Thursday, October 6, 2011

Easy top

I sewed this top using the #106B pattern from BurdaStyle Magazine 6/2001. I can get here the Portuguese version, with a few months of delay. It's much cheaper to buy the magazine (R$ 10,90 = U$ 6,00) than get the patterns online at This top is available at the site, but only at version #106A and for U$ 5,40...
It's a very easy top to sew, though I had some problems to sew and finish the facings (novice problems...)...  The pattern claims for a linen fabric, and I used a linen cotton blended fabric that I got online at (a very nice shop, by the way). Here is the result:
By the magazine table of sizes, I'd be a 42 (bust measure), but the right size for me is 38. And it's still a bit loose.
I'll try to make it again, but with a less deep V neckline, this was was way too open for me...

It has a nice open hem at the sides.
I really liked the pattern as it's very easy and fast to sew. It also gives me space to alter the neckline and maybe the hem. I'm also thinking about making the sides a little curved, so I take in account my pear body shape and accent the waist.

Another pair of shorts

Using the same pattern made here I made new shorts, with a small red and white plaid cotton fabric. One of the differences from the last one was that I did not made flat felt seams, instead I finished the seams with a small zig zag stitch. And I cut only two pieces instead of four, i.e. I cut the front and back pieces together joined by what would be the side seam.

It was very fast to sew. I have to get more fabric later, because this is a piece I wear a lot. Here are some pictures:

Simple shorts, pattern made following the Perfect-Fit Sleep Shorts, from the One Yard Wonder book.  

Elastic wait band. Sew two stitch lines so the elastic won't roll.

Pocket on the back. It serves also to identify the back of the piece, as I don't use labels...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What are the chances...

...that your needle will hit the pin on the fabric while you sew? Almost zero? Well, remember almost zero is not zero. So this is what happened to one of the pins that were holding the two layers of fabric and which I didn't remove when it passed under the needle:

Mental note: remove all the pins when they are close to the machine foot. Don't think they will never be hit by the needle. As long as this may seam improbable, it may happen (and it may fly directly to your eye...)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Oops, I'll do it again...

That's it. I'll sew the Liz blouse again. This time with a non-expensive floral quilt cotton. Even if I didn't like my first try, I'll do it again to practice a little bit (specially the collar) and maybe use other techniques to finish the seams.
Here we go!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Finished Liz Blouse

I finished sewing the Liz Blouse some days ago. As I sew only a few hours a week, it may take too long to finish a project, especially if it's the first time I do it! After all, in a scale from 1 to 10, I'd give me a 7. I'm not very happy with the result. The fitting is not ok, I think I should have cut size 38 instead of 36 (my bust is 94cm and I'm a 40/42 according to Burda sizing chart, but it's way too big).

I also had some trouble with the collar. I had to make it 4 times! I didn't follow the pattern's instructions, instead I used the tips from another Burdastyle member with the help of a tutorial I found at Sew Mama Sew. But I was not happy with the results, maybe because my lack of experience. I was only a little satisfied after I followed the instructions to attach a collar band on the Shirtmaking book from David P. Coffin. I'm pretty sure after some practice I'll get a much better look for the collar.

Here are some pictures:
 The blouse ready just before I open the buttonholes.

Here is a close up in the collar. Not happy with it :(
My very first buttonholes, made with my Janome 2008 and its special foot.

I cut the center front parts at the bias. Not sure if this was a good idea...

This is a very sloppy finishing for the facing. Shame on me!

Button and buttonhole. I'll use a smaller stitch next time.
I regret I used an expensive fabric to make a blouse for the first time. It's also a little boring, I think. Maybe I'll sew this pattern again, in a bigger size and using this method to finish the facing.

I finished the princess and shoulder seams with a flat felted seam and the side seams with a French seam. The arm holes where hemmed as the instructions on the pattern, just folding the fabric twice.

It's an easy blouse to sew, of course you must deal with the collar, the buttonholes and the finishings, what may be a little difficult for novices like me. I think not having sleeves make it even easier.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sewing is not easy!

When I decided to get a sewing machine and learn how to sew by myself I didn't think it would be so difficult. The truth is that the only finished pieces I made and use are: my machine cover, a tote bag and 2 shorts. All the other attempts to make something failed.

I tried to draft a shirt pattern but it did not end well. The armholes where too small, the front and back of the shirt where too big. I think I did not take the correct body measurements. I also tried to begin this dress, but working with chiffon is like liking in hell. After so many disappointments I decided to leave the difficult fabrics and the patterns adjustments aside, and make something easy, with an easy-to-deal cotton fabric. 
I had fabric cotton already, but not a cheap one. Decided to use it anyway. I have to find inexpensive stuff so I can go and try things with less guilty, in case the project doesn't work.
So right now I'm making the Liz blouse. In the comments at Burdastyle site people say it's an easy project. I think I already made some bad choice, cutting the size 38. As the fabric I'm using have some stretch, I thought one size down would give a good fit, but now I guess it will be too tight. Let's see.

The pieces are cut and I sew together only the back parts.

To finish the princess seams I flat felted the seam allowances. The double stitch line is inside and outside you almost don't see the single stitch line:



I'm planning to finish this soon :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cool tutorials

An easy way to find those tutorial links I liked:

BrianSews - Hemming foot tutorial

How to Make a Collar with a Collar Stand
(Shows how to have a clear finish at the stand corners - I have to try this the next time)

TUTORIAL-- Clean-Finished No Bulk Facing
(I'll try this when I do the Liz blouse again!)

Neckline binding for knits

Finishing the top of a zip: “Fiskars Unzipped”

Invisible zipper
Shows how to attach to the sides and how to finish it.

More to come...

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Drafting a shirt pattern

 This is what's going on: I started to draft the button-down shirt pattern using the Design-it yourself: Clothes book. The directions are easy to follow, but I'll only be sure everything is fine after I make a muslin for this shirt. It's been fun, I have to say. If this works out, I'll be very very happy as it's an important step on my I-sew-my-own-clothes big project.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Plans for the future

I wish I have more time for sewing as I'm full of ideas for my next projects!

I better make a list so I don't get lost!
  • Make a button shirt pattern following the "Design-it yourself - Clothes" book. This seems a good way to know how patterns work. Also the blouse seem to be very simple to sew as there are no pieces to interface, no lining, no yoke, no darts. But this button-down shirt has a collar and sleeves cuffs. What do I need: fabric (probably an easy-to-handle cotton), buttons and thread.
  • Use the patterns for the blouse and pants that came with the "Sew-U" book. I would need fabric for both. It would be a good opportunity to work with patterns that came on that thin paper. 
  • Make the Ellen #9305 pants from I already have the pattern printed, the fabric, interfacing, buttons and zipper. But I'm afraid to make my first pants with an expensive linen... Maybe I should get a cheap fabric to test? Let's see.
  • Sew the DrapĂ© dress from to use at an evening party in September. This will be a real challenge. The plans are to make the dress first with a test fabric and then, if everything goes fine, get a nice fancy chiffon to make the dress special for the night. I have the pattern printed. And I've seen around that chiffon is a difficult fabric to handle. Let's see how it goes.
  • Sew the JJ blouse from burdastyle. It's an adorable blouse, exactly like the ones I use to work. I have the pattern (not printed) and would need to get fabric too.
Long story short: I need to get pieces of fabric right now! Better make a small list before.
  1. Cotton for 2 blouses + buttons
  2. A fabric that drapes nicely but it's not expensive for the test dress + lining + invisible zipper
  3. Cotton for one pair of pants + zipper
Other plans are:
  • Sew one man's shirt (long or short sleeves?). What pattern?
  • Resize one old big pair of jeans (I'm just waiting for the topstitch threads I order to arrive)
So I'll add to my list:

     4.  Cotton for a man's shirt + buttons

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New shorts

I have a new finished project, the Perfect-Fit Sleep Shorts, from the One Yard Wonder book:

The initial idea was to make then with this purple polka dot fabric, but soon I realized it wasn't enough. So I used a plain and also purple quilt cotton, and this was the result (still missing to finish the waistband):

I had done this project before, but not with all the care I had this time. I decided to make flat felt seams on side, front, back and between legs seams. And I also used a white thread to have a contrast, and have a better feeling on how good I was making the topstitching.

I did not followed the steps on the book, because I wanted to flat felt seam everything. So I sewed the front parts together, then the back parts. I then sewed the front and back by the side seams and to finish, I made the bottom seam. I also added a side pocket and a large elastic band. To avoid the elastic to twist around, I topstitched three lines in the waist band.

And now my fail moments. I think simple projects like that may help us improve our sewing skills without much concern if we will ruin the whole thing or not.

1) I did not realized the fabric was not good quality when I was cutting the patterns, and some bad parts ended up in the shorts :(

2) I cut the fabric while cutting one of the seam allowances to make the flat felted seam LOL

3) I should have folded the front and back flat felted seams to the same side so they would match in the bottom, what didn't happen! I will always remember that detail now, especially if I make pants!

And you can also see the bobbin run out of threat when I was finishing the hem LOL
This was fun and easy to make and I got much confidence now. I can wear these shorts at home all year long (it's always summer here), I'm happy I could sew something for myself. Now I have many other projects in mind, let's see how I can organize my time to make them all :)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Machine feet series: the ruffler foot

What do you do when you know nothing about a subject? I ask Google.

Google has been my friend for many years and helped me a lot on my everyday life. Of course you must know how to deal with it, there is so much garbage information on the web and you must sift the wheat from the chaff (BTW, how this expression was written in English I leaned now: Google has been my dictionary too).

Looking for info about the ruffler foot I found a lot of interesting things. The last one was picked up from a comment on and it's a very complete material on how to use the ruffler - and it's free! Here is the link, you just have to sign in to download this document:

FREE! The "Ruffler"...Unruffled!!

When I first tested this foot I thought it would never work. It's a little more complicated then the other feet, but not a monster as it seems. I won't talk much about this foot as the pdf above can tell you pretty much everything about it.

I haven't done anything with it yet besides testing it with a few fabric scraps and have no plans so far, but it seems to be a nice tool for you machine. I didn't even wanted to buy it in first place, but it came with the Distinctive set and it turned out that it was a good foot to have.

It ruffles your fabric in different depths and you can also attach a ruffler to a plain fabric. There are also helpful videos on Youtube (another teacher of mine), just search for "ruffler foot". This one shows how to attach the ruffler to another piece of fabric:

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Machine feet series: the rolled hem foot

Today I was adjusting the length of a shirt and finally had the chance to use the rolled hem feet I got for my Janome 2008. I got them in 3 sizes: the Distinctive Narrow Rolled Hem Sewing Machine Presser Foot  and the Janome Sewing Machine Hemmer Set 4mm/6mm.

Here is how the rolled hem turned out in this fraying fabric:
It was pretty good outside, but a mess inside. I guess mostly because the fabric frays a lot and also because I had to use the smaller rolled hem feet - the Distinctive one. Why?

Just after I got all the feet I bought I realized the Janome hemmers didn't fit the 2008 machine model :( How depressing is that? The shank of my machine snaps on exactly in the middle of the foot, as you can see in the standard machine foot below:

But this little metal stick where the shank snaps on (or it would be "is snapped on"?) in the Janome hemmers are a little to the left. This causes the needle to be in the wrong place and so these feet are useless...

This is what happens: my needle will be just at the end of the red line above (exactly in the middle of the metal stick). But it should be at the end of the blue line to work. This happens because, if you notice well, the horizontal metal stick is a little to the left and not in the center part of the foot, as in the standard foot picture above.

To make things clear, look at the Distinctive rolled hem foot to see how centered is the metal stick, and how the red line meets the blue line at the ends, exactly where the needle goes:

Here are pictures of the feet in the machine:

I'd be happy to find an adapter for these feet as I think these rolled hem feet are very useful.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Upgrading my machine

In a moment of consumerism and with the thought that I had spent nothing on my machine in mind (just to make things worst), I ordered these sewing machine feet:

As they did not ship to Brasil, I had the order shipped to a hotel where a relative was on vacation. So they came to me into her luggage :) Now I have a nice collection of sewing machine feet. I haven't tested them all, but I already know the Janome Hemmer feet is not proper for my Janome 2008, which made me kind of angry :(

I'll make future posts telling a bit about all the feet I have now - that my machine has now, I've got only 2 as usual :P

The box where all the Distinctive feet came is now holding my feet collection.

Here we are!

And here are the feet I plan to talk about later (some of them I already had):

Adjustable zipper foot

Tape binding foot
Welting foot Hemming feet
Zipper foot Ruffler
Roller and Non-stick feet Concealed Zipper Foot
Gathering Foot
Button hole foot

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The book is on the table...

They all are! Finally the books I ordered at arrived! I haven't used the new ones in any project yet, but I had fun reading them.

I have to say although the internet is full of free tutorials and instructions, I love to have books near me.

My plans are first to finish the dress 1 I began a while ago. Then maybe I'll try a patterns that comes in the Sew U book. The easiest seems to be the skirt, but I don't wear skirts, so I'm thinking of skipping this step and try a shirt instead.

Lately I haven't spent much time with my sewing machine. The only thing I did was to adjust some new clothes I bought (I still have to adjust other ones). Even if I'm still buying my clothes at a store, it was so fun to think "this one I can take, I only need to shorten here and there". I felt free, in a way. It was good not to depend on any one to adjust my clothes or give up a piece because it was not perfectly fitting.

Oh, and there is another new: I got a lot of feet for my machine, hehehehe. I'll show them later.