Category Archives: Sewing Projects

My Big Book of Sewing Awesome (aka My Project Book)

Project Book

I think it was when I was working on my second Mathilde blouse that I realized I needed to start keeping notes on my sewing projects. I remembered that I had to make some alterations to the first version, but couldn’t remember the exact changes I had ended up making and found myself wishing I had written them down somewhere.

And so my Project Book was born.

Each time I start a new sewing project I write down the date I started and all the pattern information, including what size(s) I cut. I will often print out the line drawing from the pattern envelope as well, and make my alteration notes right on the sketch. I love being able to mark up the patterns with my own notes and measurements.

Project BookRecently I have started getting a little more regimented about it and have even started stapling fabric swatches to each project page. I’m still not very textile savvy, so I figure it may come in handy one of these days to have those swatches. I could bring my little book to the fabric store with me and have all the information I need in there, including an example of the type of fabric I’m looking for, if I ever want to replicate a project.

Project Book

A nice little side effect of my project book is that it’s becoming a little trip down sewing memory lane for me. Sometimes I sit and flip through it, reminiscing about all my makes. I love having them all recorded in one place (besides here, lol)!

So how about you, do you keep notes on your projects?

 

Ahoy, Bronte!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comAhoy, Bronte! I’m still in love with my first Bronte top and I’ve been thinking that I need some more long-sleeved t-shirts this winter, so a long-sleeved Bronte was a nautical….ahem, natural….choice.

I’ve been obsessed with nautical prints lately. Maybe it’s because I got married on a boat (well, the actual wedding was on land, but the boat took us there), maybe it’s because we almost moved onto a boat last summer. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because nautical prints are super cute and super trendy right now. Whatever the reason, I had anchors on the brain and Robert Kaufman was more than happy to oblige with the Laguna Stretch Jersey Knit in Anchors Nautical Navy.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Based on my last Bronte top, I knew that I need to cut 2″ out of the hips, so I cut a size 20 in the bust and waist then scaled down to an 18 for the hips. I also knew that I needed to add 2″ in length to the body, so I assumed that I needed to add 2″ in the sleeve length as well. Not so! Once the shirt was assembled, I promptly cut that 2″ right back out, did a double turn hem and still have plenty of length in the sleeves!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comMy obsession with the twin needle continues. It just makes such a lovely edge, how could I resist?

Unfortunately, it makes it quite a pain in the butt to unpick it if you make a mistake.

So imagine my dismay when I realized that I had somehow managed to turn my hem the wrong way when I was hemming the bottom of the shirt. Duh! I thought about unpicking the entire circumference of the shirt (which, of course, is how long it took me to realize my error) for about a millisecond before I rejected the idea as ridiculous and just did a triple turned hem instead. The result is a bulky hem and a shirt that is about an inch shirt than I had intended. But you know, that’s still way better than unpicking them hem. Ammiright?

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe other thing I unfortunately struggled with this time was the neckline. In fact, it took me three tries before I got it right! When I sewed my Sangria Bronte top, I had forgotten to transfer the markings for neckline placement onto my fabric, so I kind of just estimated and moved it around until it all fit together. This time, I diligently transferred the pattern markings to my fabric, but when I tried it on for the first time the neckline was gaping so much that I thought I must have sewed it backwards!

Rather than doing something reasonable, like double checking with the pattern piece, I immediately unpicked the whole neckline and switched which piece overlapped which at the shoulder. When I tried it on that time, I realized “Oh. Now this is sewn backwards”.

Unpick, unpick, unpick.

Finally I hypothesized that I just needed to tighten the neckline up a little so I pulled each piece so that it overlapped the other by about an inch more than suggested by the pattern. This meant though, that now the sleeve didn’t line up properly with the armscye. Lucky for me that a little gather makes pretty much any sleeve more adorable because I sure as heck wasn’t unpicking that thing again!

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.comIf only I had noticed, at some point before I sewed it backwards, that I had sewn the whole shirt using a regular needle instead of a stretch needle!

Geeze Louise! As I’m writing this post I’m wondering what the heck I was thinking while I was trying to sew this top!

Unfortunately, you can still see the faint trace of the holes from the top-stitching made during the second neckline attempt when I sewed the front bodice piece over the back (oh yes, I top-stitched that error and everything), most visible in the white of the neckline in the close up photo above. But really, it’s not that noticeable when I’m wearing it. And it certainly doesn’t detract from the adorableness of this top. And I’m hoping it might bounce back a little after I wash the shirt. So there’s still that hope.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This fabric is a bit lighter weight and has a bit more stretch than the knit I used for my Sangria Bronte, and I’ve found it doesn’t make as much of a flattering shape as my first top from the back view. That’s not to say that it makes an unflattering shape. On the contrary, I think it looks quite nice. Just that it’s not as flattering as the first.

Crafty Little Secret - Jennifer Lauren Vintage Bronte Top - www.craftylittlesecret.com

All in all, I love my nautical Bronte! I think the choice of the white jersey for the neckline really brightens it up around my face and brings attention to the shoulder detail. I’m already pairing my nautical Bronte with my new Miette skirt in my head and wondering if a pair of red tights would make it all just too “outfitty”? Thoughts????

WIPs and WIIs

Works in progress and works in imagination. Or maybe they count as in progress if you’ve purchased the materials????

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comThe furthest along project first. I’m working on my first pair of dress pants! Well, okay, not my first ever, but my first since I started sewing seriously again and am trying to do things properly. I’m using some fabric I picked up in the NYC fabric district and an old sewing pattern (Vogue 7301). I’m going to have to improvise some pockets because pants without pockets shouldn’t be allowed to exist, but I’m not worried about that.

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd next….a sweater for my nephew. I’ve kinda started making him a sweater a year for Christmas or his birthday (whenever I finish it). Since it’s only been two years I guess that’s not much of a streak but I’m gonna try to keep it going. Can’t give away too much though because I think he’s parents read this blog and I don’t want to give away the surprise. I just hope they appreciate that I made sure to buy washable wool for a toddler sweater (hand washable still counts, right?)….

Crafty Little Secret - WIPs - www.craftylittlesecret.com

This final one is still very much in my imagination and still needs to go through its “experimental” phase. I’ve been turning an idea for a quilt over in my head (you can check out my Pinterest board here) that would be some sort of shibori-inspired blue and white quilt with embroidery. So when I was at Walgreen’s and saw some Rit dye calling to me, I remembered I had some old sheets at home that I could practice shibori dying! Yay mess!

And that’s all the projects I’ve got going these days, hopefully I’ll be sharing the finished pants with you sooner than later but I’m finding them oddly intimidating right now…..

DIY Grill Apron: Tutorial

Crafty Little Secret Tutorial: DIY Grill Apron - www.craftylittlesecret.comWow. Kudos to all you out there who post detailed tutorials regularly. I always forget how long I take to edit all the photos and get the posts up! This one has been in the making for a month….which I guess isn’t so bad.

What you’ll need for this project…..
– 1 yard of fun fabric (quilting cotton)***
– 1 yard of backing fabric (like a duck or light denim weight)
– 16/100 denim needle
– matching thread
– chalk
– ruler/measuring tape
– scissors

**** You could actually get away with less depending on which way the pattern runs, but for most patterned quilting cottons, you’ll need the full yard.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCut the following pattern pieces:

A (Apron) – 20″x36″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric

P (Pocket) – 14″ x 9″
– Cut one of fashion fabric, cut one of backing fabric (or two backing fabrics if you want a solid pocket)

W (Waist Tie) – 36″ x 3.5″
– Cut two of backing OR fashion fabric

N (Neck Tie) – 24″ x 3.5″
– Cut one of backing OR fashionfabric

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comUsing chalk, make a tick mark on the apron pattern pieces 15″ down from the corner on the long side, and 6″ from the corner on the short side. Draw a line connecting the two pieces and cut the corners off.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

To make the waist and neck ties, fold and iron fabric as when making bias tape. Fold the tape in half lengthwise and sew it up as close as you can to the open edge (I kept my seam allowance about 1/8″).

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comCrafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comThis is where it’s very important to have that 16/100 denim needle. Once you start sewing through multiple layers of the heavy duck (or similar weight) fabric, needle shards go flyin’ if you’re not using the right size.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo finish the ties I just double overed the ends a couple times and sewed through the bulk of it….carefully. Watch for breaking needles and take it slow. No one likes a needle shard in their eyeball.

[ASIDE: The alternative method for making the waist ties is to fold the fabric in half lengthwise with right sides together, sew all the way up the open edge then turn the tie inside out. I find this technique annoying enough on lighter weight fabrics that I didn’t even entertain the though on these heavy ones. But if you opted for a quilting cotton for your ties, it could be an option if you don’t like the futzing with folding and ironing.]

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAttach the ties by sewing them into the side seams (I attached them at the point where the angled front of the apron meets the straight sides). Since the ties are so long I found it helpful to keep them contained by pinning them into a coil to keep myself from sewing them into the seams at wonky places.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo attach the apron front to the apron backing, place right sides together and sew with a 5/8″ seam allowance. Sew all five bottom edges together (I went back and forth over the spot where the waist tie joined to add a little extra strength) but leave the top open. This allows you to turn the apron right-side-out again. Which you should do now. Flatten the apron and adjust the seams so that the corners are nice and neat (you can use a pencil to help turn them) then iron all the seams so they’re nice and crisp.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

Sew the neck tie the same as the waist ties, but leave the ends open and unfinished. Fold the top edges of the apron pieces toward the inside about a half inch.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comPin the neck tie in place with about an inch of each end tucked between the apron layers. Top stitch the neck closed and all the way around the apron with a 1/4-1/8″ seam allowance. The top stitch adds a little extra strength and gives a nice finished look to the apron.

You can stop here now if you want to….but we’re having so much fun! Let’s keep going and add some pockets.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comWith right sides facing, sew the two pocket pieces together with a 5/8″ seam allowance and leaving a 6″ opening at the bottom.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTo help get nice crisp corners on the pockets, or any time you’re sewing right angles, it helps to trim some of the seam allowance off the corner. But be careful not to snip your stitches!

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comFold the edges of the opening that you left inward and iron in place.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comTop-stitch a decorative border along the top edge of the pocket piece. Again, this is just adding another of those little finishing touches that will help make your apron look a little more pro.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com[ASIDE: This was a great project to practice my print matching skills. When I was cutting the pattern pieces I realized I didn’t want to cover this awesome print with a big solid colored pocket and it would look odd if the pocket print didn’t line up perfectly with the apron print underneath. So I took care to cut the pocket piece so that the prints on the two pieces would align.]

Center the pocket piece in the apron about 8″ from the bottom of the apron, or at whatever height feels comfortable for you. Top stitch around the bottom and two side edges leaving the top of the pocket open.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.com

The final step is to divide the pocket into small sub-pockets if you want. I found it easiest to draw a chalk line first as a guide to follow since my stitching has a tendency to get pretty wonky if I don’t have an edge to use as a guide.

Crafty Little Secret - DIY Apron Tutorial - www.craftylittlesecret.comAnd……………..done!!!

 

Oonapalooza: Tangerine Dream

Oonapalooza Sew AlongI’ve been on a really tight crafting budget lately and am trying soooooo hard to stick to it. When Oonapalooza came around I had just spent a chunk of change on some other projects. Looking at my stash full of solid knits I was bummed out and uninspired.

Then one magical day the San Francisco fog parted, the sky cleared and a beautiful ray of sunlight shone down on me illuminating a forgotten card in my wallet. What’s this?! A full Britex rewards card?! Worth $37 in free fabric?! How could I have forgotten such a thing?!!!!!

Oonapalooza Sew Along

This is the smug smile of a lady who made it work!

Obviously, I had some shopping to do.

I first had it in my mind that I would do a 70’s inspired denim skirt, maybe a Miette or something similar. But for some reason Britex had next to nothing in stock in their denim collection and time was of the essence. And heck, this was my excuse to experiment with color and prints! I kept searching the shelves and kept landing on the same fabric over and over.

Oonapalooza FabricOrange? Oh no, Eileen. You don’t do orange.

So I would go up and down the stairs, exploring the four floors at Britex, messing up the fabric bolts and sighing heavily. Then I’d come back to my tangerine dream.

Orange? Oh no, Eileen. You don’t do orange………but wait, what was Gillian’s advice again? Oh yes, to imagine Oona’s voice urging us on. So when I said “I don’t do orange” I heard a whisper from across the continent….”Oh yes you do!!!”

OonapaloozaI got it home and fretted about what to make. I was shocked that my husband approved of the print but when I told him my ideas of either a skirt or a dress his hat was thrown mightily into the skirt ring. “That would be a little too much on a dress”, he suggested.

Oh. Would it now? Are you sure it wouldn’t be just bold enough for Oonapalooza?!!! And so, a dress was born.

OonapaloozaBelieve it or not, this is actual the same pattern as my tie-dye maxi (a dress that Oona herself had emphatically supported), Vogue 8469. But in the spirit of fearlessness I decided to tackle my first ever major pattern alterations.

I did a full bust adjustment adding 2″ total, then altered the back piece to meet up with the now lengthened front bodice. Since I had the bare minimum amount of fabric to squeak this dress out I made a muslin first and found that the neckline and shoulder straps were a bit heavier than I’d wanted so I narrowed the straps and dropped the neckline by about an inch. I also added a random dart to close up the gaping armscye.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamAnd for some strange reason I decided to lower the back neckline to that exact point on the back that you Just. Can’t. Reach. This dress is nigh impossible for me to zip on and off by myself, folks. Also, it’s not totally evident in this photo but there’s a bit of weird sagging happening on either side of the zipper. I’m thinking about dropping this into a V and lowering it by a couple inches. Especially since I already perfectly placed the neckline so that my big ugly back scar is visible anyway.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamAnd I glossed over it a bit there, kids, but can we just pause for a moment and focus on how proud of myself I am for the bodice alterations! Baby fits like a glove now! As a busty lady, it can be tough to find clothes that fit over the girls but still hug your rib cage where it should and if one isn’t careful, one turns into a bit of a tube. With this dress, there is no mistaking the clear distinction between bust and waist. Heck, with the gathered skirt it even gives me a wee bit o’ hip!

My only regret with the dress that I will have to figure out some way to fix is that I managed to botch attaching the lining on one side of the bodice front, resulting in some serious twisty gapage.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamI hand stitched it down which helped a little but there’s still definitely something wonky happening there. I just don’t, at this moment, have the energy to rip so much out. Especially since I chose the worst ever most slippery scrap bits for the lining.

Oonapalooza: Tangerine DreamSo there you have it kids. My answer to the question; What would Oona do?

Summer Night Lights Geranium Dress

Geranium numero deux.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comThis one is a surprise gift for a friend’s little girl. I’ll be visiting next month and staying with them for a few days so I thought it would be a nice way to say ‘Thanks’. I went pretty simple on this one: simple neckline, no sleeves. Though I did add some piping to give a little separation to the bodice. 

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI actually made the piping myself and it was my first time doing so! I figured it would be too much of a pain in the butt to find matching piping so I just went ahead and cut about an inch and a half off the bottom of some leftover fabric and sewed up my own. It did end up getting a little wrinkled and bunched up in spots, I think either because I didn’t stitch tightly enough against the piping innards or because I improvised the innards (some of it was actually piping cord and some of it was just some elastic cord I had lying around that was about the same diameter). I probably should have exercised a little patience and watched a tutorial or two, but all in all I think it turned out pretty well.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI was taking forever trying to decide which fabric to buy (seriously consider this Fantasy Forest print from Michael Miller) and when I showed my husband the options he was like, “Pfft. No contest.” So I went with this Summer Night Lights print by Michael Miller. The fabric was a double-edged panel which was great because I only had to buy 1 yard of fabric total to sew this dress up in size 2T.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comAs with the last time I made the Geranium dress, since this was for a gift I wanted to finish it nicely. I also wanted to keep it a nice, cool summer dress and didn’t want to line it. Instead, I opted to finish the seam allowances with ribbon, a first for me!Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI’ve always admired how lovely finished seams look on other people’s projects and I gotta tell ya, I think it’s looking pretty slick here too. Maybe I’ll start finishing more of my projects this way.

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use pink buttons on the back closure because I thought it would nicely highlight the pink flowers in the bottom border print. Originally I wanted the buttons to be little pink flowers but they were all sold out of the ones I wanted at the fabric store and I’m far too impatient to look elsewhere!

Crafty Little Secret - Summer Night Lights, Geranium Dress - craftylittlesecret.com

Fabric: Michael Miller’s Wee Wander Summer Night Lights, Double Border Twilight
S
ource: Fabric.com
Yardage: 1 yard
Pattern: Made By Rae, Geranium Dress

Bronte Top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage: “Sangria”

Crafty Little Secret - Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs evidence of just how much I love this pattern, when I was working on this post I created a folder called “Bronte Tops” and put this one in the sub-folder “Sangria”. I’m just so sure that I’ll be making more of them!

Bronte is the newest pattern from Jennifer Lauren Vintage and she is the most flattering t-shirt EVER!!!!!! While I sewed up this Sangria Bronte within, like, 2.4 milliseconds after the pattern’s release, Jennifer is currently hosting a Bronte Sew Along with tons of tips for sewing with knits. So if you haven’t bought the pattern yet, here’s your excuse! (Jennifer is not paying me to say this and, in fact, has no idea who I am. I am just a girl who sewed this pattern and loves it.)

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte topJennifer suggests using a medium weight knit with good recovery and about 40% stretch for this pattern (a detailed description of how to choose your fabric is included in the pattern). It was perfect for some beautifully intense knit fabric my mom gave me for Christmas (along with the blue fabric I used on my Blue Afternoon skirt). With a beautiful color like this, I decided to name the top “Sangria”!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comAs is often the case, I forgot to transfer the pattern markings on half my top so I was guessing a bit with the shoulder construction. As you can see, it just doesn’t quite sit flat at my shoulders. You can see the pulling a bit where the front panel is sewn to the back (arrows).

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.comI opted to use some emerald knit left over from my Eva dress to add a little pop to the neckline and couldn’t resist sewing on a few little button details too. I knew I was saving those mini scraps for something!

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte TopOne of the things I love most about this top is the shape it gives me. I’ve got the bust handled, but from waist to hips I’m pretty much just a tube. The shape of this top is really very flattering from the back (even more so when I remember to adjust myself and smooth the wrinkles before taking photos!

Jennifer gives the option of using a twin needle to finish the hems and neckbands, which I took because I can’t resist the opportunity to use a twin needle. I found that my hem stuck out a little too far (I ended up taking 2″ out of the side seams at the bottom of the top) and the hems on my sleeves stick out in a bell shape a wee bit too. I’m not sure if this is due to using a heavy fabric or perhaps I am stretching my fabric as I sew? Maybe Jennifer will include tips about dealing with these hems during her Sew Along.

Crafty Little Secret - "Sangria" Bronte Top craftylittlesecret.coAnother final note on this pattern. I’m 5’10”, a little long in the body and I like my tops to hit mid-fly on my jeans. I added 2″ to the length of this pattern and it is pretty perfect.

Also, you’ve only got two more days to enter my Vintage Sewing Pattern giveaway celebrating my 100th blog post. Contest closes Wednesday June 25 at midnight (PST) and the winner will be announced Thursday June 26.

Now to go back to searching for the perfect print for my next Bronte top…..

Pattern: Bronte top by Jennifer Lauren Vintage

Total Time: Including cutting and modifications, about 4 hours
Fabric:
– 1.3 yards medium weight knit
– scraps from Eva dress for neckband
Size: 20
Modifications: 
– added 2″ to length
– took in waist by 1″ and hips by 2″