Month: April 2012

“Top”-sy Turvey

I have had the pattern for this top – Butterick 5495 – for a long time now; it is one of the first ones that I purchased, months ago.  After my bag disaster, I wanted to try another “quick and easy” project. I’ve had issues in the past (on a different tunic and a dress)…


Not Meant to be a Bag Lady

I feel like I have yet to begin a blog post with “So I did this easy sewing project the other day…”

Sad for me that today is not the day I do it either.

I bought this pattern – Butterick 5741 – during one of the recent $1 per pattern sales at Hancock. I was excited for an easy project – one that would not take me over a month and 20 different sewing sessions to complete. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE my Steampunk costume – but it was quite a long project. I found a super cute print I liked for the bag during the same trip to the store, and I was ready to go.

During cutting I discovered I needed some heavy interfacing. Well, the pattern suggested that I use “hair canvas” specifically. I have no clue what that is, and it is not something I had handy. So I used heavy sew-in interfacing. I haven’t actually used the sew-in interfacing before, and I thought this would be a good project to practice on. I also quickly discovered that cutting a bunch of square interfacing pieces would be confusing, so I was sure to mark my pattern pieces with numbers and even the dots and lines. Incidentally, I use chalk for marking things now, at the suggestion of a friend. My “Mark-B-Gone” pen is not the greatest.

I sewed on the interfacing to all the pieces. Well, I basted. I even tried to baste inside the 5/8″ seam line so I wouldn’t have to call on Fred later.

The next thing I had to do was prep the pockets. There were two different types of pockets, a single pocket for the two sides and a double pocket for the front and back. I hemmed the top edge of all the pockets and attached the pockets to their appropriate sides. The double pocket sides required some additional ironing and center stitching.

I loved using the pink contrast thread.  Below is a shot of the completed attached pockets for one side of the bag.

I did wind up having to rip out some of the basting stitches for the pockets.  Fred 2.0 was super handy for this.  Check out that zoom factor!

I did take a picture of one of the pocket instructions because I was amused at how it “dangled”.  You almost lose a step because of the formatting!

The arrow points to a sentence that is at the bottom of Step 8, all by itself.  Really, it belongs as part of Step 9.  I could see people easily missing that little piece.  Sigh.  By the way, in case you couldn’t tell, I decided I did not need a “loop” on my bag.  I completely left this piece off.  Can’t figure out what I would have really used it for.

Once the pockets and ripping out some of the basting were done, I had to attach the four faces of the bag together at the side seams. This wasn’t too bad.

But after that I had to attach the bottom of the bag. This part sucked a LOT.  The corners in particular were tough.  I had to stop at each one, reinforce, and then pick up the presser foot to adjust the bag before continuing the next seam.  I probably should have looked this up on The Google because there must be some trick to it.  Even when I was finished the corner work on the bottom is pretty craptastic.

Once I did all of this, I essentially had to rinse and repeat this for the lining.  Minus the pockets, but plus some facings.  I used the same fabric for the lining.  Nothing fancy.  I don’t even think I have pictures of the lining process, until I got to this step of the instructions.

This image along with the words makes me feel like I was supposed to pin the lining to the bag, right sides together, and then stitch along the upper edge of the bag.  The only opening I see here is at the top of the handles.  And the instructions say to stitch along the sides of the handle.  So I did.  However, when I was done, I had this:

In retrospect, it kinda seems like had I done this step with right sides OUT, I might have been ok.  Or maybe the u-shaped stitching on the handles was just the basting, and I should have left that part open to use for turning the lining?  Who knows?  There was no way I could turn this to the right side through the tiny holes at the top of the handles.  I was sooooo mad.  I decided to rip one of the sides open and do the turning.  After I turned the bag, I was in no way in the mood to slipstitch it closed, so I just machine stitched it close.

I was too mad to figure out how to deal with the handles that were also not correct.  I was supposed to slip stitch those together somehow.  But I was so mad at this point, that this is how I left the bag:

Four tentacles instead of two handles.  Some pretty messy corners and stitching in the lining area.  I am still hoping that Elizabeth, who has made several successful bags, will be able to look at this and give me some magic spell to fix it.  Otherwise, it will probably sit in my house holding all of my patterns, a blatant reminder to myself that I was apparently not meant to sew bags.  In reality, I am not really the kind of girl who has ever been terribly interested in purses or bags.  That clearly also extends into my sewing life.  My only wish is that I had not used such cute fabric for such a failure of a project.  Oh well, you win some, you lose some.


Organization Overture

I thought I would throw in a less lengthy post than usual.  It’s not related to a specific project, but centers around how I organize all of my various sewing STUFF. But first … I got a random email yesterday from my favorite pattern review site.  The subject?  “You have been featured on!”  What…


Quest Complete!

The gamer in me can visualize the text informing me that I have gained some random amount of experience for completing my “quest” to create a Steampunk costume for DragonCon 2012.  Or perhaps I should liken this experience to tradeskilling in an MMO … “Your skill in tailoring has increased by 1!”  I’d like to…


Doing the Pants Dance

I threw you off today, didn’t I?  No song related title.  Hah!  I am unpredictable like that.  Or something.  It’s possible I just got lazy.  Realistically, there was no way for me to keep that going forever.  Anyhoo.

You would think after sewing 8 pairs of pajama pants, that I would be a pro at pants. I certainly figured I could handle a pants pattern with the words “sew fast & easy” on it in large print.  I chose Butterick 4861, View A (in the picture below, View A is the top left set of blue capris).

These pants are the third and final piece of my Steampunk costume. I did the cutting of the nice burgundy stretch moleskin for this pattern a few weeks ago. A few days ago, I re-read the instructions and began piecing the pattern together.

I got as far as step 1 before I got thoroughly confused by my pattern instructions. Really?! Surely by now you know this is only adding fuel to the fire of my hatred for pattern instructions.

I had to work with the pocket pieces first, putting right sides of the pocket fabric and lining together, and stitching along the seam line for both curved edges. Here is what the pattern instructions said:

I have understitched before, both times on facings for necklines. But I could not for the life of me figure out why or how I was supposed to understitch with the pocket pieces already stitched together.  I’ve never been told to understitch through both pieces … the point is to keep the understitching from being shown on the outside / front of your garment.

I had the following conversation with Elizabeth at this point, via text messages, as we often do when we are sewing remotely:

Me:  “Reading my pants pattern. The waistband requires ease stitching … I hate that. And the zipper part talks about possibly shortening the zipper stop.  Eeeek!”
Me:  “And there is slipstitching.  Mother f*****.  This pattern lies – it is not easy.”
E:  Omg.  That’s awful.  But we can do this.
E: Is that really an “easy” pattern?
Me: “It says six sew fast & easy on the pattern.  fail.  currently trying to figure out how to understitch a pocket…”
E:  “Wow… I think an amendment to the pattern rant is in order.”
Me:  “Quite possibly.”
E:  “Damn them all. I still say we can do it.”
Me: “It bothers me that I have understitched before AND that this is the 1st step of the pattern and I don’t get it.”
E: “I understand.  Also, step one?!  Holy f***.”
Me: “Mmmhmmm.  Grunt.”
E: “Good luck, my friend.  It’ll be ok.”
Me: “I am wondering if I should not have done both sides before understitching.  But the picture is ass.”
E:  “I do not understand why this is the first thing you have to do.”
Me: “This is a different type of pocket than we’ve done. Kinda goes on the outside of the pants, like jeans.”
E:  “Yikes”
Me: “F*** it.  No understitching.”
E:  “Yes!!”
E:  “Excellent plan.”
Me: “Are you doing any sewing? Tell me of your sewing so I can forget how much I hate pattern instructions.”

I am so thankful for our banter, whether it is in person or remote.  Keeps me sane.  Or at least, it keeps my sewing machine in one piece.

At this point, I do not regret my decision to not understitch the pockets. Still have no clue why it was necessary.  Here are my pockets, the one on the right is inside out still, the one on the left is turned out and ironed (without understitching).  The arrow points to the seam that the pattern wanted me to understitch.  If anyone can enlighten me to what I was supposed to do here and why I will hate myself later, please let me know.

Next I attached the pockets to the front of the pants.  I basted across the open ends to attach them. I also learned a new term – “edgestitch” which strangely is a lot like it sounds. I straight stitched down the bottom curved edge of the pocket, as close as I could get without falling off the edge. Think of the pockets on your jeans, that is the type of pocket this project has.

The next steps are the scary ones, involving the zipper at the “fly” of the jeans. I had to stitch a portion of that front seam to start with. I even marked my fabric with chalk lines and symbols, you should be proud of me!

After the stitching, I pressed the left seam back (markings AND ironing? Insanity, I know), and examined the exact positioning of the zipper.

The yellow line in the above picture represents where the bottom of my zipper should be.  The instructions mentioned that I might have to create a new stop for the zipper by “whipstitching” over the zipper teeth.  It was time to confer with Elizabeth again.

Me:  “Wtf is ‘whipstitch’? is that in your sewing book?”
E:  “It is not. That shit sounds made up. Are you sure this pattern wasn’t printed on April 1st or something?”

Hey Easy Pattern! What’s with all the new terms?! Elizabeth’s sewing book didn’t even know that one.  Even sadder, this pattern actually had a glossary of terms at the front … but whipstitch was not in it.  Luckily The Google mentioned that it was like overcasting. I selected a zigzag stitch because it had the most options for changing stitch width  (6.5) and length (0.5). I am not sure how I feel the new stop will hold up to the test of time, but I feel like it will work.  I forgot to take a picture of the new zipper stop, but  I will have a picture for next post, I promise.   I think I have one or two sewing sessions left with the pants, based on the pattern, but we’ll see.  Probably 2.  These things better fit and look good with the rest of the costume when I am done with them!


Screw “Take It Easy”

I really should have listened to the Eagles advice.  The bustier part of my costume was anything but easy.  But alas I already finished the coat part of my Steampunk costume, and it is so fabulous I had to continue even though the bustier was daunting. I began work on the bustier during a sewing…


Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

It’s supremely cliche, but seemed a song-appropriate title for the activities from last weekend.  Why am I continuing this song-themed titling you wonder?  I am with you on that.  Maybe I will get some good ideas for blog titles due to my current obsession with The Voice. Anyway, Elizabeth invited a bunch of her girlfriends over for…