Archive for the ‘Fashion Sewing’ Category
Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012
I made this simple unlined leather tote bag using a regular home sewing machine. The leather is Ralph Lauren closeout leather available at Mood NYC.
“I’m afraid to sew leather!” We hear that from customers all the time at Mood. Would you believe that leather can actually be quite easy and simple to sew? And that you can sew lightweight leather on your home sewing machine without any special equipment? Read on for Mood’s tips on working with leather:
• Start small with your first leather project, just to get the feel for working with leather. My first leather piece was a basic tote bag. Very often leather dealers will have small scraps you can buy to practice on.
• Buy your leather from a place that will take the time to show you the types of skins that are appropriate for your project. Excuse the shameless plug for Mood’s leather department, but Dmitry (shown below) is really wonderful about patiently advising customers on the different types of skins and what will and won’t work.
• For your first leather garment, take a cue from today’s fashions and only sew a part of the garment in leather. For example, you could make a jersey t-shirt with the sleeves in leather, or a wool dress with just the front yoke in leather. One skin can usually give you two short sleeves or part of a bodice, saving you money on leather.
• Bring your muslin or pattern pieces with you to the leather store so you can lay out your pieces on the skin. Skins vary in size, and you can save several dollars by buying just the right size skin for your needs.
• Use a rotary cutter to cut out your pattern. Use weights to hold your muslin in place as you cut.
• Only sew with leather when you are alert and using all your smarts. Mistakes in leather can be fatal because needle holes show. Set your machine speed to turtle, and think, think, think every step of the way. Remember, you can take in leather seams but you can’t let them out because the stitching holes will sew.
• Seams can be topstitched or pressed open and glued in place with Stitch Witchery or contact cement.
• Leather can be pressed with an iron (press on wrong side of hide) or pounded with a rubber mallet.
• Wonder Clips (Clover) are perfect for holding pieces together in lieu of pins as you stitch. (Pins leave permanent holes.)
• Use a stitch length of about 3.0 for seams, longer for topstitching.
Tools for sewing leather:
• Universal sewing machine leather needles in sizes 90/14 or 100/16 (I’ll admit I’ve used regular sewing machine needles and haven’t had a problem with them)
• Regular nylon or poly thread
• Teflon sewing machine foot (doesn’t get stuck on the leather like a regular foot can)
• Stitch Witchery for adhering seam allowances flat
• Leather glue/contact cement can also be used to hold leather in place
• Rotary cutter (you can cut leather with sharp scissors too)
• Wonder clips from Clover (available at Mood NYC)
• Rubber mallet for flattening seams and other areas
This is Dmitry of Mood’s leather department. Every time I start a new leather project I go to him for tips. He’s incredibly helpful.
Mood is holding a class on learning to sew leather on Monday, November 5, 5:30 p.m., on the Home Decor floor. It’s taught by noted sewing instructor Kenneth D. King, and he’ll let you in on all the ins and outs of working with leather. Click here to register today.
Monday, October 15th, 2012
So much to sew but so little time? Narrow your project list down to the five must-haves to sew for this fall/winter season:
1. Big boxy coat: Fast and easy to make when you don’t have to worry about fit details. Sew it out of Mood’s red cashmere/wool blend coating. (Inspiration: Jil Sander coat, available at Net-a-Porter)
2. Brocade skirt: Rich brocades are super-hot this season. Sew a Mood brocade like this one into a little pencil skirt. (Inspiration: Marni brocade skirt, available at Net-a-Porter)
3. Sweatshirt: Go casual and pair a sweatshirt with jeans or glam it up with sleek leggings and heels. Lace gives it a feminine vibe. Make your sweatshirt out of Mood’s wool jersey. (Inspiration: Vanessa Bruno wool sweatshirt, available at Net-a-Porter)
4. Elegant blouse: We love the versatility of a pussy-bow blouse. It softens up your workwear during the day and then looks chic with jeans or pants for an evening out. Sew your blouse out of Mood’s zebra print silk charmeuse. (Inspiration: Emilio Pucci silk blouse, available at Net-a-Porter)
5. Pants in a print: Whether you prefer a slim pants leg or a wide leg, make your next pair of pants in a print. Solid black pants are just so boring! We like this Carolina Herrera silk brocade for a pair of striking pants. (Inspiration: Malene Birger pants, available at Net-a-Porter)
Friday, July 13th, 2012
Fall 2012 brocade fashions from Carolina Herrera, Rochas, Proenza Schouler
Hey readers, let’s talk about brocade. Brocade is absolutely one of my most favorite fabrics to sew. Quality brocade of silk, silk blends or first-rate polyester is a joy to sew with: It presses neatly, usually has an interesting texture or sheen, and always looks expensive. Brocades can range from a weight suitable for jackets, skirts, dresses and slim pants, then all the way to heavier weights suitable for drapes and upholstery.
Besides being a mellow fabric to sew (excluding the cheap brocades that fray like crazy), the reason brocade is one of my go-to fabrics is that everything I make with it looks great and becomes a favorite piece that I wear year after year. Trust me, that’s not a claim I can make for many of the garments I sew; I still make some real dogs every now and then. Right now I’m thinking about making a pair of slim brocade pants, maybe like these from Stella McCartney:
Stella McCartney slim brocade pants, $965, Saks.
Checking out Mood’s brocades is always fun, because I think we have one of the best selections around.
You could spend a whole day at Mood NYC just trying to decide which brocade to pick. If I need to get work done I make sure I stay away from this part of the store.
If you can’t get to our stores, there is plenty to choose from at MoodFabrics.com, like these two cool brocades:
We have this lightweight gray floral brocade in our stores and online. From Italy, $50/yd. I'm thinking I might use this for my Stella McCartney-style slim pants. Because it's a really chic fabric.
At $14/yd, not as pricey as the brocade above but still really gorgeous is this metallic poly brocade.
I haven’t made fitted pants in awhile, but I’m so tired of wearing jeans all the time that I’m committed to sew more pants this fall and winter. Speaking of, have you started your fall and winter sewing yet? Tell me about it!
Wednesday, June 13th, 2012
All the fashionistas in NYC are buzzing over The Little Black Jacket exhibit that’s in town through this Friday. Have you heard about this exhibit? Karl Lagerfeld and Carine Roitfeld dreamed up the idea when Carine was having a black Chanel jacket custom-made. They gathered up over 100 celebrities, Karl photographed them in versions of the iconic jacket, and voilà, a book and an exhibition was born.
All this hoopla has me obsessing once again about Chanel jackets and being thankful that I can sew my own, since owning a real Chanel jacket could easily cost several thousand dollars. Making one seems to be a right of passage for sewists, many of whom flock to Susan Khalje’s French jacket sewing classes and read everything Claire Shaeffer writes on the subject.
Me, I made a black Chanel-style jacket about four years ago. I like it, but I’m not in love with it (too short in length, gets a little warm to wear for any extended period of time). Time for a do-over! I really like the longer length of Vogue 8804. Yesterday morning at Mood I swatched a piece of black wool bouclé and then played around with some trim and buttons. Half the fun of making a Chanel jacket is picking out the perfect fabric and trim, right?
Italian black wool bouclé from Mood NYC, $35/yd. Toying here with a beaded trim, though I'll probably go with a more traditional braid in the end.
Have you made a Chanel-style jacket? Do you think making one is something that needs to be on every sewist’s life list? What other iconic garments belong on such a list? Tell me here!
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
We just got a huge shipment of "famous American designer" silk prints at the Mood Fabrics NYC store. All the more reason to try your hand at sewing with silk.
Do you suffer from silkaphobia? You know, fear of sewing silks. You can admit it, because this phobia is actually quite common. Just look at all the people who entered our recent silk giveaway, only to comment that they hadn’t sewn silk before because they were afraid of it.
Readers, I also once suffered from silkaphobia. But I got over it and so can you, because silk is too beautiful and classic a fabric not to have in your repertoire. Today I’m sharing a few simple tips that helped me overcome my fear of silk:
Go pick up the excellent fabric guides by Claire Shaeffer and Sandra Betzina: Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide and More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina. Both are great resources.
Invest in real pattern weights like the professionals use. The accuracy of my cutting greatly improved once I bought these weights, which you can find online at sewing supply sources. (Do not, I repeat, do not use food cans to hold down your pattern when you are cutting out silk. Ask me about the lovely ring that’s subtly imprinted on my gray silk-blend jacket.) Heavy weights keep all fabrics, especially slippery fabrics like silks, securely in place when you are cutting.
I love my iron pattern weights! The handle allows you to hold them securely so you don't drop them on your toes (ouch).
In lieu of professional pattern weights and if your silk is shifty, pin your silk in a single layer to tissue paper or other lightweight plain paper. Pin silk to paper around the edges and in the center, but only in places that aren’t a part of your pattern. Pin holes can show and mar your lovely silk.
Use the right needle for your type of silk. This is a mandate for all fabrics but especially so for silks. Test results with a 60/8 needle and polyester thread, not silk thread. A Microtex needle may work well but I often have equally good results with a Universal needle.
The hallmark of a well-made garment is in the pressing, and this holds true for silk. Always use a pressing cloth. I’m partial to my silk organza press cloths, which I made by buying a yard of white silk organza, cutting it into large squares, and then serging the edges. If your iron spits or drips water, empty the water out completely and use a dry iron: Don’t risk water spots. Press your seams flat first to meld the stitches into your silk, then press them open. To prevent show-through ridges from appearing on the right side when pressing seams open, use a wooden seam stick pressing tool like the ones made by Golden Hands.
Test everything first on a large scrap of your silk. Needle, size, stitch length, pressing and marking. Make sure your marking method completely disappears on a scrap before you try it on your garment; plain old chalk may be your best bet.
Plan your seam finish before you sew. I could fill up pages with all the different types of seam finishes you could use on silks. For the silk maxi skirt I just made I sewed French seams, which work best on straight seams with no curves and on lightweight silks. I’ve also hand-overcast my silk seams, and on 4-ply silk I’ve pressed open, stitched close to the edge of the seam, then pinked the edges. Do not serge or zigzag on lighter-weight silks–your machine will be too likely to eat your silks.
Don’t you just hate when you practically have to take your machine apart because your fabric was eaten at the start or end of a seam? Here’s a trick: Begin your seam on a small strip of paper that overlaps with your silk and continue sewing onto the fabric. When you’re done just tear away the paper and knot the thread ends together. Never backstitch to secure a seam; just clip the threads and tie a knot in them and your machine won’t eat your fabric.
Watch how you hold your pieces together when sewing seams. As I mentioned earlier, pins leave holes in silk. If you pin, do so in the seams where the holes won’t show. I keep meaning to try out Clover’s WonderClips; let me know if you’ve used and liked them and I’ll see about stocking them here at Mood.
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I hope these tips make you a little less apprehensive about sewing silks. Silk is such a rich and timeless fabric that I bet you’ll find your handmade silk garments never end up in a bag for Goodwill. Do you have any tips for sewing silk fabrics? Please feel free to share your silk sewing tips here. Thanks!
Tuesday, May 8th, 2012
Inspiration: DVF Hanky Top
Sewing inspiration: I thought something like the DVF top shown above would be the perfect top for the warmer months. It looks breezy-cool to wear and like a breeze to sew. I mean seriously, who wants to be inside sewing on a warm spring or summer day? Not me, so that’s why I gravitate toward fast and simple projects from May through August.
Pattern: Butterick 5463 is a basic tunic pattern that comes close to the unstructured-ness of the DVF inspiration top. I tried View D, with the elbow-length sleeves, and shortened the sleeves and the bodice length.
Fabric: Bright green silk crepe de chine from our store in NYC. Have I mentioned how much I love silk crepe de chine? I swear it’s one of the most versatile fabrics out there. It makes great tops, pants, flowing skirts and linings, and it’s easier (I think) to work with than silk charmeuse. We have silk crepe de chine in all colors in our NYC and LA stores, and tons more at Moodfabrics.com.
Butterick 5463 in green silk crepe de chine; paired with a turquoise necklace.
I love it when minimal effort delivers maximum results. The finished top was easy to sew, fits me perfectly, and the color is flattering and looks fantastic with jeans of all colors, especially white. I’m calling it the “Ann top,” after Ann in our silk department. (Originally I was going to make this out of a gray silk crepe de chine, but Ann persuaded me to go with the green and I’m so glad she did.)
Do you have any favorite top patterns for the spring and summer? Have you ever made a top out of silk crepe de chine? Leave a comment here because we’d love to hear from you!
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Save 15% on Mother’s Day gift cards! If I didn’t already work here I’d want my family to get me a gift card from Mood Fabrics for Mother’s day. Seriously, what a great gift for fabric-holics like us. Hurry, the fifteen percent savings on online gift cards only lasts until this Thursday, 11:59 pm ET. (Online only; not available in stores.)
Tuesday, May 1st, 2012
10 Crosby Derek Lam Maxi Skirt, available at Shopbop.
Lately I’ve been seeing maxi skirts everywhere in New York City, on stylish women of all ages. So of course now I’m craving one for myself and may make this my next sewing project. Let’s look at pattern possibilities…
- Vogue 1310 Chado Ralph Rucci: The draping of this maxi skirt is to die for. A person could look like a slender column in this pattern. I think I’d shorten it so it doesn’t sweep the floor (not really practical for running up and down the stairs here at Mood NYC).
- McCalls 6567 or Butterick 5757: Nice basic patterns, easy elastic waists, look like they could be swishy enough and would work well in a number of fabrics
- Simplicity 4188: A yoked waistband and multiple panels make for a very swirly skirt. Soft wovens like silk would work well with it.
- Burda 7553: Very similar to the Derek Lam skirt above.
Now for fabric possibilities…
. That’s where it gets a little harder, only because there are so many good choices. Today I left my office on Mood’s lower level and went upstairs to the main floor to see what fabrics struck me. At first I thought silk jersey
, for sure, because it drapes so well and feels great to wear. But then I wandered by our bamboo knits
and fell in love with their soft hand. I grabbed Ann in our silk department to ask which fabrics she’d recommend for a maxi skirt: “Crepe de chine
or washed silk
,” she suggested. Oy, so many choices. But then she pulled out this silk and lycra blend, shown below, and I was all “Eureka! That’s it!”
A silk-and-lycra blend that would make a stunning maxi skirt. Available at Mood NYC for $35/yard.
I think a maxi skirt made out of this fabric and paired with a white shirt and black or dark accessories could look so chic. What do you think? Too bold? Or perfect for a summer day?
Tips for sewing a maxi skirt: Well, not a whole lot, actually, because I think sewing a maxi skirt should be purposely simple and easy. Choose a fabric that drapes well and doesn’t need a lining, and that’s half the battle. Do a simple machine-stitched narrow hem, finish seams as appropriate for your fabric, and that’s it. Wear and enjoy!
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Shop our COLOR EXPLOSION sale happening now! We’ve discounted all our colorful fashion fabric by 20% at Mood Fabrics online. Save now through Thursday 5/3/12 11:59 p.m. (Excludes black or white solids, prints in black & white, all home decor fabrics, codes starting in PV, and dressforms. Online only.)
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Check back here again on Friday, when we visit with Danyce of our Home department for Favorite Fabric Friday. See you then!