Tuesday, February 4, 2014

DIY Ribbon Art

Hey there!  I'm finally back up and running, and I thought my DIY ribbon art project would be a great welcome-back post.  I have made some changes to my dining room furniture recently, and needed something to hang on a large, 14-foot blank wall.  While walking around my local craft store, I got the idea for some simple DIY ribbon art.

 I started with a 24" x 36" blank canvas (I always wait for my local craft store to put these on sale at 50% off), some gold paint that I had on hand (I ended up using some Martha Stewart Glass Paint in Gold that I had on hand, but your favorite craft paint will do), and a sponge craft brush.  I did 2 coats of pain to get a nice, even cover.

 Once the paint dried, I went to work attaching the ribbons.  I used a heavy-duty staple gun (also from my local craft store... they know me by name there), and I cut the ribbons at 45-degree angles to prevent fraying.  I cut the vertical ribbons to about 40" from end to end, and the horizontal ribbons to about 28" from end to end. 

I first established a grid of 5/8" teal ribbon with gradient-like spacing.  After stapling one end of the ribbon, I measured its distance from the edge of the canvas.  I stapled the other end of the ribbon the same distance from the edge of the canvas on the other side, to ensure the ribbons went on straight.
I wove the horizontal ribbons in and out of the vertical ribbons to establish the grid.  Next, I added different widths and colors to achieve the effect I wanted.  Please disregard the variances in color between the pics - my overhead lighting is terrible!  The pics of the basic ribbon grid below are the most true-to-color.

I'm pretty happy with the way it turned out.  This was a fairly cheap and easy project to throw together, and I was able to customize it to my décor.  It would be cute to do a plaid, stripes, or even diagonal lines.  So many possibilities, and so easy to achieve!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Under Construction!

Hapless is back (again) and changing it up.  I'm planning new posts about sewing and beyond - organizing, crafting, cleaning more efficiently!  I'm excited to share more of my life and projects with you here at The Hapless Seamstress.  Please pardon the mess as I spruce things up around here!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm back, and I love flatlock

   Um, I've been gone for a while. Suffice it to say that I have been a busy girl both professionally and personally. I haven't had as much spare time for sewing as I would like, but I have managed to fit in a few projects here and there.

   We were lucky enough to find an amazing deal on a Huskylock S25 in December. I had been wanting a machine that could do flatlock and cover stitch, and this fit the bill.  I finally had the time and motivation this week to start a project, and I immediately reached for the old standby, Vogue 8670, as well as some black ponte that I had on hand. The 6 of you who read my blog know that I have made this pattern several times, to varying degrees of success.   A familiar pattern was a great first project for this unfamiliar machine, and one that would look great with flatlock seams.

Vogue 8670
   What is the difference between flatlock and overlock? An overlock stitch binds the cut edges of two pieces of fabric together with loops, creating a ridge on the wrong side of a seam. A flatlock butts the cut edges together, and the seam is pulled flat after sewing.  The result is a flat seam with ladder-style stitches on one side and loops on the other.  See this post from Fashion-Incubator for a good explanation of the differences between flatlock/overlock.

   The top came out well overall, although (true to form) I accidentally sewed the top and bottom sleeve seams with the loops on the right side (I had chosen to have the ladder stitches on the right side).  I guess  it's good that I at least did it on both sleeves, so it sort of looks intentional.  I could have taken it apart and re-sewn the sleeves, but I just didn't care.  Still, it looks ok, and the flatlock seams really add to the appeal - it looks straight from the factory floor.  Granted, it would probably be tossed into the "irregular" bin and sold at a discount store, but still.

Loop stitches on the shoulder seam, ladder stitches on the raglan seams... way to go...
   I was originally planning to cover stitch the sleeve cuffs and hem, but I didn't feel like figuring out how to get my machine to cover stitch just yet.  Instead, I figured out how to finish the edges/hem using the flatlock!  Yay!  I'm sure there is an amazing tutorial online somewhere that shows exactly how to do this, but I'm proud of myself for figuring it out on my own.  It's actually very easy:

   Fold the full length of the bottom edge up (I hemmed mine about 2", so I folded it up 2"), then fold it back down so the cut edge is even with the first fold (the result is a top fold of about 1").

   Next, just run the hem through the machine on the flatlock setting, with the fold/cut edge to the left of the machine's knife (but not through the knife.  We're not cutting anything off here...):

   Finally, grab the fabric on either side of the hem, and pull gently to open the seam (this is done on flatlocked construction seams as well):

   And you end up with this (Note that my folded edge was sticking out a bit more than the cut edge, so the hem didn't pull completely flat.  You can avoid this problem by ensuring that the cut edge and folded edge are perfectly even):

Hem - right side
Hem - wrong side
   The great thing about flatlock is that you can use either the loop side or the ladder side of the stitching to add visual interest to garments.  Probably best to just choose one per project and go with it though.  And pay attention when you sew.  Unlike me.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Grudging Acceptance of Sewing Realities

   There are certain verities about sewing and fitting that I've tried to deny from the beginning.  I knew in the back of my mind that they were true, but I thought if I ignored them, they would just go away.  I've learned the hard way that that is not even remotely the case!  So today I pledge to accept the following going forward, in hopes that I will soon produce a wonderfully wearable wardrobe:

  • Interfacing is my friend.  It's there for a purpose.  If a pattern calls for it, I need to use it.  My gut reaction to the word "interfacing" is ugh, a boring, extra step.  It's not that I don't think it's necessary.  I guess I just thought that the need for interfacing somehow didn't apply to me (how haughty!).  I learned from making Simplicity 2587 that interfacing isn't a corner to cut.  The waist on that dress stretches out in the process of putting it on, and then it's too loose until I wash it again.  If I had done as the pattern called for and used interfacing on the waist, it wouldn't stretch out so much.  Okay, so interfacing is way important.

  • Fit. Fit. Fit.  Boy, my dress form has quite a wardrobe.  Too bad I don't!  I recently tweaked the waist length on my dress form, and I think that will help solve part of the fit problem.  Regardless, I'm so lazy about fitting garments to my body.  Which makes no sense, right?  Why waste my time sewing clothes that will only look great on someone else?  I used to be able to wear clothes off the rack perfectly, but that's no longer true.  And now that I'm sewing for myself, it's silly to sew things that would be fitting-room rejects if I were shopping.  A little effort on fitting will go a long way toward finished garments that I can wear with pride: "I made this, and, it fits!!!"

  • Choosing fabrics and colors.  I love bright, vivid colors, and sometimes I lead myself down a path of self-destruction.  I love sea foam green, but should I really wear it all over my body?  My feeling is, probably not.  I am hit-and-miss when it comes to fabric choice.  Is a stretchy, athletic-type fabric really a good choice for a dress just because it's in my stash and needs to be used?  Nope.  Is a shiny, strapless satin jumpsuit going to highlight my imperfections?  I will talk myself into saying yes, knowing full well that it will probably get ugly.  But it sounds so glamorous.  Which brings me to...

  • Sewing to fill holes in my wardrobe.  I have a tendency to sew things that I love the idea of (read: "strapless satin jumpsuit," above), but which have little practical application in my everyday wardrobe.  While they may be fun to look at, they typically don't make it into the wardrobe rotation, and are left to hang on the sidelines of my closet. I must remember that there's not a lot of difference in the process of sewing a practical garment and sewing a fun one - same machine, same thread, same seams.  The feeling of wearing something that fits me wonderfully is much more fun than looking at something that's fabulous but will probably never see the light of day.  Which reminds me, I really need to try StyleArc's Linda pant - I've heard great things.

  • Finally, I should buy fabric with a pattern already in mind.  My fabric inventory isn't terribly big, and I know that lots of people have huge stashes that they're really proud of.  Often I'm disappointed because I end up not having enough yardage of  a fabric in my stash for a pattern that I choose after the fabric is purchased.  The obvious solution would be, buy more yardage of fabrics that catch my eye.  Well, I don't have a ton of space to store my stash, so I really need to keep it slim.  Plus, I won't be spending money on fabric that may or may not get used.  So, I can't buy fabric unless I know I can put it to use on a pattern that I have at home or in the shopping cart.
   So that's it, for now anyway.  I'm really going to try and apply these principles to my next project, which is... a strapless satin jumpsuit.  I just don't learn, do I?

Monday, June 4, 2012

How I Almost Made A Hospital Gown: McCall's 6551

   I narrowly avoided a fashion tragedy last week.  The whole thing started out simply enough.  I had purchased some navy blue crepe-back satin on clearance at Hancock.  A week or so later, I decided I wanted to use it, and selected McCall's 6551, View C (upper right-hand corner).  I thought, "now here's a pattern that has crepe listed as a recommended fabric.  Hooray!"


   Everything was great until I pulled out the fabric.  I forgot that I'd bought crepe-back satin, and not regular crepe.  Lovely.  I had already traced the pattern onto plastic (while one of my cats supervised - see below), and still wanted to make the dress.  I probably could have used the crepe-back satin, but wanted to save it for something else.  I remembered that I'd bought some turquoise-bluish-greenish crepe a few months ago.  Luckily, I had enough to use it for the dress!

Tinsley supervising
   I began cutting the fabric.  The more I thought about it, the more it worried me - picturing the shape of the dress, plus the color of the crepe, produced a mental image that bore an uncanny resemblance to a hospital gown.  Oh no.  What's a hapless n'ere-do-well like me to do?  Taking inspiration from View D on the pattern envelope, I decided to try my hand at color blocking.  I dug out some left-over navy blue crepe (not crepe-back satin, mind you!) from Butterick 5708, and cut the sleeves and belt.  I sewed it up, but it still kind of looked like a hospital gown even with the color blocking:

  This wouldn't do.  I don't want to walk around looking like I just stepped out of Surgical Suite D.  Plus, the length really wasn't flattering on me.  4 inches shorter and a cinch at the waist, and the problem was solved:

   So much better!  However, I wish I'd extended the facing on both the front and back.  The fabric is slightly see-through due to the lighter tone, an it's pretty obvious where the facing ends.  I had thought about extending the facing when I was first tracing the pattern, but decided not to.  I should have listened to my gut and extended it.  I'm considering cutting a new facing and switching it out.

   This actually turned out to be a very simple, but also very cute little dress.  It's not perfect (we are talking about me, after all), but it's better than a hospital gown.  I tried it on, and liked it so much that I decided to take a picture of myself wearing it (which I almost never do).

Please excuse the horrid lighting and spots on my bathroom mirror.  How awful!  I styled the belt differently than on the dress form to show some versatility : )

   Ahh.  This almost-hopsital gown turned into a breath of fresh air.  I can't wait to wear it out and about!

Friday, June 1, 2012

My Little Summer Dress: Simplicity 2587

  I've had this ticked linen in my stash since since I first started sewing over a year ago.  I decided it was high time that it get sewn up into something lovely, and settled on Smiplicity 2587, view B.

Misses' Dresses. Cynthia Rowley Collection

I left out the interfacing and midriff lining (whether that was a mistake or not remains to be seen).  Thankfully the dress was really easy to complete, although I did accidentally sew one of the skirt seams inside out.  That was exasperating, but I got it fixed.  The only thing I have left to do is install a hook and eye above the zipper in back, so no back view has been provided : )

  Although I like the dress overall, it feels a bit more frumpy than what the pattern envelope shows.  I cut a size 10 (again) and found that it was too big (again!), especially after I had handled it during sewing/pressing.  I put it on and looked pregnant!  I washed and dried it, and thankfully it shrunk back down a little (as always, I had pre-washed the fabric prior to sewing).  Being that it's linen, it's nice and breathable for summer, but not fun to iron.  After washing, I re-ironed it and put it on my dress form, and it got wrinkled again!  Sigh.  Oh well, I have a new, cute little dress to wear this summer and I only had to buy the zipper.  That makes my bank account happy!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Simplicity 2497 and the big old flamboyant ruffles


    I made this dress  from crepe-back satin back in February/March and it stayed on my dress form until I took it off on May 24th to fit another dress.  It definitely screams something, I'm just not sure what.  I cut a size 10, but switched the style C skirt for the shorter style A skirt because it hits at knee length on me (I stand tall at 5'1").  I also attached the ruffle closer to the neckline for a more striking affect a la Count Chocula:

  Here's another view of the ruffles.  So pretty!

  This dress features pockets and a side zipper.  I cut a size 10 based on my hip measurement, and the bodice ended up being a bit baggy on me.  Plus, since my waist is high, it blouses a little (this isn't evident on my dress form).  It took forever but I finally admitted to myself this spring that I need to either make muslins or cut a smaller size and grade out at the hips (actually, I should probably do both, but I'm not gonna because I'm lazy.  At least I admit it.).  I think with the right, ahem, undergarments, I can eliminate the bagginess issue in the bodice.  Then I'll be good to go!  The peachy-grapefruit color is so wonderful for summer.  Squeal!