Monday, December 30, 2013


This is the 'oh good lord, it could be a good idea if it wasn't so much like a bald cap' first version of my son's bike balaclava, or Bikeaclava.

We've had a nasty cold snap in Seattle this last month (low20's F) which is, I am sure, a good hearty laugh for many of you. And a beanie just won't fit under the helmet and keep it properly fit.

If you have ever launched over your handlebars, this will mean a lot more to you.

I am also sure many of you like to keep your ears when you bike to school, or work, and if you are my son, your bike ride will not be denied.

The straps hold down the double layer ear flaps, the double layer should follow the curve of the helmet (if you draw on the base part while the model is cringing, you'd get a better match).

The base is a single layer of something thin and stretchy. In the case of the final version, a lycra knit. The flat fold goes in the back, the seam goes over the top of the head. 

The sidewalls are cut with the fold in the front, here in a rubbery windstopper fleece.

 Pin' em on, the back seam edges butt each other, not overlapping (trying to eliminate as much bulk as possible).

Because the black part doesn't need to stretch that much, it can be less stretchy. It's the top part that does the stretch work. I did a simple 1/16th zig zag stitch for all of it. 

The pattern I have up at Craftsy could be made smaller just by copying the pattern piece at a percentage. A 23 " head to start,  at 95% would be 21.85".  Or just shave off what you don't need (pencil first!)(or just copy it again).

Because the bottom edge does not need to stretch, I've been toying with some trim options. And a sweater that had an ugly felt accident yesterday.


Friday, December 20, 2013

More tools from the tool shed

Just a quick mention of a fine tool in the shed.

I use this sports bottle to refill my iron's water supply.

If I keep it about half full, I can squirt it into the water opening, and not give my ironing board a bath. I have been remarkably consistent about keeping filtered water in it, and no one wanders off with it. Which is a double win for me.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013


This very long, photo heavy post is about matching plaids. Specifically, welts for pockets on a plaid vest front.

It's pretty swifty, but it's just a lot of plaidness.
Two sewing lines for single welt. Reinforced.

I interfaced the back. Which is good, or I would never have been able to mark these. All four of them.

Match plaid

Stick pin through bottom corner

Make sure plaid matches at bottom corner

Stick pin through from back to front to find other end of seam. Fiddle around to get plaid to match and pin it down in front.

Now, very carefully, fold the top portion down. Pin welty fab onto front. Check repeatedly.


Flip over and sew bottom line


Reinforce (iron on stabilizer, go!)

Iron and trim to reasonable size

Stitch in middle, sorta middle

Check pocket direction and location

Secure pocket!

Stitch top seam and clip.

When you clip the ends, leave the angled triangly part as long as possible.

Pull the pocket through to back

Clip ends, not too short

Here's the fun part. I grab my long pointy reverse action tweezers and poke them through that gap at the end, between the fabric and the lining. And I pull and work that end of the welt through to the back side

And there it is. Give em a tug to tidy up.

From the front.

Ironing it out, from the back.

Fold it over and press.

Eh, not perfect

Sew up the sides and bottom.

Top stitch the ends (in the ditch)

The more I do, the better they get. Which I suspect means I should have done about ten practice ones before the real ones.

The lining is getting a self lipped welt. Place fabric, pin, sew two lines

Open wide! Snack break!

Pull bottom up to make flapness

Iron flapness!

Flip over, admire!

Didn't place pocket quite right, so I sew the end edges together

I iron them and it looks actually nicer this way.

Top stitch in the ditch

There is a pocket. A nice one from this side.

What is fun about this is that from the wrong side, it's all long threads and a mess.

The collar and facings, well, no one will know what a hot mess that was.

So I have finished and lined fronts, and  I need to sew them to the back lining/s.

 And I'm lazy. 

So, I sewed the backs to the front like a sandwich. Lining, fronts, lining (hold the mayo).
Across the shoulders, around the arm holes 
 (was that loud enough for you?) 

and the bottom seam. Together

Ya pull the fronts out from the side (pick one), sew the side seam (outside), press side seams to front, pin like a picket fence, and stitch the finishing side seam in the ditch.
And it's done.
Okay, it needs buttons and stuff, and that lapel needs a whole lot of pressing and tacking to hold, BUT

It's the slooooowest job in the world, and then the finish is WHOOSH!

My son comments: Quite nice. Much nicer than your usual. Is this a trend?
Level up?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Advance 4906 construction

And we have another green striped bias dress!
Too dark to see it properly, but the sections do line up to make a diamond. 
But back up a little: how did it go together?

To be honest, this stripe is not printed ongrain. It's off a little, so I matched by print. The fabric is an old bottom sheet I found at the thrift store. I had a vintage green striped dress I no longer fit that I loved and have been trying to recreate/make another one since then. This is attempt number three.

 I had to pick a point on the stripes that I could use as 'true north' to even attempt to get that diamond shape match on the front skirt and bodice pieces. The pin is at that point, the top edge of the center of the front skirt panel, the little narrow yellow stripe in between the dark green ones. I will use that little yellow stripe as reference for the other bias bodice pieces.

 From there, I swivel the pattern to get the grainline to line up on the stripes.
Pee Wee is always helping out!
 I cut the pieces out one by one.
 I laid the first panel on top to match at the edges; figuring that would hold reasonably true all the way across.

Lining up pretty well.

This just continues for the other pieces. Go get a coffee, I'll still be matching.

Then there's a lot of sewing. I mess up the zipper. The back neck is too high. The waist droops. I cut out the wrong sizes for the front/back and realize this AFTER I have made the pretty bias pockets, lined them and sewn them on. There's just hours of seam unpicking. Watching an entire season of Trigun on Netflix with my son. Beats starting over and matching all those stripes again.

This bears repeating: if you've gone to all the trouble of cutting out something, and it goes together wrong, it really is worth it to pick it apart and redo it. If you let it go and wear it, you'll always see the error, it will always fit badly. And you'll hate it.

So pull up a chair and get a seam ripper with a strong, tiny point.

But while you're sewing those panels, doublechecking the stripe match at the seam just involves pinning them together, and then folding over at points to see if it's matching up. Sometimes sticking a pin through the tiny stripe and pulling it through to the matching tiny stripe, then pinning it; that works for me. If it doesn't, you can often wiggle it into place. Bias is forgiving for that, it will take some compression. You can also slide it from side to side to goose it into place. If you didn't cut it out right, it won't work. That's why you are supposed to cut wide seam allowances for this sort of thing. Hey, dug my own hole there.

 I know, now we're at the hem. Which I BOUGHT bias tape for today, just one less thing to do. And the skinny poly stuff will take quite the heat beating.  I went for 1 1/4 hem turnover, stitched the bias trim to it, and ironed/steamed it into a nice, well-behaved curve. I ironed open the single fold strip to one side, sewed it on, and then folded and ironed it on the table while turning the hem (didn't iron after attaching, didn't want to stretch it out).

 Iron, slip cutting board strip under, pin.

Iron, pin, iron, pin; all the way around.

To drop the back neck, I undid the topstitching (facepalm), turned them open, and just cut one.

After I sewed the first one, I used the cut off part as a template for the second one.

I pinked a lot of things. I have a lot of vintage stuff that is just pinked and it's held pretty well. This is my tiny homage. That and a grosgrain ribbon in the interior waistband.

There's a gap between the back facing and the front neck facing.

So I made a bridge of batiste.

Machine stitched to the back facing.

Folded over

More ironing. So glad I bought that sleeve board last year, it's really good for tight spots.

Hand sewn in place. Repeated on other side.

And now we're done. Big button on tab foldover.

Button belt (hidden snap to hold it straight) as I don't have a belt buckle that works with this era.

This gives you a better idea of the real colors.

Bias tubing for belt loops at sides.

No matter what I do, the spot above the hook and loop closure always pulls away like that. I think it's my hamhanded hand sewing.

And that nifty pocket!

Would I make it again? Yes. I would cut the bodice a little shorter, take a little slack out of the front sleeve piece, and maybe put in a very light shoulder pad OR angle the shoulder seam down at the shoulder point.

And I will. Just maybe not in green again.