and a ton of unpacking...