You’re having a fun time sewing a seriously cute t-shirt or pullover – the pattern’s instructions are easy to follow, the fabric and stitches are working well together, the birds are chirping, everything is going well…until you get to the neckband. You look at the instructions on cutting the neckband and it’s not making any sense to you. You frantically turn to Google for help and type in “neckband length” and a plethora of formulas show up, but which one? More frustration!
Has this scenario ever happened to you? I remember when I started sewing simple t-shirts, the neckband was where I would spend the longest time doing because I was seam ripping over and over again. I had either cut the neckband too long so that it looked like a mandarin collar or too short that the neckline looked gathered. I’ve tried many different techniques since design school and this is the one that had stuck with me. It’s taken the guess work out of how the neckband will look once sewn in so it’s saved me time and sanity and hopefully this technique will save yours as well.
This dress has got to be the most fun, hilarious, Ciderella-like, dress I’ve ever made! The drafting, sewing, and even the gown itself was pretty “standard” but the moment I tried it on, Madeline was totally awestruck by it and immediately demanded that I take off the dress and give it to her! Since I wasn’t fast enough to undress, she started yanking the dress off of me. Talk about toddler tantrum! It just reminded of that scene from Cinderella when the stepsisters tore her dress apart before they left for the ball. Yikes! I was able to take a video of the Drama Queen but if it wasn’t for my chaotic and embarrassing room, I would totally share it with you for a good laugh.
I don’t have any special events coming up – I really just made this dress for therapeutic purposes only. To put it on and twirl around in front of the mirror a bit to forget, even for a few minutes, about the arthritis-induced sinusitis and low grade fever. My PCM had given me Flonase to try before I’m sent to ENT so my face has been feeling like I got a big, heavy brick placed on it. I even told my friend the other day that it hurts to make a facial expression so I have this constant RBF, or resting bitch face, going on. I try to see the humor in everything. My rheumatologist told me to stay off Methotrexate until the sinusitis is taken care of and asked if I was on Xeljanz. Ok, so I’m pretty iffy about Xeljanz. If you are taking or have taken Xeljanz, please share your thoughts and experience! I’ve heard so many good and bad things about it.
So for this therapeutic project, I chose to use this red lace tulle which has been sitting in my closet for the past two years. My mother had brought with her a stack of colorful lace fabrics from Myanmar and since this was the longest fabric of the bunch I decided to make a gown based off of my little black Christmas party dress which was based off my denim dress I made last summer. That’s the thing I love about basic patterns – you can modify them anyway you want as long as it’s got the perfect fit. I also jumped on the fashion bandwagon and made the underskirt super shorter which is a trend I’ve been seeing. Just type in “lace gowns” on Google and you’ll pretty much see a lot of that style. I’ve included lots of photos of my sewing process and I hope you’ll find the steps clear and helpful!
Singer is one of the brands I trust and use when it comes to sewing supplies so I wanted to do my first giveaway with something I enjoy using. I don’t know about you but I get my needles mixed up all the time so I love that these are color coded so I can easily tell which one to use before I start my project and before I start messing up my stitches and I’m pulling my hair out! The orange is for lightweight fabrics, the blue is for medium weight, and the purple is for heavyweight. How simple is that!
The winner will be chosen from the comments between 1/23 ~ 1/29 so let’s hear from you! Be sure to put in the correct email so I can connect if you win. Good luck! 🙂
*Congrats Ashley! Be sure to check your email. 🙂
**Please be sure to mark Zune@zunessewingtherapy.com as a safe sender. I will keep going down the list until a winner claims the prize.
***Giveaway is now closed. The winner was randomly selected. Thanks to all who entered my first giveaway. More to come!
Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a fantastic New Year – I spent mine with Netflix! I was just so excited over the fact that they had added all the Indiana Jones movies plus The Addams Family and both of the Ghostbusters movies! Some of my “white noise” movie choices. Lol. Yep, that’s what I listen to while I’m drafting patterns or sewing. Speaking of patterns and New Year, I’d like to present my first pattern of the year, the ABC sweater.
I also want to add that starting with this pattern, I won’t be adding any seam allowances to my patterns anymore. The reason being that I usually end up changing the seam allowances around based on the fabric, the design, or the machine I’m using and also everyone has different amount of seam allowance that they like so now you can add whatever seam allowance that you want. Yay!
I’m also sewing this entire sweater using my home sewing machine, the JanomeHD1000. I love my Janome to pieces! If you have a serger, go ahead and use that but with this tutorial I wanted to focus a bit on how easy it is sewing fleece on a regular sewing machine. Some home sewing machines have built-in overcast stitches which can look confusing because they don’t look anything like the stitches made by a serger but they will essentially do the same thing which is to have the stitches stretch with the fabric and to keep the edges from fraying. My Janome doesn’t have many fancy decorative stitches, to me it’s more like a basic workhorse which is definitely fine by me. After looking at the manual, I decided to use the knit stitch – according to the manual, it’s ideal for sewing swimwear and stretch velour because it gives the most amount of elasticity and strength. I also used the straight stretch stitch for the top stitching. I’ve never really used the knit stitch on my machine before so this project was a nice chance to try out something new out.
If you haven’t explored all the stitches on your sewing machine, take a minute before you start this tutorial and try them out – do some tests on the same material you will be using because each fabric has a mind of its own! Alright, let’s get to making the sweater.
As much as I’d like to hibernate on the couch under layers of blanket with with a steaming cup of coffee watching old movies all season until the trees start budding, there are just too many exciting things like Thanksgiving parades and Christmas lights in the park with nostalgic hayrides going on outside. Oklahoma’s wind can be bitingly cold so I like to keep my little ones bundled up and fleece-lined pants are a perfect part of their winter wardrobe that keep little legs all nice and warm when they are out and about.
I used the same pattern as the flannel pants *here*. The only thing I would change when cutting from that pattern would be to add a inch or two to the crotch depending on the fabrics you are using. I used a sweater knit fabric for the outside of the pants and blizzard fleece for the inside and doubling two thick fabrics can shorten the crotch. For the waistband, I used the Sew Classic knit fabric. I’ve also included two ways to sew the elastic waistband – the casing method and another with the elastic sewn directly onto the waistband.
Busy making sweaters, pants, and hats out of fleece? Is your mound of fabric scraps getting higher and higher? Wait, don’t throw your fleece scraps away! You can make all sorts of beautiful flowers out of the fleece scraps and use them to embellish your clothes, hats, and more!
This is a really simple and quick tutorial on how to make flowers from fleece scraps. This template took me less than 10 minutes to make – I made the petals in 4 sizes and also included different sized circles to cover the center but you can also use buttons, pearls, or even rhinestones if you want some bling!
Before we get to the tute – I know fleece and flowers have really nothing to do with J.R.R. Tolkien but here’s a very quick take on MY version of my favorite Tolkien poem, “From the ashes a fire shall be woken,…”
From the pile of scraps beautiful things shall be made…hehe
The holidays are coming up and with that come festivities and lots of picture-taking! This simple and cute necktie is perfect for dressing up your darling little boy for special turkey dinners and family photos.
Last year, I got an idea to make a patriotic tie when I made Logan’s adjustable bow tie *here* and coincidentally his school’s fall music concert this year required him to wear red, white, and blue. So here it is!
There are two separate pieces: the neck strap and the neck tie. The neck strap is adjustable with Velcro and the tie itself is 2 1/2” wide and 28” long. I’m back on Methorexate and going through a flare up so pulling the tie and the strap right side out with a safety-pin was pretty painful so I’ve included some other Arthritis-friendly ways to construct the tie. Ok, let’s get to it.
I’m really glad to say that I finished Logan’s costume in time! Whew. I said before that hopefully I’ll be better prepared next year and then I cut it so close every time. I swear I don’t procrastinate! But I think I’ll also add “no presumptions” to next year’s resolution. You see, last fall was inexplicably cold and windy – the kind of cold that makes you uncontrollably hop on one leg and garble through chattering teeth. You might think, hey it’s only Oklahoma, but I confess we are warm weather people and unless there was a really awesome, can’t miss event going on outside, we would rather hibernate in the living room by the fireplace. So as part of my last year’s resolution, I decided to make the costumes this Halloween in fleece. Madeline’s Lolita dress was made in cotton but I had made matching white fleece pants and sweater (which had double layers on the torso) to wear under her dress. Luckily for her though, I was able to replace the sweaters with thinner stockings. I swear I kept checking the weather – every time it would say something different so I decided it’s better safe than sorry and went ahead with the fleece. Logan’s costume, however, was all fleece. I used fabric glue to attach the gold ribbon on the front of the jacket and also near the sleeve hems. The gold ribbon also went along the shoulder seams – he said he wanted the tassel to be chunky? So I ended up using the ends of the gold ribbons on the shoulder and then added an extra one each side to make the tassel look rounded on the shoulders.
The high-waisted white fleece breeches have an elastic back and are flat in the front to create a neater look. The faux boots are also made of fleece and are sewn onto the hem of the breeches – a few years back, I made the boots separately and they kept sliding down because of the movement so he requested these be sewn directly onto the pants – great idea, Logan! The faux boots were cut shorter in the front to avoid bunching at the ankles and longer in the back to help blend into his black sneakers.
The hat was constructed from felt and I only needed about a yard of it. I used Logan’s sunhat pattern and the only change I made was widening the brim and then I turned it up to create a triangular shape from above and sewed them in place. He said it kind of looked like a pirate’s hat so I guess I’ll have a pattern ready if I ever had to make a pirate costume. Yes, a 2 in 1!
All the fall/Halloween festivities were on Saturday and we ended up catching three of the events. Poor Logan was sweltering in the 70 degrees weather in the afternoon but it later cooled down in the evening by the time we got to the last event so he was comfortable by then. It’s two day later, I’m sitting here writing this and it’s 81 degrees! Let’s see how fickle this weather is on actual Halloween day…
*Update: It really was a freaky Halloween! Warm weather everyday and then boom! It was the kind of cold that makes you hop uncontrollably on on one leg. The kids in their fleece costumes were warm and toasty and trick or treated so comfortably like it was on a fair, sunny day in June.
I didn’t do so well though. My head was so cold and my ears aching even with my hat pull down low. I love this hat I got from Forever21 a few years back – pink, sparkly and it sits so prettily on my head but for the purpose it’s supposed to serve, it failed miserably in keeping my noggin warm. You know how the presence of a problem shuffles your priorities around – well, I’ve been talking about doing a fleece hat with ear flaps since the near end of summer just so that I could make them and be prepared (here I go with being prepared again *sigh) but other things kept creeping up the to the top of the do list. That horrible ear ache got on my behind so here it is… The adult fleece hat with earflaps.
It’s based off of Madeline’s hat that I made her last year *here*. I did make some small changes like widening the back and front as well as rounding it more to show the face. I also slimmed out the ear flap and reshaped the crown so that it’s rounded on the top of the head. However, I made a mistake so the pattern is not ready to be posted yet. I keep forgetting how thick two layers of fleece can be because the pattern’s circumference is 22” so it was snug on the head and it ended up fitting Madeline. I guess she gets a new hat! So back to the drafting table. Once I get the hat pattern graded to 23.5”, which I think should be a comfortable fit, I’ll be posting it. Yay!
Another thing I’m currently working on is the kids neck tie which has an adjustable Velcro neck strap like the bow tie I had done *here*. The tie will be wrapped separately around the neck strap and maybe stitched to the strap so that it won’t move. Logan has a school concert this week and the teacher had asked them to wear red, white, and blue so we went to our usual fabric place, Joann, and he picked it out himself. Since the tie is cut on bias, this print works really well because some patterns are printed crossgrain and would look diagonal after it’s been cut into a tie. Good choice, Logan!
Ok, so I’ve rambled on long enough. Now, less talky and more sewy!
October is such a fun and busy month! I can never decide which I love more – the dressing up, the candies, the fall/Halloween decor, the change of colors in the scenery, or the fresh cool crisp air after a long hot summer. Every year, I say I’m going to decorate the house with all things fall and Halloween on October 1st and then things just somehow start happening… One of those things is the choosing of the costumes – see, when the kids are little you can dress them up in whatever costume you want – kind of like you’re really expressing yourself vicariously through the little people but as they get older they got their own ideas of what’s cool and what’s awesome. They want to express themselves which is totally fine by me.
Madeline just turned 3 and she could care less if she was wearing a potato sack so I gave Logan some creative decision making this year for Madeline because I thought it’d be fun for a big brother to get to choose something cute for his little sister. He decided he wanted to be a princess since he had chosen to dress up as a prince. And me being the overthinker that I am, I literally did a little presentation for him showing him different styles of princely attire from the 1600s to Disney’s dashing princes. He said nope to every single one. Finally, I handed him a sewing pattern book and told him to pick something out. In less than a minute, he points out what looked like a traditional soldier uniform costume from the 1700s.
“Logan, you know that’s a soldier costume and not a prince right?” To which he murmured nonchalantly with a “I like this one”. Ok, fine. Let’ just move onto the color.
We found some stretch red velvet $4 a yard – her princess dress and his prince’s jacket would use up at least 3 yards. Now I’m calculating the cost of the main fabric as well as the trims, the pants, and something for his Revolutionary soldier boots. So I’m watching and waiting like a tiger in the bushes to pounce on the beautiful red velvet when it goes on sale but sadly it didn’t and I’m pressed for time. Finally, I go to my stash closet and found this 3 or so yard of sky blue cotton fabric with rabbits, squirrels, abstract trees, and leaves….a busy little fabric that I’d bought at Aeon mall in Okinawa a few years ago. Ok, have you ever held a piece of fabric in your hands and suddenly fantastic visions just flash before your eyes? My visions said to me, “You will make a Japanese Lolita dress with puffy sleeves, layers of gathered skirts, ruching, more gathers all over and lots and lots of bows!” I got to sketching, drafting, and then sewing. I must admit, I have this habit of changing things along the way. Things look different in real life than in the sketches but I think the changes made the details in the dress pop.
I ended up shortening the under skirt and adding another band of gathers. The upper skirt got another 2” of ruching and originally I had the bows placed on the rushing in self fabric but after I had made the blue bows changed my mind and switched them with white bows. The blue bows got placed on the center front neck and on the sleeves and one made into a barrette. There was supposed to be gigantic bow to go on the front at the waist but I ended up replacing it with lots of smaller bows.
I was also going to have white long fleece sleeves attached to the short puffy sleeves since it was freezing cold last year but it’s been in the 60s-70s. The weather truly is fickle or is it because I’m prepared? Lol. I ended up making both a light long sleeve t-shirt and a fleece sweater that Madeline can wear underneath based on the temperature. Bring it, Weather, I’m ready! The super good news is I’ll be posting the free printable pattern for the long sleeve t-shirt and the sweater here! So be sure to be on the lookout for that.
Ok, I’m off to work on the Revolutionary soldier, and yes it’s cutting it so close since the Halloween festivities in town begin on the 27th. Oh well. Hopefully, I’ll be better prepared next year. Hopefully.
This is my second time grading a pattern and although I hit some frustrating moments including trying to fix the wonky curves, the categorizing/naming part of the pattern turned out to be trickier. Lounge pants? Pajamas pants? But they’ve been worn outdoors too. Yes, I usually make these pants out of cute flannel prints for around the house but I’ve also made them out of cotton, cotton jersey, denim, linen blend, fleece and also sweater fleece. So, finally I just went with something simple and less ambiguous…The Kids Pants Pattern. Ok, so the name is not so snazzy but these pants can be as fancy as you can get it to be! Like cropping the legs and adding some fun ruffles to the hem. Or sewing some patch pockets on top which is faster and easier than seam pockets in my opinion. Oh, a lady recently asked if these pants were from the bloomers I had made a while back, *right here*. Actually, the bloomers (or shorts) were made from this pattern. If I’m making shorts for my daughter, I’ll just lop off the pattern’s legs and leave a 1.5” inseam and about 7” for my son. Just play around with the length of the inseam to make different types of shorts.
For now, let’s make these simple and less ambiguously-named pants.