Adding bands to tiny armscyes

I have a new grand baby.   I am smitten.  I want to make her all the things.  She has a ton of 3-6 month size clothing that were received as gifts, so I jumped on the opportunity to test a new tank pattern in her next size!  I learned a bit about sewing small that I would like to share.  There are several patterns here and several different kinds of fabrics.  It was a good learning experiment.

On this armscye I zig zag basted the band to the body of the top, on the edge, then serged and top stitched.  On later garments, I used the stretch stitch on my machine, and it worked much better.  Serging stretches out this rib knit.  I hope it recovers in the laundry!

Those armscyes are tiny.  With regular arm bands that measure about 8 inches, that is a less than a3 inch diameter.   It will be much easier to get round them with a sewing machine.  Experiment on scraps to find the best stretch stitch that works with your fabric.  I ended up happy with this one, which may be called an overcast stitch.

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It looks like a straight stitch from the outside, but those jags off to the right will add to the stretch and contain any seam allowance neatly.806415E0-783B-4A7A-8060-F80BFE698AB1

  1.  After sewing shoulder seams, top stitch them with the seam allowance towards the back.  It is my secret message to myself and parents, so we know which is the front and back of the garment.  It is often hard to tell and tags on a baby are not a place I want to go.D73538B4-2E41-4756-931D-E5FD682DFC02

2.  Figure the center of the armscye  location.  Hold the ends together, and walk them both to the fold.  Mark the center.  On a traditional tank, this could be really close to the shoulder seam.  On the example here, which is a racer back.  It is not at or even near the shoulder seam, but about an inch back.  Match up the center points, and sew a partial seam.  Start the partial seam about an inch to an inch and a half back from the center point.  Sew across the center point and about an inch to an inch and a half past that.  no need to stretch the band here, or maybe stretch slightly.  This will avoid that shoulder bubble that sometimes happens with tank tops. If you are using this technique for an adult size, you can make this partial seam longer, two inches on either side of the top of the shoulder will work fine.

Neckband sewn in the round, shoulder band partially attached.

3.  Then take those band ends, match them up right sides together (without twisting) and sew a seam across the ends (right sides together) to make the partially attached band into a loop.  I prefer to sew this with a machine, so that the seam can be opened to reduce bulk.  On this example I was using a performance knit for the bands, and my serger handled it much better.  The performance knit did not conform to the round shape as nicely as a cotton would.

4.  Sew the side seam of your garment.   I am happy to use a serger, but a regular machine stretch stitch will work here too.

5.  I like to sew one side seam then serge around the hem before sewing the next side seam.  makes the beginning and end of the serged edge less visible.

Yellow head pin holds body seam allowance to the back. Button headed pin holds band seam allowance to the front. actual seam is matched.

6.  Pin the folded band to the right side of the garment and finish sewing the armscye.  If both body and band seams are serged, move the seam allowances one way on the band, and the other on the garment.  I like the garment seams pointing back to follow the shoulder seam.  Since we did not stretch the band much on the top of the shoulder, take care to stretch without puckering round the rest of the circle.  Start your seam just a little before the last one ended, and overlap about a half inch before they meet up again.

Fuly sewn circle.

 

I serged one of the test garments afterwards, and that really stretched out the fabric.  It could bounce back after a trip to the laundry.  On an adult sized garment, serging the armscye might be a good idea. Can you tell which garment was stretched out with serging?

7.  Lastly top stitch the seam allowance to the body of the tank or tee.  It will help make that seam lay flat, and create less chafing on a little baby. I used my Bernina#20 foot here,  perhaps you have a foot with a guide?

 

 

I sewed a fun hem on one of the rib knit versions, and will try to write a post on that one later.  It is a favorite hemming technique with stretch. If you are interested in learning how to make a blind hem on the machine, check out this post.96DC9513-C715-48F6-818B-822E29FFE911

I used multiple patterns to experiment with this process.  And several fabrics, which is your favorite?

Affiliate links for favorite patterns that could employ this technique are below, if you are interested in supporting the cause, at no cost to you. I appreciate it!

Sara everyday tank and dress

Mandy fitted tank

Kids Taylor racerback

Adult Taylor racerback

Virginia tank

Spoxxy

Artemis

Happy sewing! Joan

 

 

Adding pockets

I recently tested the Sheila top  and dress from 5out of 4 patterns.  It is part of their basics line, and has very detailed instructions.  A well drafted T shirt dress is a great layering piece, easy to accessorize.

One thing.  I need pockets.  Life hands you keys or a wallet, or something else that needs a spot to be.  Purses are great, but I like to travel light. I sew pockets in everything.  This is my new favorite method.

I drafted my own pocket here, but if you have Taylor, that pocket will work just fine.

  1.  Cut 4 pockets. Two sets of two mirrored pieces.

2.  On the wrong side of your dress front, mark where you would like the top of your pocket opening.  I made this one about 8 inches from the armcye.  I think that ended up just a tad high.  Somewhere between 9 to 10 inches would be more comfortable.  Make your top mark or notch at this point, and the next mark will be 5.5 inches below that.

3.  Align one pocket so that the top of the pocket is one inch above that start mark with the right side of the pocket facing the right side of the dress front.

4.  Stitch from mark to mark, being sure to secure your stitches at each mark with 3-4 back stitches.

5.  Clip into the seam allowance just to the end of the stitches.

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The top and bottom of the stitching is marked with a notch.

6.  Open out that pocket and under stitch.  Understitching helps to roll the pocket to the back so it looks tidy in the next step.

7.  Fold the pocket and seam allowances to the right, and stitch parallel to the seam line 1/4 inch away, catching the pocket and seam allowances in your seam. Start and stop your seam parallel to the first seam made in step 4.   The pins mark the stop and start spots below.

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Pocket seam opened and understitched on pocket side, with seam allowances included. Stitching is 1/4 from the seam.

8.  Fold the pocket back to the wrong side of the dress front.  Pull the seam allowances out at the top and bottom of your pocket opening.  You will have a sweet 5.5 inch indentation in the side of your dress front that looks like the photo below.  This is your pocket opening!

 

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9.  Top stitch that indentation starting at the edge of the fabric sew in about 1/2 inch, and turn, so you are stitching about 1/4 inch from the 5.5 inch opening of the pocket, then turn again and stitch off the edge.  Your seam will look like this [.

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Top stitching on the pocket opening.

10.  Next align the second pocket with the first.

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Second pocket placed on top of the previously sewn pocket.

10.  Stitch the edges of the two pockets together around the bottom around the side and over to the top.

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Serged edges of pocket ready to be top stitched.

11.  Pin or use wonder tape to adhere the pocket to the front of the dress and top stitch around the edge of the pocket where the serging is in the above photo. Use a stretch stitch, consider a double row of stitches!

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The open toe embroidery foot works great for maintaining an even edge.

12.  Baste along the side seam, so that the edges of the top and bottom of the pocket are secured, and the opening is still open.

13.  Make the other pocket.  Tip:  lay your dress flat to be sure pockets are even and symmetrical before top stitching the second one.

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Finished pocket secured into side seam and front of garment.

14.  When you are ready, stitch your side seams as you normally would, making sure to sew right up to the opening without closing it.

Enjoy wearing your garment with stitched down pockets.  Want to continue sewing fancy?  Try out a blind hem.

This post may contain affiliate links.

 

Fat Quarter Bags

Looking for a fun and useful project for my beginning sewing students, I found a bag similar to this online, and decided to create a set of instructions that allowed for creative fun and interfacing/batting options. Make some as part of a holiday gift, or party favor.  School colors for a lunch bag would be fun too!

Ingredients:                           Makes two

Two coordinating fat quarters, two yards coordinating ribbon or twill tape for handles, and 12 to 14 inches of narrow ribbon, button and 6.5 x 7.5 scrap for optional pocket.  Optional interfacing/fleece/insulbright 9 x 21 inch for each bag.

First, trim off those selvages (look for selvage projects and keep them in your stash for later).   Cut your fat quarters in half to make two rectangles that are 9 x 21 inches.  Fat quarters are  cut into 22 x 18 inch rectangles, and you will want to start with fabric that does not have an up and down direction.  Or do not mind if your people are all on their sides 🙂 What is most critical here is that your bag and bag lining are cut the same size as each other.

Choose an interior.  Add interfacing/fleece/insulbright to your bag.  They all have wonderful and different qualities that will help the ultimate purpose of your bag.  Want to keep a baby bottle (or your water bottle/lunch/snack)  cool or warm, choose insulbright, it is amazing. First time project, fusible fleece is a little easier to handle once it has been fused to your fabric.  Just a bag for books, a few diapers/wipes/change of clothes, makeup to take you into evening, perhaps a nice interfacing will do the trick.  Experiment and have fun with it!

Cut your interior. InsulBright the same size as one of your bag rectangles.  Any fusible can be cut 1/2 inch smaller, and centered before fusing.  This will eliminate bulk in the seams.

Mark the strap placement.  On the short ends of one rectangle, measure in 2 inches and mark that spot on both sides.  Then mark the center line on one end.  This is where your straps will go.

Optional pocket.  I was lucky to have a nice sized scrap of a coordinating fabric.  Start with a rectangle 6.5 x 7.5 inches.  Fold down the top 6.5 inch across edge 1/4 inch and again 3/4 inches and press, then top stitch on the edge. Then press in 1/4 inch on the remaining three sides.

Center the pocket on the body of the bag with the fusible, and top stitch a line on the very edge and another a presserfoot’s width inside of that one.  The two lines of stitching will keep the top from pulling out.

Optional double ribbon.  place one yard of ribbon against another yard of the same width of ribbon wrong sides t and edge stitch both long sides.  Makes for a sturdier strap.  Cut into two 18 inch lengths and pin two inches in from each side of the top of either end of the bag. Baste this with a 1/4 inch seam.

On the other side, add the 6-7 inch narrow ribbon to the center of the bag and baste across the raw edge.

Place the rights sides of the interfaced bag and the bag lining together and stitch across the side with the ribbon in the center with a 1/2 inch seam allowance. On the other side, stitch from the edge to just past the first strap, and then pivot and stitch off the edge of the bag making an “L” shaped seam.  Make a similar seam on the other side, starting from the edge, and coming into the bag to the 1/2 inch seam allowance and pivoting to finish off the seam.  This leaves a nice opening for turning the bag right side out later.

Open the bag so that the seams you just made are in the middle and the interfaced bag is on one side, and the lining on the other.  Pin the seams together so that one goes left and the other right, and the actual seam nestles into the other seam.

Box Bottom measure up from the bottom fold 1.25 inch and in from the raw edge on the side 1.75 inches on all four corners of the bag.  Clip these lines. This made my bag bottom 3×5 inches.  If you want a more slender but wider bag, try cutting out the bottom squares one inch from the bottom fold and side seam line instead of one and a quarter inches.

On either long side of the bag, make a seam with a 1/2 inch allowance.   Then on each corner, bring the bottom fold to meet the center of the seam, closing off the corners.

Make a seam to close this opening with a 1/4 inch allowance.  Your bag will look like this when you are done.

Turn the bag right side out.  Pull the bag lining through first.

Then the remainder of the bag.  Slip the interfaced part of the bag inside the lined part and edge stitch all the way around to fully close off the opening.  The “L” seam you made earlier makes this job go more smoothly.

Hand sew a button on to either  side opposite the area where the center ribbon is, so that you can close your bag.  Snaps would also be fun here too.  It is always a good idea to prewash, or use Color Catchers the first wash!

Now go forth and make the second bag.  They make great gifts!   Think small essentials bag.   Perhaps a project in progress bag.  Consider bags in different sizes.  

 

 

 

It is in the bag!

Simple formula for lined bag with your choice of size, handle and closure!  So easy it is already “in the bag”.

 

Working with new sewists, I am continually on the look out for quick to make and clever useful projects.  More experienced seamsters can whip these out in batches. Early in the game sewists can experience easy success!    Teacher gifts, party favors, so many uses!  I am considering small bags from theme fabric to house a bar of hand made soap for an upcoming bridal shower.

Start with scraps if you like.  You will need two same size longish rectangles.  The formula is as follows:

Desired bag width plus 1 inch for seam allowances.  Desired height of bag times 2.5 to 2.75 for a generous flap.  If you have a specific item to bag, measure it now!

Play around with what you have on hand to start with and have some fun!

Right sides together, with a quarter inch seam allowance, sew both rectangles along one short side.

Open this.  Press the seam allowance towards the lining, and under stitch.  Under stitching will roll the seam towards the lining so this edge looks really clean.

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View of back side of bag after under stitching and top stitching!

 

Press and top stitch with a fancy stitch if you like.  If you plan to close your bag with hook and loop tape, include one side of the tape along the edge of the front of your bag now.

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For a firmer flap add a bit of fusible interfacing!

Align your work and trim off any excess fabric that may be caused by the under stitching.    With right sides together, pin the pieces together and draw a fancy shape for the flap, or leave it straight.  A hex ruler might be a nice tool to keep both sides symmetrical.  Stitch this seam.  A straight seam would under stitch nicely!

Optional “wrap” the corners of your fancy cut flap.

Make a strap!  A 14×3 inch rectangle folded rst lengthwise, stitched with a quarter inch seam turned and top stitched works great.  As does ribbon, webbing or twill tapeimage

Pin your strap that has been folded in half with raw edges aligned to the raw edges of the bag and the folded edge towards the center of the bag.  Set it just below where your flap ends and the bag begins so that it ends up near the top of your bag.  Baste in place.  In the photo my strap raw edges extend past the raw edge of the bag. This adds security and keeps the selvages on the strap from showing on the finished bag.

 

 

Now on for the tricky part:  See above, pull the bottom of the bag so that it covers the strap.  Pin the bag (both layers) to the outside cover only of the front of the bag on the right and left sides.  Then slip the lining of the bag over the front of the bag.  This basically turns the bag wrong side out and the lining will form a loop on top with the outer bag also forming a loop on the bottom.  The bag portion will be tucked up into the flap, but only just past the strap.    The remainder will be the flap.  If you are creating a specific size bag to fit a particular item.  Now is the second good time to measure.  (The first would be before you cut the fabric.) In the photo I used clips, as I had lined these bags with PUL.

 

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Side seam stitched with “L” seams!

Align right sides together, and make a 3/8 inch seam along this edge.  Making sure to back stitch over the strap to secure it.

Make sure the second side of you bag is lined up and symmetrical to the side you just sewed.

Create two “L” seams along this edge.  Start at the top and just about a half inch after you sew across the many layers of the sides of the bag.  Pivot and stitch to the edge creating a seam that looks like the capital letter “L”.  Then a few inches later along this edge, make another “L” seam that serves two purposes.  It leaves a clean and sturdy opening for turning and finishes the side seam of the bag.  A small bag needs a smaller opening than a larger bag.

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Second half of “L” seam!

Suggested ratio would be to leave an opening half the length of the bag side.

 

Flip it the bag right side out, this may take multiple flipping to be sure the lining is on the inside.  Poke out corners with a handy tool (chopsticks work great here!).  Pin the opening closed with the raw edges neatly tucked inside.  Top stitch narrowly to ensure that the opening is securely closed.

 

Complete the closure by adding the other half of the hook and loop tape to the inside of the flap, or add snaps, buttonholes and buttons, or whatever makes your heart happy. Kam Snaps make my heart happy!  I get mine locally at Hip Stitch and would be glad to show you how easy they are to apply.  A pattern with measurements, and possibly kits will be available in July 2016.

This makes a great snack bag, holiday gift bag, cosmetics, or think fusible fleece for an electronics bag.

Happy sewing!  Joanimage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Variations on the “fly”

I can’t tell you how many times I have made up a pair of boxers from the First Choice boxer pattern, or how many copies I have purchased.  It is far and away my family’s favorite.

Lets face it, there comes a time when your kids will no longer wear something “Mom made” out in public.  That is a sad day for those of us with a need to sew. Years ago when we were potty training, I saw so many cute novelty fabrics at my LQS, that I just had to make something.  Then I found the First Choice Boxer pattern, and made up a few pairs for my 3 year old son.  I was tickled to find fabric with Scooby Doo and Blues Clues. He was intrigued with the fly.  They were sweet, cute, and he would wear them, not much else but, his older sisters were glad that he was not running around starkers like a 3 year old would given the choice. These fit the bill as they are not meant to be worn in public, and serve well as PJ or lounge wear.

Ironically, this turned into a long pair from flannel, and both daughters begged me to make them as gifts for all their friends, who in their teens would wear them in public.  Luckily now we are past that stage too.

My youngest is soon off to college and I let him know recently that we will need to weed out some of his older, now capri length and way too small pj pants as they are not fit to be seen in by someone other than his parents. And that is debatable.  Dug through my flannel stash and picked out a few pieces that would be acceptable “lounging around the dorm” pants.

Even more ironic, they make a great split slip for me (or pj pants) when lengthened and made from a lovely batiste or voile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sewing Green

So it is only mid-November, but the fire drill has started.  Any crafter, or person who leans towards making holiday gifts, has  been feeling the pressure for a while now.  The list making, supply shopping, material gathering…. It starts early, even before the first holiday decoration goes up at Hobby Lobby, we crafters are planning for the holidays.

Crank the pressure dial up a notch if you are planning for one or more craft shows.  Let the power sewing begin, and why didn’t I start working on this in August?  The pressure increases exponentially when your closest family members have birthdays during the holidays.  Gotta craft double time to show them the sewing love they deserve.

Today I worked on some really cheesy holiday fabric that I had promised myself that I would get to -at least a portion of -this year.  Looking back it must have been double discounted when I purchased it years ago.  Blue, lots of blue, blue ornaments with white deer on a blue background.  Tiny white reindeer on a navy background, white snow flakes on a blue checked background.  Azure dreidels on white.  These had all been culled from the stash and cut into various squares.

With the promise of easy reusable holiday/birthday wrap, I used  directions from a pattern I put together for an origami napkin.  The plan was to use (really use up) some holiday fabric on one side, with a not so holiday coordinate on the other side.  This way the wrapping could be used multiple times in a year.

These are like dinner napkins, but ginormous, over a yard across.  Perfect for a table topper, or furoshiki.  A great way to use some of that “what was I thinking” fabric, and turn it into something cool.  Green to use what you have, and green to use it for more than one occasion and even greener to use year after year.  Kind of like unpaper towels.  You can find the free pattern in Stashed,  here.

Hope I have inspired you to pull from your stash and make something green and cool for the holidays.