Eat My Cake and Sew it Too

The lovely and beautiful Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network have officially declared today, July 28, 2013, Let Us Sew Cake Day.  This group is a wonderful and talented bunch of sewists that I have met through the blogosphere and they constantly have such great sewalongs, ideas and meet-ups.Let Us Sew CakeSo, in honour of this prestigious day, I have sewn Cake Patterns Cabarita Knit Top as well as eaten the better part of an entire sugar flower covered cake!  Wisely, I coordinated my cake with my Cabarita Top, because to not have done so, would have been rather gauche.  Cabarita Top Front and BackI love the collar piece as well as the v-neck back of this knit top.  It really elevates a T-shirt into dressed up wear, so simply and easily.  The back is also drafted to be cut on the bias and Steph recommends to keep it that way so that it hugs the curves of your back.  My fabric was on the thicker side and quite crisp, so I did not interface the cabarita front collar piece, but would have if I had used a softer and flowy fabric.

Prepping to Cut CakeThe only alteration I made was to narrow both the front and back sleeve by removing 5/8″ (1.5cm) from the bottom of each sleeve.  I had to then shorten the sleeve binding accordingly.  This way, the sleeve hugged my arm perfectly.  It’s easy to figure out a custom measurement for you, simply by measuring your bicep, around where the sleeve ends.

My Cabarita Knit TopThe only thing I would do differently next time, is to attach the sleeve binding after I had sewn the side seams.  The patterns calls for you to attach it first, but I find it more difficult to line up the cuff at the seams that way and also, any seam finishing you do, may be more visible since it extends down to the bottom of your cuff.

Floral Cabarita TopI like how the front rolled collar and V-neck back really bring the emphasis up to your face and upper half. If you used contrasting sleeve and neck bindings and collar piece or reversed the stripes in a striped fabric, this would play it up even more. The next one I make, I’d like to try contrasting pieces.
Cabarita BackThe V-neck back is very streamlining and I really enjoy the surprise of it and the symmetry it provides my back.Can't Wait to Eat That Cake

One of the unique aspects of this pattern is that you ‘draft’ your own size based on your bust, waist and hip measurement.  I chose to make mine with zero ease and using my exact measurements, but you can also choose to give it more ease by selecting a larger measurement for each area.Tea With Cake

And, you’ve seen him lurking around in the background of the above pics, but it’s likely no surprise that Kitty also enjoys Cake.Kitty Enjoying CakeI highly recommend to eat your cake and sew it too!!

I was also recently interviewed by Mel at A Curious Kiwi for Indie Pattern Month.  Check out her post, here.  Thanks Mel!

If Jerry Garcia Were A Surgeon…

Tunic with Seashell PocketsI needed to create my final top project for my Garment Construction class, so decided to make Simplicity 8133.  simplicity 8133It is not the most flattering of patterns, but my mum got it free up north at a tag sale somewhere AND it fit all the criteria for the assignment, so I decided to make version E, without the ties.  I selected fabric I already had in my stash, a brushed cotton in a lime/olive green and orange with a floral/camouflage pattern.

tunic and pocket fabricWhen I sewed up the top, it looked EXACTLY like a medical scrubs top.  Only one that a totally tripped out doctor from the late 60s/early 70s would wear.  There was no way around it.  I set about attempting to remedy the situation.

My good friend, Chris Lucas pointed me in the direction of the Pavlova skirt she made and the fabulous Seashell Pocket on it.  I downloaded this pocket pattern from Stephanie at Cake Patterns and added two of them to the front of the tunic.  I love these pockets, they are adorable, actually look like seashells AND are functional, to boot.  Cake Seashell PocketThis is not the last you’ll see of them in my Made By Me wardrobe.  I then added fabric covered buttons to the pockets as well as buttons to the tunic where a “placket” would be.  Fabric covered buttons in pocket fabricThe colours were still a little too, in your face Deadhead, so I dyed the whole thing (including pockets and fabric covered buttons) with a dark brown dye to tone it down.  And, to top it off, I wore it with a scarf, chain metal belt.  Tunic with Seashell Pockets and Belt

Nurse Ratched

“My Nurse Hat is Too Big…”

So, after all these embellishments, does it still look like a medical scrubs top??? Yes, yes it does.  :)  And, I will be seeing YOU, for your upcoming surgical needs at the 1970 – Grateful Dead, Keep On Truckin’ – Memorial Hospital.  Ask for me.    Complimentary lava lamp in every room

Truckin’ by the Grateful Dead.

“What a long strange trip it’s been.”

Sewing Dare Done: Ikea Fabric + Butterick 5285

Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt FrontI was recently charged with a sewing dare sewing daresby Jagoda from FitNottoFit to sew something for myself to wear out of this Ikea Fabric.  sewing dareYou can see the post here.

I decided to make a skirt from Butterick B5285. butterick 5285 2 I made View B, which has two box pleats in the front and back, a back zipper and side seam pockets.Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Front 3

It was quite easy to make, (save for my brand new (to me) vintage overlocker eating my first skirt, both front and back pieces.  I had to start all over again.  And, the second skirt, the waistband was too big, so I had to make a new one.)Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt BackThe only real difficulty I found was with the box pleats.  It took so much time, measuring and ironing them, then lining up the next pleat so that it did not overlap the first one, making sure the pleats were the same size, etc.  This actually took longer than constructing the skirt.  It was much more challenging to get these box pleats even and flat from top to bottom than it was for knife pleats, like those found in versions C and D.  Is there a trick / secret to making box pleats?  If you know of one, please share!Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Front 4I do really like the way the box pleats layer the fabric and allow the large floral print on it to peek through and make all kinds of abstract and colourful designs on the skirt.  I think it really utilized the fabric to its full potential, adds an extra element of design and creates an interesting composition.  I am quite pleased with that aspect.  And, of course, POCKETS!!!!  ‘Nuff said.  I submitted it for my skirt project in sewing class and received 20 out of 20 (100%).  :)Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt and KittyAnd, I have seen so many photos of you lovely garment makers twirling in your skirts, so here goes:

Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt Twirling 4Ikea Fabric B5285 Skirt TwirlingTwirling is THE BEST!!!!  And, it really shows the layers of colour and abstract floral patterns underneath the box pleats.

Kitty Likes Measuring Tapes

Kitty Likes Measuring Tapes

Bowie Sewalong Make – And it GLOWS IN THE DARK!

Fabric, Notions and Kitty, Ready to Go

Fabric, Notions and Kitty, Ready to Go

So, I have finally finished my project for Bowie Sewalong.  The lovely and unique Tempest Devyne, from FanBloomingTastic has been the gracious host of a Bowie Sewalong, a sewing group dedicated to everything David Bowie.  She has been so great about posting music, information, movie clips, it’s been great fun following along!

I remember when I was young, single digits years old, and my brother and I went to camp in the summers.  And all the camp counselors listened to David Bowie and Supertramp.  At that age, there are really no cool cliques at school or with your friends yet, so, the camp counselors were the very first “Cool Kids” encounter for me. So, I took what they gave very seriously.

Is Bowie the best singer around?  Definitely not.  The best musician? Not really.  But, can Ziggy Play Guitar??? Oh Yes, you bet.  He is such a performer and free spirit and I love the personas he takes on and how unapologetic he is about them.  His creativity knows no bounds and the key underlying theme is to express himself, any way he sees fit.

Bowie Sewalong Skirt at Piano

My contribution for the sewalong is a wrap-around skirt, that I designed and sewed myself, with no patterns or instructions.  I really wanted to ‘wing it’ for this project, as it seemed the perfect time to try my hand at something unique and off the cuff.Bowie Skirt Full View, Wrap, Front, Ties, Back  I have no idea if it’s drafted, put together or sewn ‘correctly’ and, in fact, have never made a wrap skirt before.  But, that was the point of the exercise, to channel the Bowie Spirit and just let it roll!

The skirt references, not only the ’70’s, when they were so popular, but all things Space that David Bowie was interested in during that decade, including Space Oddity, Life on Mars, Starman, even Ziggy’s last name was Stardust.  It was definitely a huge theme in his art.

I found two scarves in my parent’s basement (we can call them vintage) that depict a map of the universe with the entire night sky, including stars, galaxies, planets and horoscope signs.  I used these scarves for the back panels of the skirt and then added a fabric that looked like the sky with stars and planets all over it for a smaller, front panel.  I added some tucks to front and back for shaping, a bit of a waistband, and, of course, embellished with bright red chevron and silver trims.Bowie Skirt

And, the best part?  The scarves glow in the dark!!!!  The whole night sky lights up in the dark and glows on my backside!  This just felt ‘right’ for a Bowie sewalong. :) I wanted to offset the universe pattern on the scarf, so that the entire night sky was not centred perfectly on my backside.  Something about that thought, just didn’t quite jive.Bowie Wrap Around Skirt Back View

Bowie (on shelf) and I

I love this video, it really depicts Bowie’s inner geekdom.  Doesn’t he look like guys from your high school and not a ‘rock star’?

Charging My Skirt Backside

Charging Up My, uh, Backside with a Lamp to Get its Glow on! As you do. Don’t you? Maybe it’s just me then.

Proud To Be Charm School Reject

Proud To Be, Charm School Reject

For his contribution, Kitty made a chevron choker and blinged it up with gold and pearl studs and gold and silver appliques, as well as a huge remove-able charm.  Kitty channels Bowie easily and is and always will be, proud to be a Charm School Reject.Kitty's Bowie Chevron Choker with Stars and StudsKitty's Bowie Chevron ChokerKitty's Chevron ChokerProud To Be The Charm School RejectSkirt Back Close UpBowie Skirt Sitting DownPlaying Piano in Bowie Skirt

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.

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.

A Skirt in Two Rectangles

Two Rectangle Skirt

This skirt is likely the easiest style to sew.  It is really just two rectangles plus an elastic waist.  You can put a belt over the elastic waistband casing to finish it off and make it look a tad more complex than it really is.  The fabric I used was a stretch cotton sateen, which gives it a heavier drape and a lovely sheen.  I have seen these in every beginner sewing book and everybody has their favourite way of constructing them.  Here is an outline of the steps that you can adjust to suit your own tastes.

Skirt in two rectangles

First, you measure out two rectangles, the length that you desire the skirt to be plus about 4 cm (2′) for the double folded hem and another, approximately 4 to 6 cm (1.5 to 2.5″) for the waistband casing, depending on how wide you want your elastic.  For more on how to construct a waistband casing, click here.  The width of the rectangle will be your waist measurement, plus anywhere between 5 to 25 cm (2 to 10″) depending on how much you want the skirt to gather and how much “give” or stretch there is to the fabric you have chosen.  Keep in mind, if you have very curvaceous hips, then you will have to leave enough room to be able to pull the skirt on over them to get it to your waist.  The width of the elastic will be up to you, but you will have to adjust the waistband casing accordingly, and the length of the elastic will be your waistband measurement minus about 5 cm (2″).  Pin it and try on first, for comfort.

Elastic Waistband Casing

Elastic Waistband Casing

Then, you sew the two rectangles together, giving two side seams, and double fold the hem.  For this, you fold up the hem 1 cm (half-inch) and press, then fold up another 1 cm (half-inch) press and topstitch close to the edge.  After this, you fold back the top of the skirt about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch), press and fold over again the width of your elastic, plus about 0.5 cm (quarter-inch).  Sew around the skirt, making a casing and leave a 5 cm (2″) opening.  Thread elastic though this casing, sew the elastic ends together then stitch the casing closed.  Done!  It takes no time at all, and makes a very simple yet appealing and easy to wear skirt.