Every holiday I stand in my closet and look for something that is both dressy and comfortable and this year I’m going to have some lovelies to choose from! We usually do quite a bit of entertaining at our place this time of year and with that, quite a bit of cooking so comfort is key. But as hostess, I want to look festive and feel pretty.
You’re probably thinking "I love velvet, it’s luxurious, soft, glamorous but hard to sew, right?" Wrong. This crushed velvet is an easy first step into sewing your first velvet garment because this isn’t velvet in the formal sense, it’s stretch velour which for sewing and I would argue, wearing, is even better. I have some tips here that will have you crushing on this fabric.
Well I'm pretty excited to be a guest blogger today for Cali Fabrics and couldn't resist appeasing my velvet fix with their gorgeous collection of crushed velvets. There are several rich colors of this fabric on the Cali Fabrics website and I couldn’t choose just one so in true “fabricaholic” form I went ahead and picked two! I chose the romantic dusty light blue and elegant wine color for my holiday makes (but you can check out more colors here).
I took out my tried and true Blue Dot Patterns Georgia Top (of all my patterns I’ve made this the most and use coupon code CALIFAB and get 20% off the pattern for all of November!) to make a dusty blue luxurious (and very quick) sweatshirt. I made it straight out of the package minus the topstitching and it was quick and simple because this pattern doesn’t have any hems. I cut and sewed this in under two hours! I will probably wear this on Thanksgiving as it’s comfortable, washable (key when cooking, right?) and I’m pretty sure everyone will want to hug me.
For my next make I used the wine crushed velvet to sew up Simplicity’s fall release 8982. I bought this pattern as soon as it came out because of View C. The sleeves are divine! This top is almost as simple as the Georgia Top but adds set-in sleeves, gathers at the cuffs and a hem. Still, nothing difficult here and with the stretch velvet, the sleeves slid in like a dream and I used a twin needle for the hem. This top is just as comfortable and very easy to dress up. It looks good with black jeans but also would be great with a skirt and heels. Hopefully someone will invite me to a New Year’s party (wink,wink) because I’ll be ready with this top, black pants and sparkly earrings.
Now here are some tips that’ll help you overcome your fears and help you fill your closet with stretch velvet:
Choose the right pattern: This crushed stretch velvet has great stretch and recovery so it’ll work on a pattern for knits, but what’s most important in choosing a pattern for this fabric is the design. Simple lines and fewer pieces are a great way to insure success and since the fabric shines on it’s own anyway, there’s no use choosing something complicated. Both of the patterns I chose have 5 pieces each and require very little pressing. Which takes me to my next point...
Careful when pressing (you don’t want to crush your velvet): I try to press as little as possible when working with any velvet but when you do need to press, use the coolest iron setting that will work and press from the wrong side...always. In addition, press velvet against velvet. You could use a fancy needle board but why when you can use a scrap of velvet? Have your scrap velvet face up on your ironing board and your project face down so the pile of both are together. On curvy seams, I laid my scrap over my ham to press.
Be mindful of the nap: This fabric has a one way nap so when cutting and sewing make a quick double check to be sure everything is facing the same direction.
Roll your fabric to eliminate creasing: After cutting, I rolled my pattern pieces with my velvet to keep creases from forming.
Test your stitches: I do this on every project. Since this fabric is technically a knit, a ball point needle and a narrow zig zag stitch with a long stitch length worked well for me but use whatever works for you. The stretch stitch on my machine (it looks like a lightning bolt on the stitch guide if you have one) is too close together so if I have to take a seam out (gulp) it’s too hard to take out!
If you have a walking foot, use it: It’s not necessary but it will help.
You’re not going to believe me when I say this but use a fabric glue stick if you need to: When it came time to fold up my hem and I wasn’t able to press it in place, I sparingly used a fabric glue stick (not regular glue stick!) to keep everyone in place. Although it washes out and this fabric is washable, I didn’t want to make my project too gooey, so a dot here and there on the hem and when folding the neckbands in half really helped.
Thank you Cali Fabrics for the opportunity to sew with these lovely fabrics.
Sewing friends, enjoy 20% off the Georgia Top PDF Pattern on the Blue Dot Patterns website for the month of November! Use code: CALIFAB.
I wish you well in your holiday sewing and festivities. I know you’ll look great in your velvet!
#bluedotpatterns, #simplicity patterns, #sewover50, #holidaydressing, #holidaysewing
It's Georgia Week this week and I wanted to share some inspo and a coupon to get you started on your fall sewing!
The Georgia Top comes with 3 views: View A with neck, waist and armbands, View B with contrast upper body and View C can be made with a woven body and knit arm and neckbands. It's a simple and versatile pattern that lends itself to your creativity.
Here are some Pinterest ideas to get you thinking for fall. Why not add some lace to your Georgia....
Or be creative with patchwork and applique...
Or keep it simple and classic in black and white.
Pick up your Georgia Top PDF pattern now through Monday for 25% off with code GEORGIAWEEK in the shop. And tag all your makes #georgiatop and #bluedotpatterns. We'd love to see what you make!
I just finished a dynamic duo to add to my summer wardrobe. Here's New Look 6413 and of course the beloved Blackwood Cardigan by Helen's Closet in a combo that I got really lucky to find. I've had my eye on this rayon crepe print at Fabricland (my local fabric store in O.C.) and was fortunate to find a dreamy lightweight french terry in a beautiful rose that goes perfectly with the print. When this happens...you have to bring both fabrics home.
This dress is really simple and perfect for a beginner or anyone that needs a quick project. It calls for a front bodice zipper which I thought would be odd but actually looks really nice. It's completely unnecessary for the dress (it would pull over without it) but you would need to put it in for the jumpsuit view. Since I made this as a sample for the fabric store I included it so people could see the pattern as it's written.
I don't think anyone needs another Blackwood cardigan review so i won't add one here but I've made 5 now if that says anything about it. But what I like about this one is the color. It's not a color I would normally look at but it turns out it goes with so many things in my closet! I probably have at least 3 other outfits for it.
Just a quick share today as I've got more dresses in the works.
Dresses have been on the cutting table quite a bit lately and here's a new one. I absolutely love this dress, it's feminine but not too fussy, blue (my fav) and an easy to wear wrap. And it's swishy!
There are quite a few wrap dress patterns out there and frankly I'd like to try them all but I chose this new Simplicity 8637 (View C in View D length) because I love the flounce. I made up a quick bodice muslin and I'm really glad I did because although fitting a wrap dress is easier than fitting some dresses, I still needed a few changes. The bodice darts on this dress are really long! I shortened both 1 1/4". I also straightened out the shoulder seam because I have square shoulders (if I don't do this I'll get neckline gaping). And over the last year or more I've noticed I'm making fitting adjustments that I've never needed before which on this dress I shortened the bodice 3/8" which is brand new for me.
Overall this is a simple pattern even though it took me quite a while to make. Of late, projects have taken me longer than usual but I also took extra time pressing and used a pressing cloth on everything to avoid getting any shine from the iron.
I used a navy viscose twill from LA Finch fabrics. It's a gorgeous fabric and has the perfect drape for the flounce. I used this same fabric in red for this project. It's a little bit heavier than a challis and the extra body makes the flounce lay perfectly. And about that flounce...hemming this flounce is not for anyone in a hurry (if you choose to do a rolled hem) but if you have a serger that does a rolled hem I highly recommend using that. I did on this dress and I had it hemmed in about 15 minutes including switching the machine. It's so satisfying!
I've been participating in #Sewfreshsewclean13 and this is my entry this week. Check it out on Instagram!
More dresses are in the works and I'll share soon.
Happy Sewing, Diane
I'm happy to share with you a topstitching technique I use quite often in my sewing. I used it here on my Coffeehouse Pants both on the pocket and on the hem (see below). This is one of those sewing tricks that I've shared in my sewing classes and people don't believe that it actually works because it sounds too easy! Although reverse bobbin work is something we often see in quilting or "art to wear", I think it's perfect for everyday garment sewing and it's a whole lot of fun for something so quick and easy.
Reverse bobbin topstitching is stitched from the wrong side of the fabric so when you look from the front you are actually looking at the bobbin thread. If you load some chunky or interesting thread that might normally be too thick as an upper thread, you can load it in the bobbin and use it. It can be a thread for hand embroidery or machine...I've used different types. Here's how to do it:
Enjoy my friends. And I'd love to see examples of your stitching!
Well, I really could've used a red blouse back in December but this project didn't all come together for me until February. So we could look on the bright side and say I got my December 2019 red blouse already finished! And what's even better is I used some beautiful fabric I purchased from LA Finch last year so I'm sewing from my stash. Ahead of the game stash sewing is a win, win!
This is Butterick 5997, and I've admired the blouses Lori of Girls in the Garden has made with this pattern. And if it weren't so close to spring (especially here in SoCal) I'd make another one in flannel just like the one she did. I love this sewing community because would I have ever thought this would be a great pattern for a flannel without Lori's inspiration? We have some creative sewists out there and I'm really glad people take the time to share.
I pretty much made View A except I kept the front length like View B and didn't make the cuffs on the sleeve. This rayon twill is just too soft to hold a cuff and I like the look without it. If you're looking for a blouse that's long enough for leggings, this is it. This is my second collar band blouse in a row (not sure why) and it's not out of my system quite yet as I have a piece of this fabric in navy that I have set aside for a banded collar dress.
When I sew this again I'll make the shoulder narrower because the sleeve sits just off the shoulder and I think it would look better at the true shoulder line (see above). I suppose I could fix it but am I that bothered by it? All that said, the sleeve is really nicely drafted and popped in easily. And friends, this blouse is very roomy. My measurements are very close to a Big 4 size 14 but I find tops fit me much better around the shoulders and neck if I make a 12. Anyone else do this? Occasionally I will do a small wide back adjustment on a 12 (not on this top) but if I make a 14 it just looks sloppy. I heard Melissa Watson of McCall's patterns talk about this on the Love to Sew podcast and it just made so much sense! It was especially important to stay on the smaller side with the loose fit of this top.
I highly recommend this pattern and will be making it again. Wouldn't it be a nice basic white blouse? Do you know I don't have a single white blouse in my closet?
I have lots more to share as I've been sewing like crazy. 8 Pieces so far this year!
Sometimes you find yourself in a place you'd never expect or even know is possible. It’s happened to all of us too many times to count, right? Well, I’ve found myself over the last few months in just such a place and I’m using sewing to get me through.
I’m a pattern designer and up until 7 months ago I was also a sewing teacher. My dream job. First hand, I was able to see the life changes that come when someone learns how to take a flat piece of cloth and turn it into something. It can be truly magical! I’ve seen sewing mend a heart from a broken engagement and give someone who’s no longer a caregiver a sense of purpose. It’s helped those people who have, like me and maybe you, had a life change.
2 years ago I started feeling not quite like myself. It’s actually a long and drawn out story that I won't bore you with but over a period of several months and many doctors, I found myself plagued with vision issues, body weakness, numbness, fatigue, speech problems and difficulty walking and navigating stairs. My family, friends and students watched me change and I tried to hide my problems but it was getting more and more difficult and scary. After 16 months of doctors I landed in a brilliant university neurologist’s office and she ran hoards of tests and found I had Lyme disease. What? Shocking for all of us since they say “Lyme disease doesn't exist in California” which is a dirty lie, by the way, that thankfully my doctor didn’t believe. I was losing my sweet mom to pancreatic cancer at the time of my diagnosis so I put off treatment while I took care of her. Soon after I said “Goodbye” to my mom, I underwent treatment that cleaned out the Lyme bacteria but left me with additional nerve and muscle damage. Thankfully, I’m now on my way to recovery with physical and occupational therapy and the help of an army of family and friends.
This really is going to be about the blouse, I promise.
Before this all happened, the “things” that made me tick were sewing and distance running. I now walk very slowly with the help of a bright blue walking stick I named “Eileen” which is an improvement over my former walker which I didn’t name (probably because I lost my sense of humor for a bit there). I may not be a distance runner anymore but I am happy with the leg progress I’ve made as I can walk further as each month goes by. My hands have not healed quite so quickly so sewing has turned out to be difficult and I’ll go so far as to say disheartening. But given my new disabilities/changes I’m trying to figure out how to get back in touch with myself while feeling separated from the things that made me tick (pun completely intended).
But we’ve all been here. Well, maybe not exactly here but here in the sense that we all have hiccups and interruptions in our lives that take us away from the things that make us us. In my case it’s physical but maybe for you the interruption was a wonderful thing like having a baby, getting a new job or moving to a different city or something difficult like being a caregiver or recovering from a loss. So how do we find our way back? Or, the better question is how do we stay in touch with ourselves while embracing our current situation?
Pretty philosophical for a sewing blog, but those of you who consider yourselves “makers” and you have trouble “making” for whatever life reason have all pondered this.
I can tell you the solution to some of my problems started with this shirt. Who knew McCalls 7360 would help me climb this hill? I call this shirt the “Happy Shirt” for obvious reasons, it looks happy. But really this should be dubbed “The Occupational Therapy Shirt” not as sexy a moniker but certainly accurate.
When I first tried to sew after my treatment, I wasn’t strong enough to cut fabric and could only sit up for a short period of time. It was discouraging and thus I stayed away from my sewing room. I had ideas and the desire to sew but it was difficult to bring myself to try.
With my initial sewing failure fresh in my mind, one of my first occupational therapy goals was “to cut fabric.” I’m not sure my therapist has ever had a patient with that goal but there it was. With practice and by using both hands (and the help of new easier scissors from my thoughtful husband and son) I did it! Since this went well I decided to really use sewing to help me heal. My next goal was to make a shirt with a collar. Don’t you just wonder what my therapist thought? My therapist said “Okay, in how long? Let’s quantify it. Don't think about how long it would take the “old Diane” but how long it will take you now.” “Well, the 'old Diane' would make this in 4-ish hours so the “current Diane” can do it in 8 hours. I’ll allow myself twice the time.” I said. “Great! Keep track of your time and let’s see how it goes. If it takes you longer it doesn’t matter, just do it.” She said.
Setting goals has always worked for me and this new goal freed me up to walk into my sewing room, turn on the timer and start. Somehow this approach separated me from the disappointment of before and the sadness that comes with thinking about what I can’t do anymore and allowed me to move forward. More than 14 hours later here it is, my goal achieved! Yes, it took me more than 3 times what it would’ve before and the quality of my work is not the same but the maker in me is alive once again.
My doctor recently said to me when I asked how long it would take me to recover “We aren't going to talk about time, we are only going to talk about progress.” You can imagine how hard it was for the impatient me to hear that. But I thought about it for a few days, really digested it and decided to own it. It’s been just about the most helpful thing I’ve heard. I made something. That’s progress. We aren’t going to talk about the time it took.
I’ve physically adapted to so many things and I can adapt my thinking too. It doesn’t matter how many things I make in a month or how perfect they are, I just need to make progress. Are you here too? Have you had a baby and you don’t have time? Can you find 15 minutes twice a week to make progress? Did your life change involve moving to a different place and you don’t have room to sew or a job where you work more? Can you pick up some hand work that will move your skills forward as you work in your kitchen or on your lunch break?
Sewing is a great way to help me get back to me. I watched it happen in my students and now it’s my turn.
Oh and by the way, I loved this pattern and the butter soft Robert Kaufman corduroy from Fabricland. I made a contrast under placket, tab and collar facing with 1/2 yard of the cotton lawn print. I even had enough of the floral to bind the sleeve seams so the rolled up sleeve looks finished. This shirt is a keeper…for so many reasons.
If you made it to the end of this very long blog post, I thank you for taking the time. It felt good to get it out.
Happy Sewing Friends!
The Dover Jacket just got an update! Yep, that's right, it's new and improved and ready to add to your wardrobe. Here are the new features:
-Extended sizing (sizes 4-18)
-Two piece easy to sew sleeves
-Longer 3/4 sleeve
-Two lengths including a car coat length
If you're an advanced beginner and you've never made a coat or jacket, this would be the perfect pattern for you. It's an easy and quick sew that's a quick wardrobe builder.
If you have already purchased the Dover Jacket and you'd like a copy of the updated version, please email me using the "Email Me" box and I will gladly send it to you.
McCall's 7254 has been in my stash for quite a while and for the life of me I can't figure out why I waited so long to make it. I purchased this super soft French terry from LA Finch fabrics with the idea that I would make a hoodie, but when it came it was a little too soft and lightweight to hold a zipper and this pattern came to mind. It took a few minutes but I dug around my pattern stash until I found it.
If you've never made a jacket before then this pattern is for you for a couple of reasons: it's designed for knits so setting in the sleeve is really easy, the collar and peplum are sewn in one circular seam (what could be easier?) and it's quick! It was start to finish sewing in about 2 hours! If you're new to knits, a ponte knit would be a great (nice and stable) and would be a great weight for the style.
Of course I picked a windy day to take these pics but what do you do? I did end up making a hoodie and I'll be blogging about that soon!
I wanna be your Valentine this year so I'm offering all PDF patterns in the store at 2 for $14 with coupon code BEMINE. It's only one day!!!! Offer ends 2/14/18 at midnight PST! Enjoy!
Hi! I'm Diane, a wife, mom, sewing teacher and pattern designer from sunny Southern California. I share my sewing adventures here on the Blue Dot Blog formerly Gatorbunnysews. For more info click here.