Tag: Sewing

The Handmade Wardrobe

After more than two years of working on back-to-back books, I’ve been a little burned out on sewing because I have to. Nothing takes the enjoyment out of something for me quite like the feeling that it’s work.

And, while I do have some things to sew for Hack That Tote!, I am pretty giddy about having little sewing-by-obligation on my plate for the near future. It’s rather liberating, but also a little intimidating. I am far more productive when I have a deadline and a plan. Too many options will often send me into a tailspin of indecisiveness.

For several years, I’ve wanted to sew more of my wardrobe and I realized that putting that into motion would meet two needs — plus I’d end up with (hopefully!) cute clothes! I’ve even made it Pinterest official and created a board for organizing my wardrobe planning.

One of the things that’s held me back from doing this in the past (besides a timing issue) is that I couldn’t find a wardrobe sewing plan that really met my needs. I know a capsule wardrobe works for many folks but I like more variety than that. I like mixing it up! Once I sort of gave myself permission to sew the clothes I want, it all started falling into place.

 

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Right now, I’m planning to add a few more pairs of leggings, jeans (oh, how I’d love to make jeans that actually fit me!), cute tops to wear with leggings, a fall/spring jacket, a cooler weather coat, and even … a bra. Crazy, right?

This is a long-term project, a conscious shift toward sewing for myself and away from buying ready-to-wear that is ultimately disposable. I’m excited to get back to sewing for myself and really pushing myself to make beautiful, well-fitting items that I’ll love.

 

The STEM Connection

Today is STEM Day here in Georgia, a day for schools and companies to increase awareness of career paths in science, technology, engineering and math. Miss L’s school observed STEM Day a day earlier and invited parents with STEM careers to talk to their child’s class about what they do.

To: Teacher

From: Me

Subject: STEM day

My job isn’t typically considered STEM but if you are still looking for speakers, I’m happy to come share about my work and how sewing and creating sewing patterns (and books) is as much about math and geometry as it is about fabric. This year’s Met Costume Gala theme is “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology,” which is related to my current explorations involving LEDs, el wire and the use of tech as clothing embellishments.

To: Me

From: Teacher

Subject: Re: STEM day

This sounds great and interesting for the kids! … Thanks!!

A photo posted by Mary Abreu (@t

hatcraftaddict) on

So my Power Point presentation, my bag of stuff and I headed out to talk about the STEM side of sewing and quilting for an hour before work. Crazy, right? I mean, who thinks of sewing and quilting as STEM?

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But that “M” — that’s “math,” and it’s everywhere in this passion of ours.

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I explained to the kids about creating pattern blocks/slopers from measurements, translating a 3D figure into 2D representation. How those slopers are used to create patterns, which are then cut out of fabric and sewn into garments.I showed them how arduino, conductive thread and LEDs add a little something extra to a quilted panel. After quizzing them about the Fibonacci sequence, I showed them a quilt that illustrates it perfectly (you can see it in action on my Instagram). They passed around English paper piecing samples and saw examples of arranging hexagons in different ways created new patterns. And then I gave them packets of paper hexies and glue sticks and cut them loose.

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While the kids worked on their quilt block art, I talked with Miss L’s teacher about my presentation. “I really had no idea about any of this,” she said. “Why aren’t people talking about sewing in the context of STEM?”

I have no answer for that but I’m trying to start the conversation.

Beyond Modern Style for Girls

Beyond Modern Style for Girls

I don’t know that I’ll ever stop hacking patterns, especially my own. I get bored making the same thing over and over again, so tweaking things here and there just helps keep things fresh.

When I was working on Modern Style for Girls, I kept thinking of new ways to hack the patterns in the book. At times, I had to force myself to stay focused because an idea was so appealing that I wanted to get started right away!

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One of my ideas was this sweet party dress. I actually made and photographed this one as an extra style shot for the book but it didn’t get used. There’s only so much room! But that just gives me the chance to share it with you and give a little more information about how you can use Modern Style for Girls to make one for the girl in your life!

This dress uses the same Basic Bodice but the full length instead of one of the alternate cutting lines. There’s still an invisible zipper in the back, so no change there. I paired it with the short sleeves and the collar from the Collared A-line Dress (make sure you use the correct neckline). I actually flat lined the collar with a piece of ivory lace I had in my stash. If you do this, make sure you pay close attention to where you apply the lace. I find it easier to lay out the collar as it would be on the dress so that I don’t accidentally flat line the same side of the collar pieces.

For the skirt, I used a beautiful sheer cream fabric with a rolled hem and a cream lining fabric for a nice double-layered look. Because the invisible zipper ends above the waist, I could cut the same size pieces for both the front and back of the skirt (you can use the back skirt measurement from the Wrap Top/Dress as a starting point). Since these fabrics are so lightweight and gather easily, I cut them a little wider than I would have if I used quilting cotton or something a little heavier. The lining is a hair shorter than the exterior skirt but you could make them the same length, if you prefer.

Voila! A picture-perfect party dress!

P.S. There’s still time to get an autographed copy of Modern Style for Girls before Christmas!

Comfy Christmas PJ Pants

My favorite ever pair of pajama pants are some jersey knit ones with Santas all over them, purchased at Old Navy years ago. So many years ago that I don’t even remember when I bought them. They are so soft and comfortable, I pretty much wear them around the house all year long in spite of the seasonal fabric.

We stocked some cute Christmas knit fabrics from Riley Blake at the shop and Sarah suggested making a pair of knit PJ pants with them. Both of them. It seemed a little wild but I figured, “why not?”

They turned out so cute! I used an Indygo Junction pattern but I think they’d work for any pattern with a single pants leg. Or even a two-piece pants leg.

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I made a couple of modifications. I cut a 4″ piece of each fabric the same width as the bottom of the pants leg, sewed the short ends together, then folded in half wrong sides together and sewed it to the bottom of each leg. This made the pants just  tad longer and added an extra bit of fun.

Also, I was out of 3/4″ elastic so I used some 1″ wide boxer elastic I had on hand instead. I don’t normally serge the elastic to the fabric but I did for these just because.

Miss L loves them and was bummed when I told her they were going to the shop to hang as a sample. Fortunately I made them a little big so that they’ll still fit next year — not that I care if she wears them the rest of the year.

Inked

 

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I have been planning a sewing tattoo for a very, very long time. I even have a Pinterest board dedicated to inspiration. But this one, this is completely me. I sent the artist a sketch of what I wanted and she tweaked it a little and I asked for a little tweaking and re-sizing — and this is the result. It’s small and simple, on the inside of my left forearm, and I love it.

Hello, Dahlia!

Have you ever seen something and just instantly fell in love, knew “this is the one”? That’s kind of what I felt the first time I saw a dahlia quilt. Curvy, colorful, big and beautiful.

Of course, it’s also the kind of project that makes me think, “Can I do this?”

When I came across the Dahlia quilt pattern from Prairie Grass Patterns, I knew I’d found my entre to the quilt of my dreams. It took me a little while to get to it, but when I did, I couldn’t stop until it was done.

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I used largely Tula Pink fabrics with a bit of Timeless Treasure’s Studio Basics blender and a wee touch of Cotton + Steel. It’s all machine pieced, then hand appliqued to the background fabric. I machine quilted each blade of the dahlia, echoing the lines of the piecing. Then I echo stitched around the dahlia on the background fabric.

The finished mini quilt is about 25″ square and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. It was a good learning process without the level of intimidation that is the Giant Dahlia pattern. And now that I’ve done it, I know I want to follow through and make the dahlia of my dreams.

Lizzy House+Knits=<3

My love for Lizzy House knows no bounds. In addition to being an amazingly talented artist, she’s also just an incredible human being. Smart, kind, warm. The kind of person to whom you’re just instinctively drawn.

Seeing her at Quilt Market in Minneapolis this past May was a complete surprise and filled me with such joy. It was wonderful to hug on her and catch up — including chats about her newest fabric.

Lizzy and I have chatted about knit fabrics in the past and her desire to find just the right fabric substrate for her designs. I have been stalking following along on her Instagram as she has worked with sample yardage, sewing it up into some of the cutest, most comfortable dresses imaginable.

So when Andover Fabrics asked me which print I’d be interested in working with, I replied so fast, auto correct couldn’t keep up! There may have been dancing, too. But look at these fabrics and tell me they don’t make you happy:


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The line is called “The Hit Parade,” and features 12 prints on 95 percent cotton/5 percent spandex jersey. The fabric is 58″/60″ wide and has just the right amount of stretch for all kinds of knit garments: dresses, tops, skirts, leggings.

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I was only able to get 7/8 of a yard of these stinkin’ cute kitties and it took me a little while to figure out the perfect project — with Miss L’s input, of course.

She really wanted a skater-style tank dress but I didn’t have enough fabric to comply, so I instead drafted a simple tank dress. I went a little big — not enough fabric for sleeves, so I wanted something she could still wear in the spring — and skipped hemming it to allow for a little more freedom once the weather changes. The arm and neck are finished with narrow bands of the same fabric, although fold-over elastic would have been a nice touch.

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I used my serger to make this dress but just as easily could have sewn it on a sewing machine. It’s only two pieces plus the three bands for finishing the arms and neckline, so it probably only took me about 30 minutes to cut and sew it.

She layered it over her tee shirt and added her favorite boots and I can totally see adding leggings or tights as the temps drop. It’ll be perfect in the spring with sandals. As will the other dresses she’s already asking me to make with the other prints she loves.

Myla & Me

Myla & Me

The biggest downside of writing a book is that I’m left with pretty much zero time for sewing for myself. But it’s February and the obligation sewing is long finished, so when I had a day off from work, I was ready to whip up a little something for me.

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I prefer tracing off patterns so I can make modifications more easily.

I’ve had the Myla Tank pattern from Sew Liberated for a while now (just because I don’t have time to sew for myself doesn’t mean I don’t collect patterns and fabric for future use) and when I saw the gorgeous Speckled navy lawn by Rashida Coleman-Hale for the newest Cotton+Steel line, I knew I’d found my match. The fabric reminds me of malted milk Easter eggs, which I love. Also, navy with splashes of aqua — my two favorite colors. *swoon*

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Sew Liberated Myla Tank made with Speckled lawn from Cotton+Steel.

The pattern guides you through finishing all the seam allowances with French seams. Since I have a serger (purchased because I’m too lazy to do French seams), I finished my seam allowances with it instead. Even with the French seams, though, I’d say this is a pretty speedy pattern to sew — with the exception of binding the neck and arms.

Ah, teeny binding. Not my favorite, for sure. But I think a wider binding would be far too bulky in those spots. I’m half tempted to make another but add a seam allowance around the neck and arms and do at least a half lining. On the fence about that, though, because …

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Sew Liberated Myla Tank made with Speckled lawn from Cotton+Steel.

I like the top and I’m going to wear the heck out of it but I’m not sure it’s the best fit in the chest-al region or the most flattering style for me. There’s just enough gaping around the arms that I will have to wear a tank or other top underneath. I do like the length, especially because I wear skinny jeans or leggings fairly often and this would work well with both.

But first I’m picking up more of that gorgeous lawn (maybe in the purple colorway, too) so I can make more pretties with it.