Saturday, January 3, 2015

DIY Tailor's Clapper

Alternate title: Avoiding a bubble hem in thick fabric. 

A few months ago when I made my wool Everyday Skirt, I noticed that I was having a hard time getting a good crisp fold on my hem. No matter how hard I pressed it, it still had a thick look and it didn't lay flat.

It definitely looked like a homemade skirt, and while I wore it to work a few times, the hem bothered me enough that I put the skirt on the bottom of my wear pile while I researched how to fix the problem. I did some research on Google and in my favorite sewing blogs and came across something called a tailor's clapper. It's a wooden pressing helper that creates really crisp hems. The problem is, they are around $20-30 and my local JoAnn's didn't have them in stock. 

I also found tutorials for how to make your own, which was much more my speed. I was pretty sure I could make it myself and spend less than ordering a ready-made clapper. I went to my local HD and poked around in their project wood section to see what they had available. I wanted a thick piece of hardwood, and I found a 3-inch thick piece of oak on clearance for $7! I had to get some sandpaper while I was there, so this project cost me about $12. My husband helped me cut my wood down to size (10 inches), and I sanded it down with my power sander. 

I cleaned off the sanding dust and brought it inside to test it out. 

I'd say it works pretty well! It's not as crisp as my cotton skirt, but it's a lot crisper than it was before. I'm pleased with how it turned out. And, I still have some wood left over to make another one if I need it. I'm looking forward to bringing this skirt back in to my winter office rotation!

Friday, December 26, 2014

A little holiday sewing

PSA: I'm writing from my iPhone, so any wonky spelling or formatting is due to that. 

This holiday season, I made two gifts: a bag for my sister and a holiday dress for H. I hadn't planned on making the dress, but I needed a project to distract me from the bag and it's need for multiple layers of interfacing. 

First, H's ice cream dress!

I'm really happy with how it turned out. The pattern is the Oliver & S Ice Cream Dress. I bought this back in the summer to make a dress with my stitch swap fabric, but the notched neckline got to me. This time, I left out the notch and the yoke turned out much better, even if I did sew it on backwards once. I love the fabrics I chose. They are basic poly satins, and the plaid fabric is poly satin with a velvet plaid on it. It's so luxurious, and better yet, it's machine washable! H picked out the fabrics (and by picked out, I gave her a choice of two and she lunged out of the cart at these). She's one-year-old and loves the fabric store #raisingthemright. I made it in the 6-12 month size, which was perfect in length for my peanut, but the neck hole was a bit of a tight squeeze. I will definitely make this again!

Here's the bag I made (to the left of the play kitchen):
Pattern; Amy Butler's Birdie Sling
Fabric: Outer, Nevermore collection, Michael miller; Top/handle, Robert Kaufman from stash; Lining, Cotton and Steel basics in gold. 

I love this bag pattern. I made one a few years ago for myself and it's still one of my go-to purses. Right now, it's my gym bag. I bent many pins sewing this bag because the handle fabric was so thick, but I hope that means that it stands up to the test of time. R loved it. She loves Edgar Allen Poe and when I saw this fabric, I had to get it for her. I finished this one up on Christmas Eve, a full week after her birthday (Sorry!). 

I love doing handmade gifts! Next year, I want to plan more for it. I'm making a quilt for my parents' anniversary in July, so I will start cutting fabric for that soon. I also want to try to salvage my Dahlia dress while I am on vacation. I'm going to see if I can make the Sorbetto bodice look nice on it. The tank top style looks much better on me than raglan sleeves. 

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dahlia: The Bodice

Well, it's been a month, that's for sure. I'm super behind on my sewalong. I got really sick earlier this month and it took a full two weeks to feel better. Then it was Thanksgiving. But I cut and mocked up the bodice of my Dahlia, and...I'm not pleased.

I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't have to do a bust adjustment. I have a large chest (40D) and a broad rib cage. I graded out from a 14 top to a 16 waist, and everything from the boobs down fit well. The shoulders, however, did not, as you can see above. See how much it gapes in the top picture? The neckline was so, so wide and was falling off my shoulders. In the bottom picture, I pinched a section out on one side and measured/marked it there and also on the other side. It's a bit better, but the neckline gapes quite a bit.

I've put my Dahlia aside for a bit so I can concentrate on holiday sewing. I've got a few projects on my plate: A holiday Family Reunion dress, a skirt for H, and a bag for my sister.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


Well, I've done it. I've decided to join a sewalong for the first time EVER!

Join the Dahlia Sewalong!

Honestly, I'm tickled to death. I signed up for the sneak peek of this pattern and decided that I had to have it. I've sewn my share of skirts for myself this year (most recently a lined wool Everyday Skirt), but I have been intimidated by dresses. Part of it is my physique: I have broad shoulders, a large chest (thanks nursing), and my ribs expanded during pregnancy, so I look very much like a linebacker these days.

For this sewalong, I'll be sewing a muslin and if I have time, a real dress at the same time. I have a wedding to attend in early December and I'd love to have a Dahlia ready to go. The dress code for the wedding is cocktail attire, and I've got my eye on a lovely silk-wool blend from Mood. My idea is to sew the top part in an ivory charmuse, with the band and the skirt being the silk-wool blend. This would save me some money on the fabric, as the blend is $45.99/yard. If I like the fabric and hand enough, I may splurge on two yards and make the entire dress out of the wool.

My goal is to blog about my experience during this sewalong and working with my first dress pattern. I'm very much hoping that this will turn out well, because it is beautiful and would be a great staple to have in my work wardrobe.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Selfish Sewing: Another Everyday Skirt

I didn't know it until this morning, but it's Selfish Sewing Week! It comes at the perfect time for me, because I need a distraction from the fact that my squish has decided to grow up and she turns ONE in 13 days.

Hold me.

Anyway, I've been working on some selfish sewing lately while I avoid doing the things that need doing when you have 30 people coming to your house. I decided to make another Everyday Skirt, this time in a beautiful purple herringbone wool blend. It's very similar to this fabric found at Mood, but I got mine at Hancock Fabrics. It's cheaper at Mood, but with shipping I probably would have ended up paying about the same price. I thought a lining was in order, as wool can be itchy, so I bought some wine colored poly satin from Hobby Lobby*. The Everyday Skirt has notches cut out for the pockets on the front, so I am in the process of underlining the skirt pieces, as seen below:
I cut the lining about an inch shorter than the main fabric to account for the hem. For about 3 seconds, I thought about handstitching a blind hem, but then I laughed and decided I wanted to wear this skirt this season. My thread choice blends in seamlessly, so I'll do the regular folded hem.

In related news, the oddest thing happened to me this weekend. I ran out of thread on my bobbin, and when I wound it back up, the bobbin warped! In seven years of sewing, I've never had something like this happen to me.
It looks a lot more dramatic in person, but it's hard to photograph it while keeping my hand steady.

So, that's what's up with me. I'm going to try to finish my skirt this week because I need to get started on a certain little girl's birthday banner this weekend. I also have grand plans to sew my own Halloween costume and Squish's costume as well. I'm going as Jenny Lee from Call The Midwife. She's going to be a witch. Tony is probably going to be something super scary. It's going to be a load of fun.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Latest happenings...

I've been a little remiss about updating this blog lately, for a few reasons. We've had a little remodel going on at the house, and now our bathroom looks like this:

I'll spare you the before picture, but it was truly ugly. Picture gold/white mottled lantern tile, an space hogging vanity with gray/white marble laminate, and a 1970's era toilet that had lovely rust stains in it. Actually, don't picture that. Just focus on the pretty picture above.

But! I wanted to let you know that I completed, entered, and picked up my quilt from the state fair! I had a bit of an emotional moment on my way there that had everything nothing to do with my fussy teething Squish in the back seat.

Here is the completed quilt! The quilt top looks a little wonky because I don't have a walking foot, but I'm asking for one for my birthday/Christmas. The back is a stash fabric that I got from Stephanie at Swoodson Says. I thought the colors played nicely with the front of the quilt and that the ladybugs were adorable. Take a look at that rod pocket! I sewed that on BY HAND (all caps to emphasize how major this is, because I hate hand sewing). I'm so proud of it. I bought a dowel rod so I could hang it up in my sewing room and admire it.

I went to visit my quilt at the fair on the last day. It was truly miserable, which is why my hair looks awful. It was 95* with probably 80% humidity.

Pretty neat! I did a little jump for joy when I found it. I had this irrational fear that my quilt would get disqualified for some reason, so when it wasn't hanging with the other quilts, I thought my fears had been realized. (Sidenote: I have weirdly small hands and I'm slightly miffed that my quilt was displayed upside down)

So that's what's been going on. I've started making an ice cream dress, but the notched neckline did not turn out like it should, so I'm ignoring it for awhile while I mull over what to do with it. I also want to sew pinch-pleated lined drapes for my living room, but the cost of that much fabric is really making me sweat. I also bought a new quilt pattern to make for my parents anniversary next year. Decisions, decisions.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Stitch Swap Project: A Mini Swoon Square

I'm really excited to participate in the Stitch Swap Round-up! My partner was the lovely Janelle. She sent me a yard of the most beautiful aqua Riley Blake fabric I have ever seen. It is something that is perfect, and yet I probably wouldn't have picked it out for myself. I love it. I had high, high hopes for using up my entire yard of fabric in projects for this post, but then I remembered that I have an infant. Since our partners were assigned, Squish has sprouted four more teeth, entered into a sleep regression, and fought a cold. Actually, she's currently fighting another teething fever, so it's been rough. She's also decided that the sound of the sewing machine warrants a wake-up, so I've had to find a new way to sew without bothering her. It involves running the exhaust fan in the bathroom to mask the sound of my machine, which works 75% of the time. Baby steps.

Anyway. As I brainstormed ideas for this project, I originally wanted to create matching mommy-daughter hats. There is a great pattern in Little Things to Sew for hats, but my adult head is too big for the largest size. I have another pattern for an adult hat in Simple Sewing, but there wasn't enough fabric for hats for both of us. Then, I decided to enter a quilt in the fair, and I decided to sew up some of this beautiful fabric into a quilt square! Since I'm sewing a mini Swoon, it was difficult to show a lot of the pretty birds in the square, but by choosing to use it as "color 2," I was able to feature them.

Pattern: Mini-Swoon
Fabric: Riley Blake Enchant Birds Aqua (Aqua), Random Red/White Fat Quarter from my stash, and Kona Cotton Snow (Background)

I'm behind schedule because I ripped apart the top left square. The seams weren't lining up and I wanted this to be as perfect as possible. The small pieces are hard to work with, but I am really enjoying seeing this quilt come together. I chose a patriotic theme with two brighter squares (this one and one other) and two more subdued squares. I don't know what I'm going to use to bind it, but I've got three weeks to figure it out. 

Check out the rest of the stitch swap posts below! The fun is going to last all week.


Monday July 21st 
Stephanie -- Swoodson Says
Jamie -- Salutations Louisville
Ashley -- Sewing Sober
Kathy -- Handmade Dress Haven
Tuesday July 22nd 
Tasha -- Friends Stitched Together
Janelle -- Emmaline Bags
Kim -- Sew & Tell with Mama Eggo
April-- Open Sky Creations
Wednesday July 23rd
Amy-- Friends Stitched Together
Danica -- The Sewing Sparrow
Bethany -- Two Novembers
Jessica -- The Berry Bunch
Thursday July 24th
Chrissy -- Muse of the Morning
Fenna -- Fabulous Home Sewn
Melissa -- Rebel and Malice
Irene -- Sugaridoo
Friday July 25th 
Jess -- Gracious Threads
Emily -- Tangible Pursuits
Roxanne -- Pensebrox
Megan -- Upcycling? Refashion That Idea.