Easy A-Line Skirt

A Line SkirtI completed this A-Line skirt in the same way as the two rectangle skirt, only instead of rectangles, these quadrilateral shapes are actually isosceles trapezoids (to be precise).  Yes, that’s the math/science nerd in me leaking out.  It’s really one of the reasons why I love sewing and pattern making.  The geometry involved delights me to no end.  :)

But, now that you’ve finished rolling your eyes and being embarrassed for me, here is some information about the A-Line skirt.

A Line Skirt 2

I used fabric with a one way pattern on it, so I actually had to cut it across the grain instead of with the length grain (following along the selvage) so that the pattern would go vertically up and down the skirt.  I’m not sure how much this affects the integrity of the skirt, but how else do you use these directional prints?  If you cut along the length of the grain, the pattern would be lost.

A Line Skirt Flare

A Line Skirt Flare

With respect to the A-Line, you can add as much flare at the bottom as you wish.  Basically, after you’ve made a rectangle, add another two triangles on either side of it to create a wider, flared bottom.

I also added a belt in the same fabric to disguise the elastic waistband casing.  To learn more about how to sew a fabric belt with buckle, click here.  I sewed on belt loops, also in the same fabric to hold the belt in the right place.

Fabric Belt and Belt Loops

Fabric Belt and Belt Loops

And, I bought a self cover belt buckle, where you cover the buckle with fabric of your choice.  I think it’s a good investment (and very inexpensive) as it really ties the belt in with the skirt.  With such a busy pattern, I didn’t really want the belt and buckle to stand out more than the skirt.

Sewing Gifts Completed. Happy Holidays!

I have finished all my holiday gift sewing, but cannot post any of the projects or photos here quite yet, due to possible prying eyes…..

So, instead I will share with you how I made my very first lined tote bag out of all rectangle shaped pieces.  It was easier than I thought and came out quite professional looking.  Please see my post (Scene in Rectangles – Lined Tote Bag) for instructions and photos.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Season’s Greetings and Peace and Joy to Everybody!  I hope you are all surrounded by love and happiness and a warm, furry kitty or puppy doesn’t hurt either.

It's Cold Out There.  Suit Up!

It’s Cold Out There. Suit Up!

Scene in Rectangles – Lined Tote Bag

Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles

Tote Bag Comprised Entirely of Rectangles

Inside Patch Pockets

Inside Patch Pockets

I’ve discovered that there are many simple projects that can be completed using only squares or rectangles as your pattern pieces. This makes measuring and cutting out your pattern quite simple and you also only sew straight lines.  One project I completed, is a lined tote bag complete with inside pockets.  The pattern is based on instructions from the book Sewing in a Straight Line by Brett Bara (City Girl Tote).  I modified it to include two inside pockets and a magnetic snap closure.  All the pattern pieces used in this tote consist of rectangles that you draft yourself.

Two rectangles of a cotton canvas duck were used for the outside, each were 81cm X 51 cm  (32″ X 20″).  Make sure you square your lines when drafting your rectangles using either a triangle, T-square or even a square quilting ruler.  Two rectangles of medium weight cotton fabric were used for the lining with two smaller rectangles of lining fabric for patch pockets, one on each side.  Both the exterior tote and the lining have boxed corners to provide more shape and structure to the tote.  For more information on boxing corners, click here.  Two smaller rectangles comprised the facing at the top of the tote and four long rectangles of the lining fabric, along with fusible interfacing made up the handles.

Lining and Facing

Lining and Facing

Eight pieces of grosgrain ribbon (two for each handle) were sewn on with zigzag stitching to add some design interest.  Coincidentally, the cut ribbon also consisted of very long rectangles.  The lining was attached using the “bagging” method. This method is not too difficult and professional looking.  For more information on how to line using the bagging method, click here.

You can then add a magnetic snap closure to the inside facing and you have a sturdy, roomy tote to take shopping.

A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip

A Roomy Tote, Equipped to Handle A Shopping Trip

Easy Embellished Scarf (with yo-yos)

I found some fabric in the ‘ends’ bin that I had to have.  The labels in these bins always say “100% unknown fibre content” which makes them all sound so mysterious and exotic, but it is very likely 100% polyester satin.  However, one side is a smooth pale green and the other side is a pale textured aqua with a sheen and it could very easily pass for dupioni silk!

Scarf

I didn’t have a lot of the fabric and wanted to showcase both sides of it, so I made a scarf.  I cut a rectangle, double folded the hems on all four sides, about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch) and added some machine embroidery along both short ends.  My machine is not fancy in this regard but there are a few options to choose from.  If you look closely, you can see the one I selected consists of tiny rectangles joined together to form a herringbone line.  herringbone embroiderySince the material is thin, the larger satin stitches I tried on it made it pucker too much.  I have since bought water-soluble backing to use in future machine embroidery projects to see if that makes a difference.

I added some fabric yo-yo’s (remember yo-yo’s?) as embellishment in different sizes, using both sides of the fabric.  I also sewed on some matte aqua buttons in the centres of some of the yo-yo’s. scarf yo-yo embellishments On the opposite sides of the yo-yo’s, I attached some coordinating buttons.  This was to provide some stability as well as disguise the thread used to attach the yo-yos to the scarf.  I wasn’t sure how else to do this, so I chose the buttons.  If you know of an alternative method, please let me know.  Scarf backside with label

And, voila, a scarf!  I think it makes polyester look far more elegant than it probably should.

Fashion Illustration for Non-Illustrators (or Help Me, I Can’t Draw)

Fashion Illustration is an important part of the process in designing your own fashions and garments or even working out how to sew a pattern.  Problem is, not everybody can draw and yes, I know, I’ve taken beginner drawing classes before and they all say “everybody can draw” and that’s very true.  However, the human body including draped and folded fabric are really not the easiest subjects to begin with if you are just starting out.

I was reading a post by Tulle and Tweed, which discussed the importance of being able to sketch your fashion and sewing projects and ideas and I agree wholeheartedly.  It ignites the creative process, allows you to solidify and expand on anything you have dreamed up, or can even help to solve a problem you’ve had with putting things together.  But, I noticed from the comments that many people were afraid to attempt illustrating since they were not artists and felt they could not draw.  Present company included in this sentiment.

I’d love to be able to just quickly sketch out an idea and have it look realistic and fabulous, but, let’s face it, a wee bit of practice and instruction may be necessary for the non-artist.  I just purchased a book that has been very helpful in this regard.  It is “The Manga Artist’s Workbook” by Christopher Hart.

Drawing the Figure

Drawing the Figure

It is an instruction book, sketchbook and tracing book all in one.  And it is small enough to pack into any size bag to tote along with you, so you always have it should inspiration strike.  It is really a guide on how to draw Manga characters, but the basic techniques are the same for fashion illustration and figures.

Instructions on How to Draw Figure Head

Instructions on How to Draw Figure Head

There are sections for how to draw the head, face and hair and sections on how to draw the body in various positions and stances, including proportion and angles.

Clothing on Figure in Various Positions

Clothing on Figure

These figures are called croquis in fashion illustration.  The end of the book shows clothed characters and how to illustrate garments on your figure.

Included are blank graphed pages so that you can try your hand at what you’ve just learned, using the squares of the graph paper to help you plot out the image.  As well, Tracing paper is overlain on some pages so that you can trace the image or even use the page as a guide and draw clothing or accessories over the image.

Tracing Paper Overlay

Tracing Paper Overlay

I also customized my copy of the book.  I added copies of figures and poses and clothing from other sources on some of the blank graphed pages in order to copy these for practice and use them as a starting point for ideas.  The following illustrations were taken from The Encyclopedia of Fashion Illustration Techniques by Carol A. Nunnelly and added to the sketchbook. 

Customized Page with Added Photos of Croquis in Fashions

Customized Page with Added Clothed Croquis Drawings

Customized Page with Added Croquis in Fashions

Customized Page with Added Clothed Croquis Drawings

In addition to this, I added some tracing paper overlays to pages that did not have any, so that I could either trace the image or add my clothing ideas over top of the image.

I am much more confident now in trying my hand at fashion illustration and figure drawing with the help of this book.  I can still use it like a sketchbook to illustrate ideas but I also have all these guidelines, instructions and tools included, so that I don’t feel too intimidated to go ahead and begin drawing, sketching and illustrating.

Customized Page with Added Photos of Croquis and Added Tracing Paper Overlay

Customized Page with Added Croquis Pictures and Added Tracing Paper Overlay

How to Construct a Waistband Casing

A waistband casing consists of a tunnel sewn to accommodate a drawstring or elastic at the top of a skirt or pants and at the waistline of a dress.  A casing can also be used at the hems of sleeves and pants.  You will need to fold the fabric towards the wrong side and press about 0.75 cm (quarter-inch), then fold down again the width of the elastic or drawstring, plus about 1 cm (half an inch).  Sew the casing closed, all along the garment, leaving a 4 cm (2″) opening.  Optional:  You can also edgestitch all the way around the top of the casing.  This flattens out the gathers at the hemmed edge and neatens the look.

Bodkin with Drawstringand Safety Pin with Elastic

Bodkin with Drawstring
and Safety Pin with Elastic

Using either a bodkin or a safety-pin attached to one end of the elastic or drawstring, thread the item through, being careful not to pull the opposite end into the casing.  For an elastic, overlap the two ends about 1 cm (half-inch), sew together and insert back into casing.  Adjust gathers and sew the casing closed.  For a drawstring, you will need to insert two buttonholes, approximately 2 cm (1″) apart at the front of the garment, within the casing, in order for both ends of the drawstring to exit and be tied.  The buttonholes can be placed so that the drawstring exits at either the inside or the outside of the garment.

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

Waistbands with Elastic Casing (left) and Drawstring Casing (right)

You can also add a casing of different fabric, instead of folding down the fabric of the existing garment.  For this, you would do as above, but instead of adding the amount you calculated for the casing onto your original fabric, you would measure this amount onto the new fabric and cut it out.  You will also have to add another 0.5 cm (5/8″) or whatever is your seam allowance, as you will be attaching the casing to your garment.