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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Saturday, June 1, 2019

Interfacing and a call for ideas

Hi folks.

I am back from my travels and settling into some serious sewing.

I would like your thoughts though on interfacing.

For a long time I have been living off my stash of excellent interfacing from Fashion Supply. 

Just recently however I ran out of the lovely mid-weight fusible I use for shirts and general sewing but see from the website that they no longer ship outside of the US (why do I always find this out after I get back to Canada from a visit?)

In fact the last shirt I made for my son in California I made with some recommended woven fusible I bought at a big chain fabric store. I fused following the instructions exactly and it seemed fine.

However when I was in Nashville visiting with the kids last week (they were there for a wedding/ weekend and I went down to babysit) I did the washing and pulling everything from the dryer, which is how most families wash these days, I found that the collar had rippled and bubbled like fusible used to long ago in the olden days. I had pre-shrunk both the fabric and interfacing too.

I was incredibly disappointed, this was a gift, and I left my son with elaborate instructions on how to steam press that collar down again every time it came out of the dryer, but this of course is not reasonable - who has time to do that with a baby and a busy job?

So my current dilemma is this, since it has been so long since I have purchased garment interfacing from the store.

What is your favourite interfacing and why?

Of course I can default to a sew-in but that seems to be admitting defeat in this day and age. Incidentally I use a lot of fusible tricot with no issues.

I could try to track down another specialty supplier but that kind of defeats my mission to provide tips and help to new and returning sewists, as in my newsletter - I would like to be able to use and recommend something that is readily available.

Ideally I would love to have some samples to test and report back on - I would like to fuse, wash and dry and photograph the results. I may fire off a link to this blog post to a few suppliers and see what happens.

In the meantime I would like your help.

What interfacings do you use and why?

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Review of Jalie 3911 Michelle summer dress


Of all the new Jalies I made this spring I think I had most fun making the Michelle summer dress.



My absolute favourite thing in the world, next to my family, dog, and rhubarb is discovering a nifty new way to sew something familiar - particularly if that new way is:

  • easier
  • faster
  • slicker
  • smoother



... than the way I would have done the same task myself.

The Michelle dress and tank was that kind of nice construction surprise. Here are the pattern pieces and line drawing:




I made the dress. The skirt part was as expected- a big gathered rectangle set into the bodice in a waist seam somewhat above my natural waist, by say 2-3 inches. So raised but not empire.

The top part of this dress is fully lined. If you don't want that much fabric, this lining can be cut off shorter to make as sort of all in one facing for the neckline and armholes. You might want to do this if you were just making the dress top as a tank top only, and didn't want to figure out two layers at the hem.

Now you might think that making this top fully lined would be tricky with those kind of complicated bagging instructions those of use who have bagged vests might be familiar with, but in fact it is so easy. 

I really can't do the instructions justice here. Basically it amounts to sewing the front lining and front together at the neck and armholes, and doing the same at the back, turning one set to the right side, sliding one unit into the other, machine stitching across the shoulders, turning it all to the right side and then sewing the side seams.

You really need the pattern for the complete process if the above run-on sentence makes little sense.

The resulting bodice with this technique is clean and fast and definitely something a beginner could do successfully. As method it eliminates the need to finish the neck and armholes with facings or bindings too, which is a bonus.

Note that the front and back pattern pieces are identical, which makes matching the pieces fool proof, and because the neckline is very open there is no need for zippers or other closures.

I made my version with a navy lawn from Fabricville with little white birds printed on it. Because the fabric was so light the lined bodice was perfect as was the gathered skirt.




It seemed odd when we took these shots on a cold, grey May day here to be putting on something so bare. I am sometimes aware too that as I get older and am no longer a spring chicken that my arms remind me more and more of chicken's wings but there are times and locations when something to wear in the heat are really important.

I am thinking here of the heat of Austin Texas where my middle son now lives. Those of you who know that climate can appreciate why I appreciate a dress like this for when I am there in the hotter months.

I also could see this as a dress, since this Jalie pattern comes in size 2 as in toddlers right up, I can make for the little and bigger girls. Definitely for summer sewing for children the fact this could be whipped up so easily means the Michelle is going to have multiple iterations around here. 


I am thinking too I may even do a shell too for myself - how useful would one in white, self-lined be?