Friday, August 26, 2016

Fast Friday Review: Sewing Essentials Serger Techniques

Ever since I got over (most of) my fears about my serger, I've been picking up books about it, too. Most of them are interesting, but they often don't go beyond the very basics and if you have to troubleshoot, you are on your own. 

Sewing Essentials: Serger Techniques covers the basics, but also goes well beyond them. In particular, one of the challenges I have with my Singer 14T967DC (it's discontinued, but if you have one, the workbook for it from Singer is pretty great), is that, since the tension for the loopers/needles are set automatically, I don't always have a good sense of how to change the setup. I mean, I can balance a stitch, but I have not been able to get the rolled hem to, well, roll. 

Until I had this book! It covers not just how to set things up, but what to do if they go wrong. And, by the way, it's not just you, you shouldn't TRY to turn corners while using a rolled hem. Just end it, use a little fray check, and go on with your life. (Yay!)

You may know the author, Pamela Leggett, from Pamela's Patterns. I haven't used any of her patterns, but I love her writing style and I have closely read all of the pieces I've seen from her in Threads magazine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Fall Means New Classes!

I love teaching! This Fall, I'm signed up to teach two classes for the St. Louis Park Community Center. There are more details here. Come one, come all!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sheer Summer Blouse!

Cat toy, because cats

Bathroom selfie, of course.
I think Dee was kind of scared when I was making this, and not just of the scraggly way the neckline looked before I added the neckband. She may have been rehearsing how she was going to tell me that there was NO WAY I could wear such a sheer blouse in public.

My sweet wife doesn't understand the Way of the Cami. 

This is Simplicity 1315 in a super-sheer Goodwill Mystery Fabric (that I got for $2). I'm thinking it's a synthetic organza or very light chiffon. It has absolutely no stretch and a light body with a relatively crisp drape. 

I cut the size for my high bust and didn't make any alterations for fit, since the design ease on this is so generous. I French-seamed everything, even the neckband. I simply folded it in half and applied it a lot like a t-shirt band. That made it narrower than the photo from the packet, but I prefer that look.

Hems were a little tricky. I tried to hem the sleeves using my narrow hemmer foot, and it was ok, but there were a few spots where the fabric didn't fold all of the way under. So, I turned it under one more time and did my best. For the lower hem, I made the narrowest turned-under hem that I could. 

To keep the fabric from acting up, I switched out my throat plate for straight stitching and used a straight-stitch foot. I followed everyone's advice and used a completely fresh sewing needle. I don't always do that, but it made sense for this project. 

I machine-washed the fabric on gentle and dried it on low before I started. I will probably handwash and hang the top to dry. The fabric did this weird crinkly thing along the cross-grain when I put it in the dryer and I definitely don't want to have to press all of that out, again. For the record, I hang about 75% of my clothes to dry, but I don't  handwash a lot (except for qiviut socks).

If anyone out there needs an extra reason to try Goodwill as a fabric source: when it's this cheap, you're not afraid of messing up your fabric. You just go for it. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Pocket Stays

The summer edition of Interweave Knits has two sewing patterns in it, so I feel a little better about having "knitter" in my name, but some sewing on my blog.

Warning: The rest of this post may make you want to sew your jeans. And your shorts.

Yes, I'm so excited about the pants I made, that I'm showing you my tummy. Check Instagram for the rear view.

There is a key phrase missing from a lot of sewing patterns, even when the pattern has the feature: "pocket stay." I'm thinking that designers don't talk about it because they figure most people don't know what it is or how awesome a feature it is.

At a minimum, pockets really should come up to the waist. In Making Trousers for Men & Women, David Page Coffin writes, "I recommend extending your pocket bags to reach whatever waist finish you’ve chosen. This way, you can support the bag from the waist rather than only from the pocket mouth."

When I say, "pocket stay" in jeans, I mean a front pocket that comes all of the way from the zipper to the outside leg seam. It's also caught in the waistband (but, I think, all jeans-style pockets would be, anyway). In a way, the pocket becomes a kind of mini-lining that does two things. 1) Your pockets can't flip out. I don't know if I'm the only person annoyed by having to tuck my pockets back in when they come out, but it really bothers me. 2) Any tension on the front of your pants has a little extra support, which keeps the front of your jeans from stretching out as your day goes on.

For some people, this feature could act as a "tummy control" panel, but I don't think of it that way. I definitely notice, now, when I wear jeans that don't have a pocket stay, that the front tends to stretch out. But really, the not-untucked pockets is my favorite part of having a pocket stay.

Up until about a year ago, I wouldn't have known that this feature even existed in jeans. But I happened to try on a pair of Not Your Daughter's Jeans at Macy's. Even on sale, they were the most expensive pair of jeans I'd ever worn, but they felt awesome and looked great, so I bought them.

I felt much better about my splurge when I found an almost identical pair at Goodwill a few weeks later and only paid $5 for them. When I average the two, it bring the cost below my usual $40/pair budget. Coincidentally, that's what my jeans fabric cost when I bought it, too.

Killer feature in both of these jeans? Pocket stays.

Now I look out for them, or ask the designer about them, before I buy any pattern for a pair of pants.

So far, I've made J. Stern Designs' The Ponte Knit Jeans (My first sewn zipper fly! My first pants!) in ponte knit and, after Jennifer chatted with me on Instagram, in stretch denim. I  bought her misses' Jeans that have the same feature, with a different fit, but I haven't tried them, yet. My first two pairs fit so well that I might not branch out, though.

I own Stretch and Sew 716 - which has pocket stays, but doesn't call them that. Instead, it says, "The front pockets extend into the zipper stitching, creating a smooth, stabilized front." I haven't made any, yet, but I'm super-curious about how they will fit. Those chicks from 1980 look pretty pleased with themselves.

You can draft your own pocket stays to go with any pattern, of course. There is more than one tutorial for that out there, including this one.

Go forth and stay those pockets! Ask your friendly independent designer if their pants/shorts include that feature. Then buy them.

I find it amusing that my paypal account has basically become a way for me to turn my Ravelry and Craftsy pattern sales into sewing patterns.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Sip Study Knit Knitting Guild - June 18

See, I still knit. Although this isn't for class. Oops.

It's been quiet on the blog (and podcast), I know! There are two main reasons:

1) Sewing.
Yes, I know. I'm starting to calm down a little bit, but whenever I have a stretch of free time, I pounce on my sewing machine. Knitting will always be my first, and truest, love, but I'm really enjoying learning something from scratch.

2) Teaching.
I was chatting with a friend a few months ago and this phrase came out of my mouth:

"I love teaching. I really love it. More than almost anything."

You know how, sometimes, you realize, after you said something, that it's really, really true?

So, I've been building more teaching into my life. I know the podcast and, really, this blog, feed that need, too. But, there's no substitute for hands-on teaching.

I'm putting the finishing touches on two classes that I will present in the Chicago Area in a little over a month. Swatching and writing worksheets takes a lot of time! Here are the details, ripped off of the flyer the guild made:


Coming To The Sip Study Knit Knitting Guild In Hoffman Estates, IL
Come join us Saturday June 18, 2016
Two 2 - three-hour workshops

9am - 12pm - Socks for SSK
Lara will inspire us into the world of knitting the most unique, wonderful, and awesome socks of your life. Lara will start our customized class with an overview of why certain heels and toes fit different feet. Then, we can go through each step of making a toe-up gusseted heel as time permits.  Bring your favorite needles for working in the round and yarn to match.$50 members / $75 non-members

1pm - 4pm - Color Work for the Cowardly
Do you want to add more color to your knitting, but are sick of seams and tired of puckers? Join Lara for an afternoon of tips, techniques and a few tricks up her sleeve to make you fall in love with multiple-strand knitting and even intarsia (really!) Bring an open mind, small amounts of worsted-weight yarn in at least two colors and your favorite needles for working in the round. $50 members / $75 non members

Contact Emma at SipStudyKnit (at)    -    Or check out our Ravelry Group Sip Study Knit

Sip Study Knit is a Knitting Guild located in the Chicago Suburbs Focusing on providing an educational experience for the intermediate to advanced knitter.


I'm pretty sure there are still open spots in both classes, so check it out if you are in the area!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

V-neck Accomplished!

It's a slippery, slinky knit fabric, so it wasn't easy to sew, but it feels WONDERFUL on and I love the drape! It's the perfect background piece for a smashing knit wrap.

Yes, very pro photo - nothing like the lady's room.

I hacked the v-neck from this pattern onto the t-shirt I've made a few times. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Party Like It's 1984

With Many, Many Apologies to Shakespeare

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.
I come to bury the 1980s, not to praise them.
The evil that shoulderpads do lives after them;
The good is oft interrèd with their bones.
So let it be with the '80s. The noble Brutus
Hath told you that decade was ambitious.
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath hair gel answered it.


Ok, all goofiness aside, sewing has spawned, for me, an interest that is...unusual. In the course of the last few months, I've become an enthusiast and collector of patterns from Stretch & Sew, a company that no longer exists!

It was founded by Ann Person, and you can learn a lot more about here here.

I was born in 1979, so I'm not especially wild about 1980s style. It's easier for me to be nostalgic about the 1970s and see the punk-rock side of all of the decades after that as fun. This could be because of my body shape. Those shoulder pads and big hair did very little for my ten-year-old, but already wide-shoulder sporting frame.

However, I pick up Stretch & Sew patterns wherever I find them, no matter the vintage or style. (I've had great luck at Goodwill and, lately, at the Textile Center Garage Sale.) I'm very unlikely to ever want a Dolman Sleeve dress. But, I DO want a good way to sew a v-neck, with awesomely clear instructions. So, this is going to be hacked onto another top pattern that I like, as a test.

I have to admit that those boots are pretty cute, though. That front view uses snap tape, which is pretty much restricted to children's clothes, now. It might look super-cute with a zipper, instead. Hm.