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How to Underline Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat

Underlining a coat like this has two major perks: It gives you the chance to really spice it up as your underlining and bias taping will be visible. It also opens up the fabric options you have for the outer fabric as you can hide ugly or scratchy wrong-sides or add weight to a not-quite bulky enough fabric. I think the underlining on my Sewaholic’s Robson Trench Coat is the best part and I wanted to share what I did to make it easy for you too to underline your own trench. Most of what you’ll be doing is the same as the instructions included with the pattern, so I will just be highlighting what to do differently. The major difference is that you will be finishing the edges of your pieces before sewing the coat together instead of as you go. This means that you don’t have to constantly re-thread …

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Sparkly Underlined Sewaholic Robson Trench

I’m a bit of a coat junkie, but I rarely actually follow through on my coat cravings because I commute by scooter, so every day I wear my motorcycle jacket. When I saw the Sewaholic Robson Trench Coat pattern, there was no question, I had to buy it and make myself a trench coat. And I happened to have the all the needed fabric, underlining, and bias tape in my stash! I don’t know anything about this fabric other than I bought it on sale quite a while ago, it’s a navy blue of something synthetic that sloughs water, and it has silver paint dots all over it. It has almost no drape which gives great structure for the collar. However, it wasn’t easy to work with the painted fabric. I put together a post of hints for working with heavily embellished fabrics based on my experiences with this fabric. Because …

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7 Tips for Sewing with Novelty Fabrics: Metallic, Painted, and Heavily Embroidered

Novelty fabrics like painted, metallic, or heavily embroidered fabric can add great pizzaz to your sewing projects, but they can be quite challenging to work with. I’m currently working on a coat with the painted fabric whose scraps I used for my Radial Purse. Here, I’ve assembled a few hints for working with these fabrics to help you make your perfect final product. 1) Change your needle often during your project. Sewing through novelty fabrics can rapidly dull your needle and dull needles can cause a variety of problems from skipped stitches to snagged fabric. 2) Test wash your fabric. Since the embellishments can have different washing needs than the fabric, set aside several different scraps and run them through different wash treatments to ensure that both fabric and embellishment can withstand the wash settings. 3) Use a press cloth when ironing. Some people swear by silk organza press cloths, …

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Giant Leather Snail Stuffed Animal

I sewed a giant stuffed leather snail. Why? I got a harebrained idea and of course I had to follow up on it.  Not too long ago I saw that Nette had sewn a leather pug and I thought that making a giant leather stuffed animal was a great idea. The Shelly the Snail pattern is by Abby Glassenberg, a stuffed animal designer and blogger who I have long followed for her blog posts about running a small craft business.

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Pink Linen Trousers with Pintuck

I made these trousers using Simplicity 3688, the 1940’s reproduction pattern, out of pink 100% linen. I’ve previously made them in khaki. The pattern is so simple and easy, there’s really not much to say. I made these for the sole purpose of coordinating with my pink brocade peplum top so I could have a new outfit for a weekend in Vegas. However, for anyone that’s been following my Me Made May progress on Flickr (or read my summary post from the first half of the month), you’ll notice that I’ve worn these several times already this month. And I’m likely to continue wearing them as they are comfortable, easy to coordinate, a good weight for this time of year, and pink.

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My Favorite Skirt – How to Make a Long Skirt from Recycled Jeans

This really is my favorite skirt. I’ve been wearing it just about weekly for 7 years? 8 years? I had an amazing time teaching people at Maker Faire how to make this skirt. The shape is flattering on all body types (Seriously. I have yet to see a gal that doesn’t look fabulous in this skirt) and allows for great ease of movement. (Seriously. I ride my bike and climb trees in this skirt). Added bonus – I  met my boyfriend husband while wearing this skirt! The basic idea behind this skirt is that we are opening up a pair of pants and setting in four triangles of fabric into the openings. You Need: 2 pairs of recycled jeans. 1 needs to fit you at the waist. Scissors Sewing Machine Thread We start with the first pair of pants. These needs to fit you at the waist. Cut off the entire …

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Radial Purse Template and Instructions

Plastic canvas is a pretty fun material to have on hand. It’s excellent for craft projects but also makes a great backbone for sewn projects needing structure – including the radial purse I put together as a part of the Plastic Canvas Blog Hop hosted by Diane of CraftyPod. When you think of plastic canvas purses (if you ever think of plastic canvas purses) you probably think of cheap acrylic yarn in olive green and mustard yellow needlepointed onto a purse by your grandmother in the 1970’s. While there’s nothing wrong with those purses (I proudly carry one myself!), plastic canvas purses can be so much more! My Radial Purse uses a quilting technique to get the fun radials and requires beginner sewing skills. Supplies: Download Radial Purse Template (Print without scaling.) Fabric (Works for many fabric types. Amount varies based on your design decisions.) Snap or velco (optional) Interfacing or …

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5 Tips for Sewing Piping to Neckline

As I show-off in my Pink Brocade Peplum top, piping can be a really fun way to spice up a neckline. It can add an extra bit of polish or help bring out a contrast color. You can find a great variety of colors and sizes of pipings in the upholstery section of your fabric store. Here I have an selection of tips for how to get the perfect piping insertion! 1. Pink the raw edge of your piping. Upholstery piping often comes on a very wide tape. You don’t need all of the width to get a stable insertion and you don’t want that extra fabric stiffening up your neckline. While you can use standard shears, I recommend trimming it with your pinking shears because it makes the edge of the piping tape less likely to show through as a crease on the right side of your fabric. 2. …

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Pink Brocade Peplum Top

This weekend Adam and I went to Vegas. I had dreams of a cute little cocktail dress out of this beautiful pink brocade that I had in my stash. I pictured something tight, short, sexy, and, well, Vegas. And this is what I ended up with. A fairly modest, slightly peplum top with a belt and bow and vintage flair. Oh well. I made the pants to go with it, but I think I may need to make a little pencil skirt instead to make the ensemble a little sexier. I started out by making the skanky dress I had in my head. It was mostly self-drafted, but took cues from Gertie’s Wiggle Dress (which I have previously made to great success). But when I put it on, it looked horrible. Even Adam, who will only ever say nice things about how I look, couldn’t find anything nice to say. …

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5 Tips for Using a Bias Binding Foot

I have an assortment of specialty sewing machine feet, most of them given to me by my mom (thanks, ma!). I’ve been working on a project that has involved a LOT of bias tape. So, I’ve been using my bias binding foot. If you have a foot yourself (or plan on getting one, or are just curious to know a little more), I’ve put together a list of tricks that I figured out while sewing with this foot. 1. Use a seam ripper to help you thread the tape into the machine. The first step is to thread your bias tape into the bias tape foot. I found this quite frustrating initially as I couldn’t get it through the other end enough to get a grip on it. So, I turned to my seam ripper. When I got the tape close to the end of the feeder I stabbed the seam …

Grainline Archer Shirt-Dress

Another Monday, another Archer. I sewed this out of a heavy rayon challis in forest green that was a gift and in my stash. The fact that it looks a whole lot like the shirt on the pattern envelope was something that escaped me until writing up this blog post. I decided to add 9″ to the pattern so that it could be a dress. The challis was a dream to sew with. I immediately want to go buy a bunch more, just so I have a fully stocked stash (ha! right! like I need anything more in my stash!). I sewed view B of the Archer by Grainline Studio, with the gathered lower back. This shirt-dress is so amazingly comfortable. I want to live in it! The only problem? Without a belt, I think it looks like I’m wearing a nightgown. So please, dear reader, tell me truthfully and …

My Me-Made-May 2013 Pledge

 I, Seamstress Erin of SeamstressErin.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavour to wear a handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2013 I’ve been admiring other bloggers doing Me Made May for a couple of years now and I’m excited to take part myself this year! (Not familiar with MMM? Read Zoe’s explanation.) If you want to follow along closely, I’ll be posting a photo every day on Flickr and taking part in conversations on twitter with #MMMay13. I’ll blog a few summaries during the month, and I’m sure I’ll have some concluding thoughts at the end!

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Clean Your Sewing Machine with a Pipe Cleaner

Seriously. The title says it all. Clean your sewing machine with a pipe cleaner. It’s the best way that I have found to get lint out of a bobbin case. I give my bobbin case a quick swipe with my pipe cleaner every time I change the bobbin. Doesn’t take but a moment and it really gets the lint out! I’m serious you guys, go try it, and quit looking at me like I’m crazy! I mean, I know I might be crazy, but this pipe-cleaner-bobbin-case-thing isn’t an example of that!

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Archer Blouse from Bangladeshi Fabric

I’ve made button front blouses with collars and placketed sleeves before but never this well. This blouse is perfection. Seriously. I set myself the goal of sewing perfect things in 2013 and this makes it high on the list. I’m in love. (My new blouse is shown here with my curtain panel skirt.) The pattern is Archer by Grainline Studio. While not typically a fan of oversized blouses for myself, I just had this feeling in my gut that this blouse needed to be made, and I was right. I like it both tucked in as well as draping open. As I was sewing it, I had fears that it would look a little too 90’s (flashback to Fresh Prince of Bel Air), but I think it errs on the side of elegant-hippy-chic and that’s fine by me. I cut the blouse out of a lightweight woven cotton that my …

How to Draft and Sew a Sleeve Facing

Have I mentioned yet that I’m in love with my Mad Men Joan dress? So much so that I wrote a tutorial for drafting sleeve flounces so I can spread the love. The only problem with inserting these pretty arm flounces onto a dress sleeve is that when the flounce flops around, as it looks so beautiful doing, you are liable to catch a big ol’ glimpse of the seam where you sewed the flounce onto the sleeve, and that’s not as beautiful. So, sleeve facings to the rescue!

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How to Draft Sleeve Flounces

For my Mad Men inspired dress, I simply had to have flounces on the sleeves, which I drafted myself and added to a commercial pattern. I’ve written a tutorial so you can do the same!

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Mad Men Joan Dress

I’ve made my Mad Men Challenge Dress. Phew. I used Gertie’s Wiggle Dress as the pattern with only minor fit changes (changed the hip shape and added 1/2 inch to the front at the shoulder). The pattern uses dolman sleeves with an armpit gusset for fit. I didn’t get the shoulders fit perfectly as mine are much stronger than the pattern intends, but I’ve got some ideas about how to make the fit perfect next time.

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1942 Hollywood Patterns Shirtwaist Dress

I now present to you my 1940’s dress for Sew for Victory. It’s from Hollywood Patterns (No. 855), from May 1942, endorsed by Betty Grable of 20th Century Fox. Honestly, I’m not that enamored with this dress. I was talked into the fabric, a quilting cotton, by a woman at the fabric store but I really should have stuck to my guns and gone to another store to find a nice rayon. When I first envisioned this dress, I wanted it to be something I could wear to seduce Sam Spade. I feel like it ends up making me look like I should be out back mucking out a chicken coop. I settled on working for the war effort as a compromise.

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Ziggy Stardust Inspired Outfit

When I heard about Tempest’s Bowie Sew Along I immediately knew that I had to do something inspired by Ziggy Stardust for it is the best album ever made. Period. Of course I had a billion other ideas inspired by all sorts of other incarnations of David Bowie (including plenty inspired by The Labyrinth, for David Bowie in that movie is my definition of sex god, but I’ll save that discussion for another time), but I had to pick one for now . (If you want to get inspired, and you really should, go check out Tempest’s Bowie Sew Along Inspiration Board). I ended up making my take on a knit one-arm one-leg jumper that Bowie wore during the Ziggy Stardust tour. I made a one-arm t-shirt from my own pattern using stripes of three different fabrics. For the skirt, I folded over a piece of the red fabric for …

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March Sewalongs 2013

I may have bitten off more than I can chew for this month. But there are so many fun sewalongs that I simply can’t say no!  For the stashbusting sewalong, I’ve already made a skirt that would qualify for this month’s theme of impending seasonal change. However, when I first saw the theme, I thought immediately thought of making a hoodie tunic with kangaroo pocket out of pink and grey plaid from my stash. So, I’m not going to let myself get out of using it up! I am head-over-heels in love with Tempest’s David Bowie sew-along. I could wax poetic about how I’ve been in love with him my whole life, but I’ll save that for another time. In the meantime I will say that it inspired way too many ideas on my part, but as I’ve already got a lot on my plate, I’m keeping it down to …

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Cake’s Tiramisu Dress

I think Cake’s Tiramisu dress pattern is great. It’s a wonderful blend of fun and flirty and functional. The construction instructions are clear and the sizing allows for fit on many different bodies. Unfortunately, I just don’t like how it looks on my body. I had misgivings when planning the dress but I so badly wanted it to be cute on me like it is on so many women that I went ahead and sewed it. I finished the dress and, just as I thought, it looks good on every body type but pear, and I happen to be a pear. Oh well.

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Pink Pleated Maxi Skirt

This pink pleated maxi skirt was a quick-and-simple project that wasn’t actually all that quick to sew up. But I’m happy with the time spent on it as I think it will be a wardrobe staple. Ok, so I admit that sheer striped pepto-bismol-pink maxi skirts aren’t wardrobe staples for everyone. But it will be for me!

Apple Bottom Skirt

I found this fabric recently on super-sale and couldn’t pass it up. I know that it’s probably better suited for a jumper for a 6-year-old, but I don’t care. And since it’s kitschy, I had to make it scream kitsch. So I took the fuschia skinny-wale corduroy with green apple print and added green corduroy accents to the hem, pockets, and belt loops. Oh yeah, and I added gigantic apple pockets to the bottom.

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Roses on Black Shirtwaist Dress

I made this vintage-style shirtwaist dress form Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. Like my bow-neck blouse from the same book (and made from the same stashed cotton-rayon blend fabric, incidentally), I thought I didn’t like it as I was finishing it up. However, I find myself having worn the dress several times already, so, fortunately, my initial opinion has been proven wrong!

Yellow Twill Skirt

This is a wearable muslin for a pattern I drafted for a trouser skirt. I know that “wearable muslin” is a contentious term, but that’s exactly what this is and I think it serves a purpose. Since I drafted the pattern myself, I need to wear it around for a bit to see how the fit works with use. I know it works if I’m standing still in front of the mirror, but I want to know about fit while sitting, riding my scooter, walking around.

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Red Scalloped High Waist Pencil Skirt

I added scallops to the pattern I made from Gertie’s New Book to make a red pencil skirt, just in time for Valentine’s Day. (Yes, I just posted this picture a few days ago, but that was about the blouse and this is about the skirt, so you get to see it again!) While I’m always drawn to patterns, I think that a solid colored pencil skirt (or a few!) will be a nice addition to my wardrobe as I can easily pair patterned tops with a solid bottom. And the scallops give it a bit of personality that it might otherwise lack.

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Bow Neck Blouse

I made the bow neck blouse from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. I was frustrated and disappointed by the time I finished the blouse. But now that I’ve worn it a couple of times, I wish I could take back those emotions, because I disagree now. I really like the blouse! The fabric is a cotton-rayon blend (I’m guessing) and a gift from a friend.

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Sew Grateful For Mom Blouse

 My sew grateful project is for my mom. Who better to show my appreciation than the woman who sewed my clothes as a kid, let me raid her fabric stash when I decided I wanted to start sewing as a tween, and taught me how to read a pattern and do things right when I finally had the patience to ask for help as a teenager.

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Sweaters Blanket Tutorial

For Sew Grateful week I want to re-share a tutorial I put together a couple of months ago for a blanket made out of sweaters. I’ve made it for my home and for several important people in my life. It’s simple to sew, fun and appropriate for all levels of sewers. It’s also easy to really give it your own aesthetic based on your choice of old sweaters. If you make up the blanket, let me know!

Block of the Month Quilt

My mom and decided to do a long-distance project together. Since she’s always trying to get me into quilting, we chose to each piece Craftsy’s 2012 Block of the Month quilt, offered as a free video class. Yes, they have a 2013 quilt class too, but neither I nor my mom like the quilt as much. And, the 2012 quilt has an adjoining quilting class that teaches you how to longarm quilt using the 2012 block of the month quilt. I have to get the entire top pieced first and my mom and I are doing it month-by-month even though all the months are published, so don’t hold your breath waiting to see my first attempt at longarm quilting!