Tuesday, June 13, 2017


I mentioned a yet-to-be-seen handsewn baby hat in an earlier post and was finally able to get kiddo to wear it for one minute so I could take a photo. Not a great photo, but for once the little guy didn't immediately take it off his head, so I'm calling it a win.

This adorable newsboy cap is another one from Sewn Hats, which is becoming my go-to book for hat patterns. I'm really sad that kiddo doesn't like this one more but it's too cute not to keep trying. Maybe one day he'll actually wear it from longer than it takes to get it off his head.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Summer Sewing Gone Vintage

We finally hit summer this week in Wisconsin, which means two things: 1) I need to install the window A/C units in the house, and 2) I want all my clothing, including what I'm sewing, to be lightweight. Happily I have a tank top pattern on my to-make list - the Tiny Pocket Tank from Grainline Studio (pattern no longer available) - and some leftover rayon challis from my Mojave kaftan that are just right for summer sewing.

The Tiny Pocket pattern is really simple, so I decided to make this project interesting by using my 100-year-old Singer 27 machine (which I'd yet to use for a full sewing project). Here are some initial impressions about sewing with the old machine:

  • I don't think rayon challis was the right fabric to test this machine out on, as the machine is pretty... sturdy. Sewing the rayon wasn't really a problem, but I get the feeling that the Singer will zoom through quilting cottons and wool. It's a bit more fiddly with fluid fabrics (though that may also be me getting used to the machine and treadling).
  • I'm totally spoiled by the seam allowance guides on my new machines. I'm going to have to get used to not having them on this machine.
  • Also not features on this machine: back stitch. Instead of using back stitch to anchor the beginning/ending of a seam, I: tied a lot of knots, turned my sewing around to "back stitch", and overlapped the start and end my stitches when sewing in a loop (depending on the part of the project). I still have to figure out the best way to anchor the ends of my seams going forward.
  • The Singer works a treat on long straight seams, but it's difficult to sew slowly or with many stops/starts due to the foot treadle. It was quite fiddly to sew on the bias tape around the neckline and armholes, between the fluidity of the rayon and stopping to remove pins every 2 inches.

The Singer was actually quite fun to use and the biggest challenge on this project ended up being the fact that I attached the armhole bias binding to the wrong side of the fabric. Everything worked out in the end and I'm really happy with this cheery summer top!

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Hawaiian Fern Dress

I brought 4 lengths of fabric back from my trip to Hawaii last fall, and I'm happy to report that the second length has been sewn up. The purple fern print became a Colette Hazel dress.

I chose this dress pattern to highlight the print pattern on the fabric, as the dress was designed with a border-print fabric option. While my fabric isn't a true border print, it's definitely directional with the design weighted toward the edges - something I wanted to highlight. Plus, Hazel has a dirndl-style skirt which gives an open canvas for the large print.

The thing I'm most proud of with this dress is my finishings. Once upon a time, I sewed up my seams, pressed them, and called everything done. In lucky cases, I broke out my pinking shears. I now find it very important to finish my seams to prevent fraying. I used a number of different techniques to finish seams in dress, including: overlocking, french seams, and bias enclosed seams. The exact finish depended on the construction of that part of the dress, but I think this will stand up better than some of my first sewing projects.

I've actually been waiting a few months to show this off as it's been a chilly spring here in Wisconsin. Now that it's summer, I'm looking forward to wearing this dress a lot - to work with a small suit jacket and on the weekends with a cardigan.