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Sewing Tips

  • Faux Fur: Use and Care

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    Faux Fur: Use and Care

    Autumn is here, and with the scarves and long coats, the fashion world also brings faux fur! Faux fur is an excellent alternative to real fur products, and it’s an exciting and unique way to spruce up a garment. Plus, probably my favorite thing about it, is that it keeps you warm in chilly winds and temperatures. I’m sure you’ve heard, though, that faux fur is a bit of a hassle, huh? It’s true that damaging it is very easy to do, but it’s just as easy to take care of and avoid those damages! Faux fur needs a little more effort than other everyday fabrics and garments, but if you take care of it, it can last you a long time. Caring for your faux fur garments helps maintain the its intended look: the sheen, the fluffy quality, and the colors will all last a lot longer if you take certain measures when caring for your garment and avoid other measures. Improper care can lead to actual damage of the fur fibers and can ruin the intended look of the fur with things like mats and clumped piles of fur. You don’t want that! And so, we’ve compiled key tips and rules for faux fur maintenance and care for your convenience down below, from storage to cleaning to sewing!

    Rules for Faux Fur Storage

    First up is storing your faux fur. A few things to avoid when storing, whether it's attached to a garment or not: It’s very important to store your fur where it can stay dry and away from humidity. Faux fur CAN get wet since it’s not real and it’s typically made with synthetic fibers, but humidity can still make it frizz, which won’t look good! Packing faux fur garments in something like a garment bag or container is ideal. It will flatten if it is packed between other garments too tightly, and you want the fur to keep it’s fluffy volume and look! So even if you can’t get a container or garment bag for it, make sure the fur has room to breathe! And lastly, do NOT store your faux fur somewhere that has light or sunlight constantly. Over-exposure to sunlight can cause discoloration to any fabrics, and it can ruin the fabric fibers, too. So make sure your it is safely tucked away in the dark until you’re ready to wear it again!

    Faux Fur Maintenance and Cleaning

    We know we have a long list of important details for maintenance here, but they all are necessary! There are three sections for cleaning faux fur: weekly care, machine washing, and spot-washing. Weekly Care  When it comes to weekly care, there isn’t much more to do so long as you keep up on the storage rules, but there is the weekly brushing that you should keep up on, especially if you wear your garments often. Using a soft-bristled brush, brush the fur WITH the grain gently. Brushing your faux fur helps to remove surface-level dirt and debris build-up and remove and prevent matting of the fibers. This keeps it looking nicer for longer without having to wash it! You should also smooth your hand over the fur to make sure it lies naturally after you brush it. You can do this as necessary, or once a week is fine! Washing and Cleaning In contrast to real fur fabrics, it is possible to wash faux fur fabrics and garments, but you still shouldn’t do it more than necessary. With real fur, both water and heat will damage the product, but faux fur is made of synthetic fibers, so water doesn’t damage it, but heat still does. Avoid using heat on your furs (with one exception being steaming, but we’ll get to that in a bit). MACHINE WASHING It is safe to wash your faux furs in the washing machine. However, you need to change a couple of things before just tossing your garment in to the wash: Turn the garment inside-out! This helps reduce friction and agitation on your fur fabrics and it will help them last longer. Wash the garment in cool or cold water settings with a gentle detergent. Remember, we want to remove heat from the process as much as possible. This also helps to prevent the faux fur piles from frizzing. And using a gentle detergent will keep the fibers from matting. This also means no dryers! Period. Don’t even think about it. You’ll regret it if you dry your faux fur in a dryer, even on low heat. It doesn’t ever turn out well. Clumps and matts galore. And no amount of brushing will ever get them out. With that said, air-drying is a must! Hang your garment up somewhere dry and warm so it can dry out safely. So in a shorter summary, when washing faux fur/garments, turn garment inside out, machine wash with cold water and gentle detergent, then air dry. SPOT-CLEANING If you’re worried about the possibility of your machine ruining your faux fur or if your machine doesn’t have the above settings available, you can also use spot-cleaning to take care of stains on your garments! Spot-cleaning is great for exactly that—spots that need cleaning when the rest of the garment is fine otherwise, and it should be used as needed before going to machine washing. To spot-clean your faux fur garment, you’ll need a washcloth, warm water (note: NOT HOT!) to soak the washcloth in and clean with, and gentle detergent. This method is more for general use (i.e. don’t except pen to come out easily!) and should be used as soon as possible after the stain is made to improve chances of lifting the stain. Take your washcloth and soak it in the warm water and put a drop of the gentle detergent on a wet spot. Scrub the washcloth together first to agitate the soap—you don’t want to just drop detergent onto the garment. Use the soapy spot and, in small gentle circles, try to scrub out the stain. Only use more effort to scrub if there isn’t any improvement in lifting the stain. You want to avoid leaving any detergent residue if possible. Once you have lifted the stain, use a clean and still wet part of the wash cloth and wipe at the area to remove any lingering detergent. Let it air dry and you’re all done! Another spot-cleaning method is specifically for removing odors around the under-arm areas of faux fur garments (it applies to most fabrics in general, too!). Steaming this area of a garment helps remove bacteria which cause the odors, so keep this in mind if you’re ever trying to clean here! WEARING FAUX FUR Just a few things to keep in mind when wearing faux furs: unlike real furs, faux furs CAN get wet, but it doesn’t mean they should. It’s best to keep it dry whenever possible. Snow and rain won’t ruin it, but use an umbrella when possible to protect the furs. Same thing goes for humidity. Humid weather (y’know, those gross, cold, rainy days?) risks frizzing for faux furs, so make sure to let it dry out at home and brush it after to help it look like itself again!

    Sewing with Faux Fur

    And lastly, we wanted to go over a list of things to keep in mind when sewing with faux fur. It can be intimidating at first, but knowing the details listed below will help you feel more confident to tackle a project using furs. It’s not hard once you know the precautions you should take! Your tool belt for working with faux fur should include a soft-bristled brush, a pattern pen or marker, hand-sewing needles, thread, and a razor/box cutter/X-acto knife. Scissors are NOT on the list intentionally! They cut the fur piles and ruin the fur. CHOOSING YOUR FAUX FUR When choosing which faux fur to use, keep the nap, or the direction the fur goes, in mind when designing your project and pattern. You want all of your fur to lay the same way in the final product! You should also consider how thick of a  fabric you’d like to use. The thicker the fur piles, the harder it is to put it through the machine—it’ll be like sewing multiple layers instead of just two because of all the fur piles. If you’re working with fur for the first time, consider a lower pile to start with. CUTTING YOUR FAUX FUR When it comes to cutting your pattern out you must do these things: work with your fur flat and with the backing facing towards you. You want to be able to trace your pattern on the backing of your fabric—on the wrong side. Trace your pattern using a pattern pencil or marker, and give yourself a ½” seam allowance. Because of the bulky fur piles and thick layers, your seams might not come out as straight or clean as you’re used to (this is okay!) You also need to cut your faux fur fabrics without scissors and instead use a razor of some kind (listed above). When cutting faux fur correctly, you do not cut through the layer entirely—you only cut the backing fabric, like this: Cutting the fabric like this prevents the piles from being cut, and the fur is able to separate nicely and without being damaged. If you just bluntly cut through the faux fur, you'll get a piece looking like this: And that's not what you want! SEWING YOUR FAUX FUR Another very important, and possibly the most time-consuming, step in working with faux fur is hand-basting your seams to keep your edges lined up correctly. Remember that you’re working with big layers here, so basting with a hand-needle is crucial for preventing your pattern pieces and fabrics from sliding around. When you hand-baste, sew a running stitch and put the needle straight through the fabric layers—don’t do it at an angle. Keeping the straight stitches helps the fabric keep still better. Using longer stitches is best for working with faux fur. Somewhere between 2.5-3 for the stitch length is good. Remember to keep the ¼”- ½” seam allowance on all of your pieces, too. And if you’re sewing a lighter-weight fabric to your fur layer, keep the lighter-weight fabric on top when putting it through a machine. This prevents the lighter fabric from bunching up or getting caught in the machine like it would if you ran it through the machine underneath the fur. After each seam you sew, use a brush and free any fur piles that get caught in the seams (you can brush them out of the way before pinning them down and sewing them, too). You should also trim your seam allowances down to ¼” to reduce bulk from the faux fur layers.   And that’s it! There was a lot of information, but thinking about it as a whole, it’s just a bunch of little stuff that will come naturally to you after taking care of your faux fur and working with it a few times. Did you see any tips that you hadn’t known about before? What’s your favorite part about faux fur, or working with it? Let us know!
  • All About Presser Feet

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    All About Presser Feet

    We're back with another guide, and this time we're focusing on presser foot attachments! One of the most important pieces to any sewing machine and project, presser feet come in a variety of types and just as many functions. Knowing how each one works, and what ones are available for your use, can save you a lot of time and struggle as well as improve your experience working through your project! Take a scroll down below to check out the different kinds available, from standard pieces to specialty ones!  

    All About Presser Feet | Universal FootUniversal Foot

    An all-purpose and standard presser foot that is included with every sewing machines upon purchase. This foot is your basic foot, and it can be used for some decorative stitches in addition to both straight and zigzag stitches.               All About Presser Feet | Zipper Foot

    Zipper Foot

    Zipper Feet are a necessary investment for anyone who wants to get into fashion sewing, because it just makes installing zippers so much less of a hassle. Zipper Feet are designed in a way that allows you to get a clean stitch as close to the zipper teeth as possible and as cleanly as possible. Technically speaking, you could install a zipper with a Universal Foot, but it is difficult and there’s the risk of getting a messy or uneven stitch along the zipper, or the stitch is too far away from the edge of the teeth and the zipper will be too visible. The difference is noticeable, trust me. Plus, using a Zipper Foot helps ensure that the zipper will work properly after installation.  

    All About Presser Feet | Button Hole FootButton Hole Foot

    There are a few different types of Button Hole Feet, but their main purpose is to ensure uniform installation of buttons on your garment quickly and easily. This type of foot is useful if you enjoy making button up shirts, skirts, dresses, or anything that closes with buttons. With the Mood Brand Lia Sewing Machine, a Button Hole Foot is included with the initial purchase, and it is designed to automatically install the size button hole you need to fit your buttons onto your garment. It's really convenient!

           

    All About Presser Feet | Blind Hem Foot

    Blind Hem Foot

    A Blind Hem Foot creates a nearly invisible hem on your garment. A blind hem is useful when sewing projects such as curtains, dress or skirts, shirts--anything where you'd like the hem to be as hidden as possible. It is important to note, however, that in addition to a Blind Hem Foot, a machine also needs to be capable of using a blind hem stitch setting for your sewing machine to stitch the blind hem. If your machine already comes with one or is compatible with the Blind Hem Foot for your service provider, this shouldn't be an issue.        

    All About Presser Feet | Overlock Foot

    Overlock Foot

    Over-locking Feet are great for when you’re finishing hems or seams made from knits and woven fabrics. If you don’t have a serger available for your project or using one won’t work for what you’re making, an Over-locking Foot might just be the ticket you need. It’s a great alternative, and it helps clean up and lock in your seam edges on slippery and loose knit and woven fabrics.

             

    All About Presser Feet | Invisible Zipper Foot

    Invisible Zipper Foot

    This type of foot is considered a specialty presser  foot, though if you install invisible zippers often, you might consider it as basic as your Universal and regular Zipper Feet! Invisible Zipper Feet are used to install invisible zippers quick and easy. The presser foot actually sits right on top of the zipper as it guides through, and so the needle is able to sew as close to the zipper teeth as safely possible (which is what you want!). It’s incredibly handy, as most invisible zippers cannot be properly installed without this type of foot. Invisible zippers are great on garments like dresses, skirts, suit pants, or other pieces where you’d like the zipper to be hidden from sight.

     

    All About Presser Feet | Edgestitch FootEdge-stitching Foot

    The Edge-stitching Foot is kind of like the Blindstitch Foot in that it’s used on the edge of a hem, but this presser foot’s purpose is to produce clean, perfect top-stitching for your project. I personally love top-stitching and the decorative appeal it has, so I’m a huge advocate of this specialty foot! Top-stitching is really nice on coats and dresses, but you can also use top-stitching on things like shirts, pockets, or accessories (like scarves or leg warmers!).

           

    All About Presser Feet | Ope-Toe Embroidery FootOpen-Toe Embroidery Foot

    The Open-Toe Embroidery Foot is a specialty foot for the practiced embroiderer. Its design is labeled as “open” because it’s easy to see where your stitching path is going underneath the presser foot. Because of this design, this type of presser foot is used for more free-form embroidery. If you have steady hands and trust your own guidance to do the job, give this presser foot a try! An Open-Toe Embroidery Foot is great for securing edges, applying more complex top-stitching designs, and sewing curves.

         

    All About Presser Feet | Pintuck FootPintuck Foot

    The Pintuck Foot is one variety of sewing feet which uses the double needle attachment on a sewing machine, and the grooved plate it uses comes in four plate styles—3, 5, 7, and 9-grooved. These different plates produce a range of pintucked designs and provide a nice variety to choose from and use on your project. Pintucks are commonly used on shirts and skirts, but they also look nice on things like baby garments.

           

    All About Presser Feet | Jeans FootJeans Foot

    The Jeans Foot is great if you enjoy sewing jeans or working with other heavier types of fabrics similar to denims. Using it helps you sew clean, straight seams when working with those heavier fabrics!

                 

    All About Presser Feet | Straight Stitch FootStraight Stitch Foot

    Straight Stitch Feet are wonderful specialty equipment for using with fine cottons and shirtings if you’re struggling with the fabric getting caught in your machine’s throat plate while using shorter stitch settings. When combined with a straight stitch plate, it keeps your fabric safe from getting caught up and allows you to move through your project without a hitch.  

             

    All About Presser Feet | Nonstick FootNonstick Foot

    This is another specialty foot that’s handy when sewing with sticky-type fabrics like leather, faux leather, and vinyl! These types of fabrics can cause friction on metal sewing machine feet, making it difficult to guide your fabrics through smoothly. This can set you back in your project, and if you've ever worked with faux leather or vinyl before, you know that once the needle goes though, the puncture shows up forever! So going with a Nonstick Foot can be really helpful! They're are often made of Teflon which prevents the friction between the fabric and the foot. Useful, right? It would be really good to look into purchasing one if you plan to work with these kinds of fabrics in the future!  

     

    All About Presser Feet | Patchwork FootPatchwork Foot

    A great tool for when you’re quilting or need to work around exact seams, this specialty presser foot helps you maintain consistent ¼” designs and top-stitching. It’s often advertised to quilters and sewers who enjoy patchwork projects (hence the name), but it's also useful for smaller crafts like doll clothing or smaller, decorative stitches on shirts.

               

    All About Presser Feet | Rolled Hemmer FootRolled Hemmer Foot

    A Rolled Hemmer Foot is a presser foot where using it allows you to easily and quickly sew up rolled hems for your garments. The rolled hem guides underneath the foot itself and keeps it steady as it slides through so the sewing needle can sew a neat and clean stitch for the hem.

               

    All About Presser Feet | Fell FootFell Foot

    This specialty presser foot makes sewing a felled seam a breeze! If you’re not sure what a felled seam looks like, click here to check out our guide on seams: All About Sewing Seams! Some manufacturers produce different types of Fell Presser Feet that allow you to finish your seam at different widths, but not all manufacturers provide this option.

               

    All About Presser Feet | Walking FootWalking Foot

    Walking Feet are great for when you’re working with fabric, or fabrics, that risk moving around too much during the sewing process. Working with fabrics like knits or layered pieces like during quilting projects can be frustrating, as knits stretch too easily and layers might move around without the proper support under an option like the Universal Foot. With a Walking Foot, its wide, steady plate ensures that your fabric or project behaves as you guide it through, and you’ll spend less time correcting mistakes and your patience because of it!    

     

    All About Presser Feet | Gathering FootGathering Foot

    And lastly, the Gathering Foot! This nifty little presser foot is great for when you want to gather fabric for a part of your project. The presser foot does all of the hard work for you and produces lovely gathered sections of fabric that you feed through it. It’s also unique in that it allows you to sew a piece of fabric you want to keep flat to a piece of fabric that you want gathered—it does two jobs at once! Fabric that is fed underneath the presser foot piece stays flat while fabric that goes through the piece itself gets gathered.               Did you learn anything new about presser feet from our guide? Perhaps about a presser foot you hadn't known about yet? We hope you did--perhaps you found the presser foot you've been looking for to finish that project! Or start a new one! Sewing machine and presser feet accessories have come a long way. Make sure to try out a few and expand your sewing expertise, and don't forget to share what you learn with us!  

    All About Presser Feet

  • All About Sewing Seams

    types of sewing seams

     

    All About Sewing Seams

    Need a refresher on the different types of seams at your disposal? Or maybe you’re starting out and doing research to better acquaint yourself with your machine and your project? This guide is here to help! Below is a list of some of the most commonly used types of seams and how you can use them, so you can get back to your project with the confidence and knowledge you need to make it the best you can!  

    types of sewing seams plainPlain Seam

    This type of seam is the most basic in the sewing trade, and it’s the simplest. A Plain Seam is identified as a seam that is stitched between two pieces of fabrics, right sides together. Whether you’re using a straight stitch, zigzag, or something else, so long as the seam consists of two raw edges lined up with the right sides together and are sewn down, you are looking at a Plain Seam. They can be used in almost any project, and they can be finished in a variety of ways by pressing flat and then trimming with pinking shears, overlocking/serging the raw edges, using zigzag stitching, and more. Plain Seams are best used for thinner fabrics and looser garments, like flowing t-shirts and blouses.  

    Double-Stitched Seamtypes of sewing seams Double Stitched Seam

    A Double-Stitched Seam is like a Plain Seam, but a second Plain Seam is sewn between the first and the raw edges of the seam allowance in order to provide a stronger seam for the fabrics being sewn together as well as better keep the fabric from fraying. This type of seam is great for giving a little extra hold to those lighter shirts and other flexible pieces, but it can also be used on garments like pants and jackets being made with lighter-weight fabrics.  

    types of sewing seams Top Stitched SeamTop-Stitched Seam

    Top-Stitched Seams are typically straight stitch seams that are visible from the right side of the fabric. These seams are sewn on top of the right side of the fabric and are used for both practical and decorative purposes, but the main function is to reduce bulk from the seam allowance underneath. Top-stitching might seem intimidating, but lining the presser foot up to the edge that you’re guiding to makes it very easy! You can use top-stitching on any project, from curtains to blankets to pockets on the front of a shirt, and you can take advantage of the thread’s visibility to add in a subtle flash of color with a different colored thread from the rest of the garment!  

    Double Top-Stitched Seamtypes of sewing seams Double Top Stitched

    Like a Top-Stitched Seam, but completed a second time. These types of seams are more secure than a Top-Stitched Seam alone and allow the bulk from the seam allowance to be distributed more evenly, providing an even smoother finish. Double Top-Stitched Seams are often used for blanket edges and pocket borders, or something similar both to help strengthen the project’s “high-traffic areas” and stabilize shape. It can look really sharp, too!  

    types of sewing seams French SeamsFrench Seam

    French Seams are very flattering visually, both on the inside and outside of the garment. This is a seam where the wrong sides of the fabric edges are sewn together and are then tucked between the right sides and sewn down again so that the raw edges are tucked away and smooth (think like a long, thin pocket for the first seam to sit in). This leaves both the right and wrong sides of the seam looking clean and finished. French seams are often used with thin fabrics, but they can also be used when garments or pieces that will not have a lining, such as a bag or shirt. If you’d like to see more details on how to install A French Seam, follow this link here!  

    Mock French Seamtypes of sewing seams Mock French Seam

    A Mock French Seam is exactly what it sounds like—it’s done a little differently than a French Seam, but the end result looks very similar. This type of seam is a Plain Seam that is finished by pressing the seam allowance flat and then folding the raw edges in, ironing them again, and finally sewing the seam allowance edges together with another Plain Seam to give the appearance of a French Seam. Installing a Mock French Seam takes a little more effort and ironing than a regular French Seam, but it saves on thread, which is useful if you're doing a large garment or using lots of seams! It’s also useful if you don’t have enough seam allowance or fabric to wrap around the first Plain Seam a second time like a French Seam calls for.  

    types of sewing seams Flat FelledFlat Felled Seam

    Flat Felled Seams are seams where a Plain Seam is first used to sew a right and wrong side together, and then the edges are tucked into each other in a way that locks them in, and is then sewn down again with another Plain Seam along the other side of the seam’s width. This is another great method for hiding and protecting the raw edges from exposure, and it leaves the seam looking clean and tidy. It is also the strongest type of seam and a method that should be used on heavier fabrics that need more security to hold them together, such as side seams pants or jeans. High-traffic areas and points of stress on garments need a little more strength, so keep Flat Felled Seams in mind!  

    Welt Seamtypes of sewing seams Welt

    This type of seam is similar to a Top-Stitched Seam, but it skips the step of straight-stitching. In this type of seam, the right sides are facing together, the raw edge of one piece of fabric is folded under, and then a Plain Seam is sewn as a Top-Stitch above where the raw edge is tucked under to help lock in the raw edge onto the right side of the other piece of fabric. This type of stitch is stronger than Plain Seams and is another good choice when working with heavier fabrics and garments like bags and pants.  

    types of sewing seams Double WeltDouble Welt Seam

    Similar to a Welt Seam, the Double Welt Seam is a seam where you sew down a Welt Seam and then sew a top-stitch seam onto the folded edge to help reduce the bulk of the seam and keep it from popping back up. This second seam helps to stabilize the first one and it provides an appealing border along the seam’s edge.      

    Slot Seamtypes of sewing seams Slot

    Slot Seams are best used for decorative projects like upholstery or crafting due to the fact that it allows for the addition of accenting fabrics and colors. These seams start with a Plain Seam to baste two pieces of fabric together and is followed by sewing the right side of a contrasting strip of fabric along the right side of the raw edges of the seam allowance from the basting seam on both sides, and then the basting seam is ripped so that the contrasting fabric is visible. This type of seam is as strong as a Double-Stitched Seam and has a primarily decorative purpose, but if styled smart, it can make a nice contour on a jacket or pair of pants.  

    types of sewing seams CordedCorded Seam

    Corded Seams have a similar purpose that Slot Seams do, but instead of flashing off a contrasting fabric, Corded Seams highlight corded trim that you use between two layers of fabric in the seam. It is sewn by layering cording between two layers of a fabric, right sides together, and sewing a Plain Seam underneath the cording so that the cording is visible from the right side of the garment but the stitching and seam are not. This type of seam is great for adding decoration on edges of pillows or different types of bags, or for contouring a garment. Good places for Corded Seams on garments would be places our wat to accentuate, for example, shoulders, necklines, etc.  

    Bias Bound Seamtypes of sewing seams Bias Bound

    And lastly, Bias Bound Seams. Bias Bound Seams take a little bit of patience, but so long as you sew right along their shape, they usually come out looking clean and crisp. The design is fairly simple, too; these types of seams are ones where the raw edges of the seam are covered by bias tape to help protect and keep the edges from being damaged or stressed. A Plain Seam is used to bring the two pieces of fabric together, and then bias tape is used to cover both raw edges together as one or on each of the two raw edges separately. A Plain Seam is used to close the bias tape around the raw edges, and you have the option of pressing the two edges flat and away from each other should you need to cut down on bulk (this is only an option if you use bias tape on the raw edges separately). Regardless of which you choose to do, this type of seam leaves a clean look on the inside of the fabric and does not affect the outside. This method is often used on dresses and other garments that will go without linings.       Was this guide helpful to you? Did you read about any seams in this article that you hadn’t known about previously? These are just a handful of seam options, but they’re some of the more traditional ones around, so consider using them in your sewing repertoire!

     types of sewing seams

  • Mood DIY: How to Sew a Reversible Bomber Jacket

    diy sewing floral bomber jacket

     As summer slowly fades into fall, I've been thinking a lot about how I have very few jackets at the moment. Which is a shame, because I love jackets. They're a requirement for the fall in NYC, plus they 're an extra layer of style for that perfect autumn outfit. Because of this thought process, I concluded that I needed a reversible jacket. Because why not have a bright, vibrant side for those otherwise monochromatic ensembles, as well as a minimalist chic side for everyday wear.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    To create a pattern, I simply traced a hoodie I had lying around, to make sure I had my sizing right, and then altered it just a bit. The main change was the collar. The front needed a more drastic angle at the neckline, almost like a v-neck, since I'd be adding a rib knit collar. Other than that, I added a dart at the bust, and widened the bottom a bit, since my hoodie was knit and I'd be using non-stretch fabrics for my jacket.

    bomber jacket pattern

    Fabric and materials used:

    There are plenty of bomber jacket patterns that you could easily alter; McCalls M7100 and Burda 7142 for example. Essentially all it takes to make your jacket reversible is to disregard everything your pattern says about lining. We'll the making two full jackets and attaching them at the collar, wrists, and waistband.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    To start, I began constructing my jacket as I normally would - sewing the bust darts, attaching the shoulders and adding the sleeves. Right around here, I realized I needed pockets. What's a jacket without pockets?

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    I decided to sew them into the side seams, since that's the easiest and would create the least amount of bulk (remember: we're making this twice, so we don't want any crazy pockets that might bunch up). If you're unfamiliar with adding pockets to patterns, check out my tutorial here.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    This is where things start to change up. I made the jacket again, this time with basic black lining. To attach it to the floral lining, I first sewed on the collar. Mood's striped rib knit only has stripes toward one side, so I kept that side toward the black lining. This created a cool sporty vibe that has been trending recently.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    Next was connecting the sleeves and waistband. This is slightly different than the collar. Remember how I widened the bottoms of my pattern pieces? That was to give myself some room to gather my fabric when attaching it to the knit. This, paired with a small zigzag stitch, ensured that the rib knit would be able to stretch when/if it needs to.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    Now the only openings in the jacket were where the zipper would be inserted, so I turned everything right-side out. You can see above that the knit was being a bit wonky; after a good ironing, it stayed crisp and perfect.

    sewing reversible bomber jacket

    Lastly, I just needed to insert my zipper.  Really, I think making my jacket reversible was easier than making it normal. There were no extra facings or interlinings to worry about!

    DSC_0426

    So tell me: will you be making your own reversible jacket? What fabrics and color palettes will you be choosing?

    DSC_0427 DSC_0431 DSC_0436

  • All About Interfacing

    9.7.16_email_v1 In a word, interfacing is used for stabilizing. It's an important part of many sewing projects, especially in garments. As the name interfacing (or interlining, as it's sometimes called) implies, it usually goes between layers of fashion fabric, where it provides invisible support. You'll most often use it for one of three purposes:
    • Adding body (such as in a collar or waistband)
    • Adding reinforcement (such in areas of beading or embroidery)
    • Stabilizing a stretch fabric (reducing or completely eliminating stretch)

    Uses

    Let's go through the list above.

    1. Body

    Think of the cuffs of a button down shirt. They have some stiffness, right? That's courtesy of interfacing. Most of the time you use interfacing it's going to be for collars, cuffs, and waistbands. Even if using a naturally crisp or heavy material, you will need interfacing in structural areas so that they are less limp than the rest of your garment. It's all about relative body.

    Similarly, interfacing can add structure to bags, costumes, or any other architectural detail. Say you want a silk evening clutch. Made out of only cloth, it would be like a pocket. It would sag and distort when you put things in it. Interfacing is what gives a purse the ability to hold a shape.

    2. Reinforcement

    Interfacing is used to reinforce areas of fabric that are cut/punctured in some way, or that have weight pulling on it—any area in which fabric might be stressed. The interfacing will reinforce the fabric so that it won't tear. You'll sometimes find it in button plackets on shirts, and you will always find it behind embroidery or beading.

    3. Stabilizing stretch 

    Even stretch garments have structure, and knit interfacing (which is mildly stretchy) will reinforce areas that fabric might need help holding a shape (such as around a neckline). You can also use woven interfacing to completely eliminate stretch, when necessary. (For example, if putting a zipper in a knit fabric, you must reinforce the seam with interfacing. Or if making a bag, which must be rigid, you can interface stretch fabric to make it suitable.)

    Types

    There are several levels to navigate in selecting the proper interfacing. There are a lot of options but don't worry, choosing the right interfacing pretty common sense. The basic rule of thumb is, match your fabric.

     interfacing

    In a nutshell, first you decide whether you want fusible or sew-in. The difference is just what it sounds like. One irons onto your fabric, the other doesn't. In most cases, which one you choose is just a matter of personal preference. Next, do you want woven, non-woven, or knit? A 4-way knit fabric requires a 4-way knit fusible, if you want to maintain stretch. Otherwise, again, which you choose is basically a matter of preference. (Non-woven is ideal for things like appliqués, because you don't need to mind a grain line. This allows you to turn a shape any direction on the fusible fabric in order to get the best fit, when cutting.) Warp-insert and weft-insert fusibles are somewhere in between woven and knit. They are knit fabrics that have had stabilizing fibers added in one direction, making them 2-way stretch. Warp-insert interfacing has crosswise stretch; weft-insert has lengthwise stretch. You can use these interfacings on non-stretch woven fabrics; they are a common, versatile choice. Lastly, choose the appropriate weight. Most types of interfacing come in multiple weights. Choose according to the weight of the fabric you're using and whether you need a soft drape or a stiff drape. (Wovens tend to be stiffer; knit-based interfacings tend to be softer.) In craft or home decor purposes, choose according to your desired finished product. (For example, if making a belt, you'll want a heavy weight. If ironing an appliqué onto a cotton voile shirt, you'll want lightweight, so that it drapes with the cloth and doesn't create a hard patch.) There are a few specialty materials, such as buckram and tear-away stabilizer. Buckram is essentially an open weave canvas that has been treated with stiffener. This allows it to have a rigid body without being thick or heavy. Buckram is used in millinery but is also suitable for bags, etc. Tear-away interfacing is essentially a paper that is used to stabilize embroidery; you just tear away the excess when finished, saving you from a lot of fussy trimming.

    Notes

    This post covers common types of materials produced for interfacing, but in sewing, the task of interfacing can be accomplished with many materials. There are goat/horsehair canvases (commonly used in tailoring), you can use regular old muslin, and sometimes even using an extra layer of your self fabric is fine. If sewing something sheer, you'll probably use organza or organdy.

    ◊ ◊ ◊

    Here are some kinds of interfacing in action, so that you can see the effect they have on fabric.
    The interfacings I used. The interfacings I used.
    I've used the same lightweight cotton for each demo. On the left is un-interfaced fabric. On the right is the swatch with interfacing.
    Weft Weft (med. weight)
    Warp (med. weight) Warp (med. weight)
    water jet loom (lightweight) water jet loom (lightweight)
    non-woven fusible (lightweight) non-woven fusible (lightweight)
    IMG_0300 Cotton woven (med-heavy, stiff hand)
    Cotton woven Cotton woven (same as above)
    Buckram Buckram (medium weight)
    You can see how the drape of the cotton is unchanged with the lightest interfacings, has just slightly more body with the medium, and ranges from stiff to outright creaseable with the heavyweights. Below is an example (on a swatch of twill) of how tearaway works:
    Tear-away stabilizer Tear-away stabilizer
    IMG_0292     That's it! Go forth and interface! As a bonus, my photography partner today:
    I call this one, "Foregone Nostalgia." I call this one, "Foregone Nostalgia."
  • A Review of the Mood Brand Lia Sewing Machine

    DSC_0324

    I’ve been sewing for over a little over a decade now, and with the new and more advanced ideas I’ve been looking into, I figured that it’s about time I start looking for an upgrade from the sewing machine I have now. I’ve been doing research for a while, looked into the common brand names like Singer, but nothing was really jumping out at me. I’m not huge on embroidery (yet?), and it seems like a lot of the more advanced options out there cater to things like embroidery and quilting. I’m interested in fashion and clothing making, so I was having a tough time finding a good fit to move on to. I was still floating around in the sea of options when a friend suggested that I try the new sewing machine Mood Fabrics was producing (link here!). I was impressed to hear that they were making their own machine and looked into it immediately. I was pleasantly surprised by what I had found; I’d finally tracked down a machine that fit what I had been looking for! My first sewing machine was my Brother LS-1217. I received it from an instructor when I first started sewing 11 years ago, and it’s still going strong. I’m partial to it since I’ve had it so long, but it does have its limitations. It’s not possible to do complicated stitching on this machine model, and it’s very difficult to find parts for it in my area. I use mostly zigzag and straight stitches, so it’s really only been good for basic stuff. I love it to pieces, but I want to do more. I want a machine that is more accessible in terms of availability, repair (though hopefully I won’t need it), and parts selection. I also have a Platts machine that I inherited from a family friend. Since it’s such a huge jump from the Brother I’ve been working with, I have to say I’ve been a little intimated to even touch it! I hear it’s a great machine for embroidery, and it’s got a very positive  reputation, but I just don’t think I’m at that level yet. It has the complexity that experts look for, but I’ve only been working with a basic unit. I needed something a little less intense--a middle ground--and that's where Mood came in!

    DSC_0327

    The Mood Brand Lia Sewing Machine is the best of all three worlds of sewing machine expertise—Novice, Intermediate, and Expert.

    DSC_0323

    Its initial appearance is compact and sharp; it has basic functions clearly labeled and defined, and all the functioning pieces are hidden away while you work—even the thread holder and tension wheel. It’s an easy start-up, too; even without the manual next to me, I was able to figure out how the machine needed to be threaded from the simple arrow guides labeled on the machine (it was actually more similar to my Brother machine than any Singer I’ve dealt with). It doesn’t look intimidating either; it won’t scare off those who are just starting out with too many options and buttons to keep in mind. On my Platts machine, there’s about 50 buttons just for stitch types alone on the face of the machine, and I honestly still can’t figure out how to thread the thing—I never get to the needle successfully. For the intermediate learner, the accessories that come with the machine as well as the ones available for purchase help open the many doors that the machine offers. The machine is capable of doing embroidery and quilting, but it doesn't drop all of those options into your lap the minute you sit down in front of it—and I really like that. The manual that comes with the product explains the settings for those more advanced steps, but it doesn't bombard you with buttons on the face of the machine. The LCD display on the machine is small and inviting, and it contains all of those extra stitches, but you won’t find them unless you’re looking for them which is really good for users who aren’t at that step. And of course, when the user does feel comfortable to move to the more advanced options, they’re there and waiting. All of them.

    DSC_0324

    Something that really stood out to me about the Mood sewing machine is the consideration that was put into its functionality for the user. It has a few updated features I hadn’t even thought of before, like the auto-sewing button and a speed-control dial. I’ve made a lot of clothing that includes long ties to wrap around or even just long hems on skirts, and the idea of a machine doing the work without my having to press the foot pedal blew my mind. Plus, as someone who prefers to work slow and steady rather than races through my sewing, the speed-control dial was a pleasant surprise. The pedal on my Brother machine is a bit touchy, but the speed dial on the Mood machine will only go as fast as you set it, even if you press the pedal all the way down. It’s a great safety feature.

    DSC_0304

    Other "safety" features of this machine that I like include helpful guide settings that prevent mishaps and sewing goof-ups like using the wrong stitch setting or running out of thread for your bobbin. The LCD screen on the machine actually shows you the suggested settings for thread tension depending on which stitch you’re using. If you’re like me, it may be difficult to adjust the thread tension for the best result, and sometimes just eyeing how the test stitch looks isn’t enough. That’s why I really like that it provides what tension would be best.

    DSC_0329

    The machine also has a bobbin sensor that stops the machine when you’re about to run out of thread on your bobbin! I’m sure everyone reading this has been working on a long stitch that they’re about to finish, or they’re about to complete their project ("just five more inches to go!") and they run out of bobbin thread. It’s The Worst. What burns me up about that, though, is when I don’t have enough thread to tie a box knot and lock in the work I’ve already done. Mood's sewing machine bobbin sensor stops the machine with a safe amount left on the bobbin for you to use as you need and end that stitch of work before you go to refill the bobbin. It’s a great and innovative feature. Oh, and did I mention that this machine has an auto-backstitch button? It’s designed so that when you press the button while sewing forward, it does about 4-6 stitches back to lock in your thread before automatically returning to forward-stitching. It makes moving through products easier and quicker. It’s a great addition to the functionality of sewing machines! And this last feature isn't huge, but I can’t tell you how tired I am of having to bring my sewing machine in the box in came in whenever I need to travel with it. This machine has a nifty little handle on top to help you transport your machine to and fro, and it's pretty light-weight. The best of both worlds!

    DSC_0330

    Overall, this machine is a fantastic product and I’m thoroughly impressed. Whether you're starting out, looking to upgrade, or plan to eventually improve through the ranks of expertise, I highly suggest giving this machine a shot. It looks good, feels good, and makes great results. If you'd like proof, check out my Tiered Skirt Tutorial here! I made it using this sewing machine! If you'd like to purchase this machine for yourself, click here to go to its page on Mood's website! You can find information on the tools it comes with as well as its manufacturing information there! Happy sewing!
  • The Ultimate List of Sewing Supplies by Mood Fabrics

    sewing supplies guide

    With school (dare I say it) just around the corner, it's probably that point in the summer where students are looking at their supply list and wondering which tools they still need, which ones essential, and which would just be incredibly helpful to have in their bag. Not to worry - in today's post, we're going to outline each handy sewing gadget that we love to use from design to finish!

    1. Design

    sewing supplies guide

    Every project should have a design stage; a time when you can find inspiration and sketch ideas. Sure, you'll find a sketchpad and some fashion sites helpful, but the internet isn't the only place you have to turn to for ideas.

    1. The Mood Guide to Fabric and Fashion
      • If you ever wanted some in depth insight to the history of Mood and how it all began, this book is a must. However, it won't stop there. The Mood Guide will also give you the tools to learn all about the different types of fabrics, fibers, prints and patterns, identifying specific characteristics of each. So you'll already be on your way to becoming a pro when you show up for class this semester.
    2. 9 Heads - A Guide to Drawing Fashion
      • This book, essential for any student studying fashion, is what Mood uses in all of their illustrations classes. In addition to covering techniques for drawing fashion figures, 9 Heads is also a comprehensive guide to drawing all kinds of modern fashion garments, silhouettes and constructional/design details. This edition even includes a new chapter on Composition and Fashion Shorthand (a guide to composing groups of garments for professional standard portfolios) and a complete set of tutorials on how best to utilize Photoshop for fashion illustrations. 9 Heads leaves no future designer with anything less than all of the basic tools in formatting fashion illustrations on a professional level.
    3. Fashionary
      • Do you love designing clothes, but have a hard time putting your ideas on paper? If so, a Fashionary might just be the perfect fit for you. These pads are the perfect blend of fashion resource, templates, and sketchpad, making it the tool for brainstorming, fast sketching and quick referencing for students, designers and home sewers alike.
    4. Sketchpads
      • If templates just distract you, basic sketch books and pads are always a great option. Mood has several for pencils, pens, or markers.
    5. Pens, Pencils, and Markers
      • Not every writing instrument is the same. If you're finalizing your sketches with pens and markers like you should be, there are a slew of tools that can help you make sure your idea on the page is exactly what you're designing in your head. Prismacolor's marker set is terrific, as is their marker blender, and Fashionary's color collection (made exclusively for Mood) contains a full and effective range of contemporary fashion colors for extensive design applications!

    2. Drape

    sewing supplies guide

    If you like to make your own patterns, draping is almost always a necessary extra step, which means a few more supplies. In the end though, your designs will flourish for it.

    1. Dress Form
      • Dress forms are one of the most helpful tools a fashion designer can have. Not only can you fit semi-finished garments on it, you can also drape muslin or other fabric to create your own brand new garment or pattern.
    2. Muslin
    3. Pins
    4. Draping Tape
      • Draping tape, much like painter's tape, is often thin and flexible, making it ideal for mapping out seams and curves on a dress form or muslin.
    5. Pattern Paper
      • Draw out your own patterns or save yourself some money by tracing ready-made patterns in different sizes - either way, pattern paper can be incredibly helpful! Plus, it typically has a built in 1" grid system for easy measurements.

    3. Measure

    sewing supplies guide

    Measuring tools have evolved fantastically from a basic straight ruler. These awesome gadgets can make sure every garment you make is tailored to perfection.

    1. Yard Stick
    2. French Curve
      • This easy to use gauge is terrific for measuring and drawing curved lines like arm holes and necklines.
    3. T-Square
      • You'll definitely want one of these if you do a lot of quilting or geometric work.
    4. Hem Gauge
      • This curved gauge makes pressing new hems incredibly simple - just wrap your hem around the curve and iron! It can also be used for pockets, pattern alterations, and belts or waistbands.
    5. Hip Curve
      • If you're looking to create long, graceful curves in your designs, this 2 foot ruler needs to be in your supply stash.
    6. L-Square
      • This is a straight edge and t-square all in one, terrific for right angles and borders!
    7. Measuring Tape
      • We all have at least 3 of these right?? Tape measures are terrific for taking measurements on non-flat surfaces, which is a necessity when you need to measure your model.
    8. Sliding Gauge
      • If you don't want to spend the money on all of these right away, you can try them out with a nifty little sliding gauge. This pocket-sized gadget features a buttonhole spacer and sizer, a seam allowance gauge, a circle compass, a hem gauge, and a T-square - all in miniature!

    4. Mark

    sewing supplies guide

    1. Tracing Wheel
      • A tracing wheel is a great marking option  for soft fabrics. It leaves a small dotted indent that disappears after pressing. For leather or vinyl, it can also be used to evenly space and mark where to hand stitch.
    2. Tailor's Chalk
      • This chalk is best if you need a nice, solid line. However, be sure to remove markings before pressing your garment, as the heat could set the color slightly.
    3. Marking Pencil
      • Marking pencil's are much like tailor's chalk, but they tend to be a bit lighter. They come in three shades, so they can work with most fabric colors, and there are even water soluble options that can be removed with a damp cloth!
    4. Awl
      • An awl is a tool used to punch holes in leather, vinyl, plastic, and fleece, to hold and ease fabric under a needle while sewing, to start holes for small wood screws, and to mark dart holes in both fabric and preliminary patterns. Essentially, it can be used for a lot of things - such as marking stitchs on leather by hand instead of using a tracing wheel, or fully puncturing the markings initially made by a tracing wheel.
    5. Tracing Paper
      • Once you have all your markings and measurements, you may want to recreate them on pattern paper or muslin, or even your fina fabric. Tracing paper can be a great assistant when it comes to this step.

    5. Cut

    sewing supplies guide

    1. Buttonhole Cutter
      • Similar to a chisel, you can insert the tip of this buttonhole cutter in the center of the button hole and rock it back and forth until you cut through to the other side. Be sure to place a piece of cardboard or other protective material behind the fabric when cutting.
    2. Seam Ripper
      • Many beginner kits and machines come with a seam ripper, but if you're unfamiliar with them, they can be used to open seams, to cut and remove stitches and to cut buttonholes open.
    3. Edge Trimmer
      • These applique scissors are designed to make applique work and rug making a breeze as the paddle-shaped blade pushes away the bottom layer of fabric for flawless, controlled cuts close to stitching.
    4. Cutting Mat
      • These mats are self-healing, meaning they won't be easily destroyed by knife or rotary cutter marks.
    5. Thread Snipper
      • Thread snippers are designed to trim thread, floss, yarn or other light materials with accuracy and comfort. Fine-point tips offer access and control when trimming stringing materials in tight places while the precision-ground stainless steel blades make clean cuts. Spring-action handle with finger loop makes handling both easy and comfortable!
    6. Rotary Cutter
      • Rotary cutters are especially terrific for long, straight lines - like those you'd be cutting if you're a quilter.

    6. Sew

    sewing supplies guide

    1. Mood Sewing Machine
      • This could maybe be considered a shameless plug, but Mood's newly launched sewing machine is a must-have! I can't say it better than Mood itself:
        • "These electronic sewing machines come with a LCD screen, an all purpose foot, a zipper foot, a buttonhole foot, an overcasting foot, a blind hem foot, a satin stitch foot, a button sewing foot, three bobbins (with one already filled), an edge quilting guide, a large and small spool holder, spool pin felt, three needles, a brush, a seam ripper, screw drivers, a soft cover and more. Proving a diverse array of over 400 basic, novelty and embroidery stitches/patterns, this machine is perfect for both the skillful and novice sewers. Complete with a manual providing detailed instruction not only on every aspect of this machine, but with instruction on how to complete basic sewing tasks as well. Features enhancements such as warning messages when your bobbin is low or when the upper thread is broken. Can be used to sew leather, heavy wool, cotton, knits, etc. "
    2. Thread
      • Elastic, invisible, fusible, heavy duty -- every wonder about all the different types of thread? I recently outlined all my favorites right over here!
    3. Machine Needles
    4. Hand Needles
    5. Needle Threader
      • Maybe this one isn't a necessity, but I am in love with needle threaders. They can be used with both hand and machine needles, and they completely elliminate the frustration of fighting with the eye of a needle and fraying thread.
    6. Thimble
      • These come in a few different sizes, to protect your finger while hand sewing. Plus, if you find the metal ones uncomfortable, there are also leather ones!
    7. Bobbins
      • These, of course, typically come with your machine, but it's always a good idea to have a few extra. Some will always get lost, and others are just great to have so you don't always need to waste thread by juggling the same two. Just be sure you choose ones that fit your machine!

    7. Craft

    sewing supplies guide

    1. Seam Creaser
      • This is a must-have for any sewist. The narrow end helpfully turns points on shirt collars, lapels, pockets and more, while the rounded end creases seams open (or shut!) for a tailored look every time.
    2. Loop Turner
      • A necessity when making narrow spaghetti-straps, button loops or frog closures. Latch-hook end catches fabric to pull it through bias tubing!
    3. Fabric Glue
      • Sometimes, you just have to use glue. When adhering fabric though, be sure to use glue meant specifically for fabric. Others can stain or eat through certain fibers, and others simply won't do the job as well.
    4. Hem Tape
      • Intimidated by hemming? Hem tape can take that fear away! There are several different kinds, although most are iron-on. Some are permanent, which others wash away and act more like temporary iron-on pins. This can also be used for appliques!
    So what sewing tools are your favorites? Did we leave any out in our ultimate list?
  • How to Recreate a Pant Pattern

    How To Recreate a Pant Pattern

    #1view

    We’ve all had that one pair of pants that fit just right- you know, that pair of pants that gave you a certain strut when you walked down the street.  Or in my case, when a friend comes strutting towards you wearing a pair of fabulous pants. What do you do? Ask to borrow them of course so you can recreate that pattern, and make new fabric and color variations! Original Pant: High waist, flared leg, with front patch pockets. For this style, I'm using the Italian Light Beige Solid Wool Suiting from moodfabrics.com. Boxy crop top with drop shoulder - I made this top using an oversized t-shirt as my pattern. Striped poly fabric can also be found on moodfabrics.com.

    original pant

    First you want to get all of your measurements incase you need to adjust the size:
    • Natural waist
    • Hip
    • Inseam from crotch to floor
    • Out-seam from waist to floor
    Now grab your pants and turn them inside out. This is the best way to get a good look at how they were constructed. Ok, so you have your pant front, pant back, waistband and maybe a pocket pattern.  You may also want to take note of all the notions, zippers, buttons etc. Step 1 Pant Front: Fold pants in half, lengthwise then pinch at crotch seam to determine pattern shape. Lay the pants flat directly onto your pattern paper where you will trace the outline. Be patient as you adjust the pants to trace the outline. Make sure to account for the seam allowance. You can even pin the pants down to the paper to prevent them from sliding around. Start at the top- (bottom of waistband) and trace down the CF seam. Continue along the length of the pants.

    view at cf seam adjust

    Continue down the side seams and around to the other side using your elongated french curve for shaping.

    view at leg trace

    Here’s my finished front pattern.

    view at cf pattern

    Make sure to label all of your pattern pieces and include the size- Front, Cut 2 out of Fabric. Step 2 Pant Back: Now Let’s trace the back pant pattern. Flip the pants over to the back. Make sure to pinch at the crotch and adjust and straighten out the back seam. There’s a dart in the back so there’s a slight adjustment we need to make. Here’s how: Measure the width and the length of the dart that is sewn in the pant. Trace the back pant just as we did with the front. Once you have the completed shape, we’ll need to add in our dart measurement. After you add the dart, retrace and blend in the additional measurement.

    view at dart

    Now let's mark off a little notch for our zipper placement.  Measure zipper to be sure of length.

    veiw at zipper

    Label: Back, Cut 2 out of Fabric. Step 3 Waistband: Now all we have to do is trace out our waistband. The measurements are pretty straightforward and should match your waist measurements. Make sure to label pieces: Waistband Front cut 2 of fabric on fold/Cut 2 of Facing on fold. Waistband Back cut 2 of fabric on fold/Cut 2 of Facing on fold. Step 4 pockets: The last pattern left to recreate is the pocket. I have 2 large patch rectangular pockets at front with flaps so the shape is pretty easy to achieve. I just used my ruler to measure, then drew it out on the pattern paper including my seam allowances.

    view at pocket

    You should now have all your pattern pieces and are ready sew them together, happy sewing!

    #2view at wall

    #3view on stairs

    #4 view at door

       

     

     
  • Mood DIY: How to Make a Plunge Bodysuit

    Today in Mood DIY we'll be drafting a simple bodysuit with an empire waist and plunging front and back neckline. Whether you're looking to beat the heat or for something to wear to the gym, this bodysuit is the perfect afternoon project.

    featured

    What you'll need:
    • Approx. 1 1/4 yd 4-way stretch fabric (such as jersey, spandex, or tricot; you'll want to use a fabric with strong elasticity, rather than an extremely soft, loose jersey)
      • (A note on calculating yardage: measure yourself from crotch to underbust, then double this number. That is the length of fabric that you will need. Allow a little extra if you're print matching or if your fabric has a nap/one-way design. If your body circumference is greater than the width of your fabric [our fabric was 45" wide], you will also need additional yardage.)
    • 3 size 1 snaps
    • All-purpose polyester thread (Not cotton!)
    • Lightweight machine needles (Ball point, for jerseys; Stretch, for most high-stretch fabrics)
    • Sharp, fine hand needle
    • Pattern paper (any large paper will do)
    • Measuring tape
    • Straight edge
    • Fabric pencil or chalk
    • Pencil
    • Calculator
    Optional but useful items: For this project, we're going to do a little pattern drafting. Fear not! This bodysuit only has two pattern pieces and no tricky armholes, so even if you've never drawn a pattern before, you'll be able to dive right in.

    Step 1: Measuring

    To begin, we need to take measurements. Lots of measurements. Then do some math. (Didn't think that's what you were signing up for, did you? The unfortunate reality of pattern making is that once you get past the fun designing part, you have to figure out how big all of your pieces are. So, pattern drafting=math.) To make life a bit easier, I've prepared this worksheet:

    measurement worksheet

    Not sure how to measure? No problem. Click here to view a handy chart, illustrating where each measurement should be taken. You will note that rise is absent from the diagram. To measure rise, measure from waist to crotch (dead center, where the inseams of your pants meet). Write all of these measurements on your sheet. Now, fire up your calculator. Where indicated on the worksheet, take your measurements and multiply them by .85 to find our negative ease. Say what?! Negative ease. In all garments, additional space is provided so that your body has room to swell and bend. If you were to put on a garment that is exactly the same measurements as your body, you would find it impossible to move. With stretch fabrics, however, we have to take negative ease, meaning, we will subtract from our body measurements, in order to provide a snug fit. The percent by which you reduce your measurements will depend on how stretchy your fabric is. Many sewers will tell you, never go beyond 10% negative ease. In my experience, when using a very stretchy 4-way stretch fabric, 10% will not produce a truly snug fit, so here I've used a 15% reduction. (The garment in our featured photo was sewn with 10% negative ease. You can see how it is a contoured fit but not skin tight, as one typically expects from a leotard or bodysuit.) Multiplying by .85 gives us 85% of our original number, so fill those numbers in, where blanks are provided. (Obviously, here you'll use a different number if you're using a different percentage of ease for your own fabric.) Lastly, we need to divide a few of our measurements by 4 so that we'll get our pattern dimensions, so do that where indicated (bust, underbust, waist, and hip).

    Step 2: Drafting the Pattern

    The Body Now it's time to start drawing. Take your paper, pencil, curve, and square (or plain old ruler). First, we'll draw the pattern piece for the body. Important note: we are marking actual body size, without seam allowances. You will add seam allowance at the end, before cutting your paper. You can start drawing willy-nilly in the middle of your paper if you don't mind a little waste, but these instructions will help you minimize waste. Working up the longest edge of your paper, make a mark 1" from the bottom (the short edge). Now, take your front rise measurement and mark that up from this mark. At this upper mark, square across your 1/4 waist measurement. 7" below your waist line, square across your 1/4 hip measurement. Like so: diagram1 If you want the crotch of your bodysuit to be sewn shut, then go ahead and draw a 1.5" line across at the bottom mark. (Which, obviously, is your crotch.) If you want a snap crotch (which is what we're making), mark a half inch down and then draw in the 1.5" line. (This gives us a half inch of overlap, to accommodate the snap closure.) Use your ruler to connect the ends of the waist and hip lines.

    IMG_9624 diagram2

    Measure along this line from the waist and mark your side to leg opening measurement. Now, draw a line connecting this leg opening mark to the end of your crotch line. diagram3 Our next step is to shape the leg opening. Find the center of the leg opening line that you just drew. Make a mark 2" in from there. Using your french curve (or free hand), draw an arc through this mark from the leg opening to the crotch.

    IMG_9626 diagram4

      Now we've got a leg hole! Optional alteration: As you see, our leg opening is the same front and back. If you want the back leg opening to be lower, for comfort or if using the bodysuit as outwear (leotard or swimsuit), here is a simple way to drop it. Take your finished, cut-out pattern piece and lay it on a fresh piece of paper. Find the center of the leg hole and make a mark 1" in. Draw a new arc connecting the ends of the opening, through this mark. Ta-da. Rear leg hole. Cut this out of your paper as a block, trim along the arc, and tape onto the back of your main pattern piece. Now you've got a separate pattern piece for front and back, simply by taping or removing this small addition when cutting your fabric.
    The highlighted orange line is our new rear leg hole. The highlighted orange line is our new rear leg hole.
      The final step for the body is to extend to underbust, which is much simpler. From your waistline, mark the waist to underbust measurement. At this mark, draw a line for your 1/4 underbust measurement. diagram5   Connect the line to the waist. See how the waist is a sharp angle? Our last step is to smooth that out into a more organic curved shape, as you see in the photo below. diagram6

    IMG_9633

      Everything look good? Cut out your pattern piece with a 1/2" margin (except on the center edge, which will be placed on the fold). This is our seam allowance.
    The bracket on the left side indicates that the pattern piece is to be cut on the fold of your fabric. The bracket on the left side indicates that the pattern piece is to be cut on the fold of your fabric.
      Ta-da! You've finished the body. The Top The top is a bit simpler.  Draw a line equal to your 1/4 underbust + 4". We're adding 4" to both our underbust and bust measurements, in order to create a full cup that will be gathered to fit the waistline. In the center of this line, square up a perpendicular line equal to your underbust to shoulder measurement. top1 Working up from the underbust line, mark in your bust point. At this point, square across your 1/4 bust + 4" measurement. Connect your underbust and bust lines.  This is your side seam. Draw a notch in the center of this line so that later, when sewing, we'll know it's our side seam. top2 Our finished shoulder is 2.75" wide, so at the top of the central line, center across a 2.75" line. (If you want your own shoulder to be narrower or wider, just change this measurement accordingly.)  On the same side as the side seam, connect the bust and shoulder lines. top3 On the opposite side, draw a gentle curve connecting the shoulder, bust, and underbust lines.

    IMG_9671

    top4 Along the underbust line, we need to make a couple of marks for gathering, so that each piece is identical. We want the gathers to be placed closer to the front than the side, so about 2" from the curved side (our center front/back), make a large dot. Make a second dot about 3" from the side seam. Later, we'll do our gathering between these two dots. One last step! Along the straight/side line of our top, measure 2" down from the shoulder. Connect this mark to the other end of the shoulder line. This shortens the armhole to eliminate gaping.

    IMG_9667

    top5 As before, cut around your pattern piece with a 1/2" margin, to add seam allowance. Congratulations, you've just drafted a pattern! Have a lie down. Next, we cut our fabric.

    Step 3: Cutting

    For our bodysuit, we're using a fantastic performance tricot in this amazing dragon feather print (as I'm calling it). It's a compression fabric, so it has a lot of stretch, but it's thick and sturdy. (The gentle compression makes it SUPER flattering. It will smooth out all your lumps and bumps! We're in love with it here.) It also has UV protection and aloe vera microcapsules, so it's a great choice for a swimsuit or athletic clothing. Fold your fabric lengthwise, bringing both of your fabric's selvedge edges together. Be sure that the fabric is laying flat and smooth. (Your cut ends may not line up exactly. This is normal.) Does your fabric have a print? Check whether it has an obvious top and bottom. Our print definitely has an obvious direction, so make sure that the top edges of all your pattern pieces are placed right side up! Place your body piece against the folded edge and trace around it with your chalk. Place your top piece next to it, being sure that the center line of your pattern piece is parallel to the selvedge. (This places our pattern along the fabric's lengthwise grain. It is very, very important to be on grain.) If your top pattern piece does not fit exactly next to the body piece, slide it up until it fits. Trace it with your chalk. Remove the pattern pieces and place them a second time, the same way. Trace and cut all of your pieces. (Always place/trace all of your pieces before cutting. You want to make sure it all fits on your fabric.) You should have 2 body pieces and 4 top pieces.

    IMG_9679

    Don't forget to transfer your markings to your top pieces. Cut your side seam notch, and either notch or chalk the indicators for gathering.

    Step 4: Sewing

    Now we assemble everything! When sewing a stretch fabric, you need to use a stretch stitch. This is a zig-zag stitch. Your machine may have a special stretch-stitch setting. (On our house Mood machines, it's stitch #4). If not, a regular zig-zag will be fine. Do a test stitch on a scrap of fabric and find the stitch length and width that you want. You want a short, narrow stitch that creates a clean line when the seam is opened.

    testers

    When you do a test, is your fabric puckering, as in the photo below?

    IMG_9620

    Don't worry, there's an easy remedy--use a 3-stitch zig-zag. It's the one that looks like this: 3stepzig13.00.14 This stitch is especially handy for sewing hems on stretchy garments, because it holds the fabric flatter than a conventional zig-zag. Once you're ready to go, start by pinning the sides of your body together, then stitch, with a 1/2" seam allowance. Remember, we're working with 1/2" seam allowances throughout.

    IMG_9682

    Along the leg openings, turn under 1/2" and sew down flat. Lastly, turn under the seam allowance on the short crotch ends and sew down.

    IMG_9684

    Boom, there's your body. Now we're going to prepare the top. We're going to begin by making gathering stitches. Change your machine to a straight stitch (this will be #1 on most machines) and increase your stitch length to the longest setting. Between the two dots along the underbust, sew a straight line 1/8" from the edge of the fabric. Do not back stitch at either end. This is very important. If you back stitch, the fabric will be locked into place and won't be able to slide along the thread to create the gather. (At Mood U, one of the questions we hear most often from beginners is, "Should I back stitch?" The answer is "Yes, always--EXCEPT when doing gathers!) Sew a second line just above the previous line, about 1/4" from the fabric edge. Do this on all 4 pieces.

    IMG_9695

    Next, take two pieces and sew them together at the side seam. (Repeat for the other 2.)

    IMG_9690

    Sew the same two pieces together at the shoulder. Turn under your 1/2" hem around this newly created armhole and sew flat. Do the same along the front/back center edges (unless raising neckline; see option below). Optional neckline alteration: If you want your neckline to be less plunging, decide how much you want to raise it--let's say, 3". Take your two halves of your top and sew together at the center front 3.5". Now you may hem the remainder of the front and back edges. Optional addition: If your top is fitting as snugly as we hope, you won't have any gaping and the shoulders shouldn't be prone to slipping off. However, if you do encounter slippage, or if you want the added security, then when hemming, you may add clear lingerie elastic around the neck and arm openings. This will give you some additional traction. Fitting tip: Gauging the correct negative ease for your fabric can be tricky the first time you sew with it. If you find your neck or armholes are gaping, you can fix this by pinching out any excess fabric in the side seams and in the shoulder seams, sewing to the desired point, and trimming off the excess. Huzzah! Your top is prepared. We'll sew it onto the body, and we're nearly done. Take your body and fold it in half. Notch or otherwise mark the center front and back.
    Here I've cut a notch and placed a pin at the center, to make it more apparent. Here I've cut a notch and placed a pin at the center, to make it more apparent.
    Place the top against the body, matching the side seams. Pin up to the beginning of your gathering stitch. Match your center front/back edge up to the center marking you just made on the body, and pin this down, up to the other end of the gathering. Finally, we'll pull the gathering stitches to fit the body, adjusting the gathers evenly along the entire length.

    IMG_9699

    Sew it all together, and voila, you've got your very own, custom-fit bodysuit! You may sew a half of the top at a time, or pin all and sew all the way around in pass. Pro-tip: When sewing over thick areas on stretch fabrics, such as over the gathering or over seams, you might find that some of the bulk is getting stuck under the sewing machine foot, stretching, and causing skipped stitches. Here's a simple way to counteract this: every inch or so, lower your needle into your fabric and lift the presser foot. Now released, the fabric will rebound. Lower the foot and continue sewing. This is also a good strategy for getting over thick seams.

    Step 5: Sewing the Snaps

    The hard work is over. All we need to do now is sew on the snaps. Take your hand needle and some thread and relax in a comfy chair. You will place 3 snaps on the wrong side of one crotch half and the right side of the other half.

    IMG_9709

    Also take care that you're not so preoccupied with daydreams of sandwiches that you sew half of your snaps on upside down. Never sew on an empty stomach, kids. IMG_9705 Now, put on your bodysuit and do a little dance, because you're done and you've earned it!

    bodysuit1

    bodysuit

    bodysuit3

  • All About Threads

    If you've ever found yourself staring at the notions wall with total confusion, don't worry; we've all been there! Read on to learn everything you need to know about thread fiber types, and then it's best to use them!

    Thread Types A

    • Cotton
      • Use when sewing natural fibers
        • Cotton
        • Linen
        • Wool
      • Heat durable
      • Great for gathering, basting, and finishing
    • Nylon/Rayon
      • Synthetic fibers
      • Typically transparent, like fishing line
      • Useful for purses, ourdoor cushions or umbrellas, and other heavy duty projects
    • Polyester
      • Use with synthetic fabrics
        • Polyester
        • Acetate
        • Rayon
      • Slight luster
      • Not heat-resistant
      • Stronger than cotton
    • Elastic
      • Perfect for ruching
      • Tricky to work with
    • Silk
      • Used mainly when sewing with silk
      • Can be good for detailing and embroidery
      • Super fine and flexible
    • Metallic
      • Mostly used for details and embellishments
      • Found often on handbags
    • Bobbin
      • Lightweight
      • Sometimes used on the wrong side of embroidery and applique
      • Great for basting
    • Wool
      • Good for heavy projects like upholstery
      • Often used for chunky embroidery or top-stitching

    Thread Types B

    • Special Occasion Dresses
      • Silk
      • Polyester
    • Casual Dresses
      • Cotton
      • Polyester
    • Button-Up Shirts
      • Cotton
    • Blouses
      • Cotton/Poly Blend
      • Silk
    • Knitwear & Sportswear
      • Polyester
      • Elastic
    • Quilting
      • Cotton
    • Machine Embroidery
      • Cotton
      • Silk
    • Jeans
      • Cotton/Poly Blend
      • Heavy Duty
    • Upholstery
      • Polyester or Wool
      • Nylon (for outdoors)
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