Category Archives: Tops

The Finish Line — a poll

I posted the picture of my sashiko rocket on Facebook and my sister checked it out.  It’s in the same album as my other sewing pictures and she saw the picture of the top I made for Katie in February.  She commented on both pictures, but for Katie’s top she asked when Katie was going to receive it.  Yeah, I know, it’s been three months since I finished sewing that top, but there were some finishing tasks that I wanted to complete before giving it to Katie, like sewing down the zipper at the sides (it’s not a lined top), adding the hook and eye, sewing a binding on the seam that joins the halter top to the body of the top so that it does not scratch Katie’s torso and last but not least, sew on my “handmade by elizabeth” tag.  All are minor details, but for some reason, not as satisfying to me as actually sewing the pieces of the garment together.

So it seems that I have a dislike of “finishing” in sewing just like I do in knitting.  By finishing, I mean all the little niggling details that will finish off a garment so that you can wear it comfortably and that make it look nicer on the inside, like seam binding or adding hooks and eyes.  For knitting, that means weaving in the ends of the yarn, seaming the pieces together, adding buttons, etc.  I just loathe those parts of knitting, and now I do with sewing too.  I want the magic parts only, the parts where a two dimensional piece of fabric suddenly becomes a wearable three dimensional garment. 

It’s not that I don’t want my clothes to look nice on the inside, I do.  But, that’s not what gets me excited to sew.  So poor Katie’s top languished in mostly done status for months.  It’s a size 3 T which in theory should fit for at least a year, but it looks pretty small right now.  Hopefully my sister will let me know if it fits or not soon.  I crept upstairs to her floor last night and left the top (all finished, inside and out!)  hanging on her door knob.

So let’s do a poll!  What kind of a sewist/person are you?  Do you love doing all the finishing details on your projects, or do you just slap it together to wear it the same day?  Answer the poll and we’ll find out!

Please note that I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pinking shears.  I have a gorgeous high end vintage skirt that has pinking on the seam allowances.  I just know that it’s fast.  And I wish I were more of perfectionist.  Part of my problem is that I don’t have enough sewing experience  to know when to add different finishing touches in regards to the order of construction.  Or even if I have to add larger SA’s to accommodate french seams and the like. 

And as for the long awaited post on Day 3 of my class with Kenneth King, I might have to post that with Day 4 as I have yet to take a picture of the sloper before the fitting class.  I hope to do so tonight.  I also have to baste in the zipper.  But both will have to wait until after I see Star Trek for the second time!!!  A trekkie has to have her priorities!  My friend Andrea has graciously come to the rescue of this poor single parent and is babysitting Jack for me tonight in exchange for some baked goods.  I am paying a buttload in babysitting $$$ this month to take the class, so I can’t really justify paying one just to see a movie, but this isn’t just any movie.  Anyway, Andrea is making my day, my month, my year!  Thanks Andrea!!!


It happened last night

Doesn’t that title sound so dramatic?  Sorry if I disappoint you, but I spent my evening last night perusing my patterns and Burda magazines searching for a replacement pattern for my spring/summer top.  I think I came up with a good alternative.  BWOF 04-2009-122





There were 5 reviews on PatternReview for this pattern.  They were all positive and most mentioned that this blouse was great for a beginner.  I especially liked Dawn’s version.  I loved her use of grommets instead of button holes.  The only thing I might change about this is how low the v neck goes.  I don’t want to have to wear a cami or a tank top underneath this in the middle of a hot and humid NYC summer.  What do you think?  — Can I sew up the v neck a bit so that it’s not as low cut?

Happy sewing everyone!

Pregnant clown anyone?

After all the searching for a pattern, trying to translate directions, the Singer that died, and the endless questions on PatternReview, I made a clown costume for a pregnant woman.  Thank god it was only muslin.  Here’s a pic (please ignore the incredibly bad sewing)…hp101muslin1


I can’t believe it’s taken me weeks to create a wadder.  I made a size 12 (for 38 in bust) and definitely could have gone down a size or two.  There is just too much fabric going on here.  The guidelines for how much elastic to use for the neckline was too generous; I don’t think there was enough gathering for that much fabric.  I didn’t bother hemming the sleeves or elasticizing the waist as I was checking for fit and whether I liked the style on me at all.  I think it would have been even more comical had I gone ahead and elasticized the waist, I could have looked even more like a pregnant clown.  Have I mentioned that I looked like a pregnant clown yet? 

Saturday afternoon, I still was under the impression that I could salvage this project.  I went upstairs to my sister’s apt (we live in the same building — how awesome is that???!!!!) and borrowed one of her belts to see if I liked it as a tunic.  We came up with the following workarounds:

  1. Lengthen the top to tunic length (easy fix).
  2. Go down 1 sizes (now I think even going down 2 size wouldn’t work)
  3. Skip elasticizing the back neck and decrease the width of back pattern sheet to accommodate not needing to be gathered anymore (with my limited sewing knowledge, I don’t know if this is feasible without irreparably distorting the pattern).

It would probably work… if I used a different pattern altogether.  This pattern (HP 101) is just cut too wide.  There’s too much fabric around the middle and you will look fat no matter if you are a starving model or not.   Or maybe you need to have a long torso to pull it off or maybe you just shouldn’t make it.  Ok, in all fairness, if you used a much drapier fabric than unwashed muslin, it might work.  But I really wanted to use a cotton for this top and I don’t think any cotton would be drapey enough for this pattern.  Of course, I am no fabric expert, so if there is a really drapey cotton, please let me know.  So, sadly, I did not finish a top for Rae’s Spring Top sewalong.  But you should check it out and vote on the best one! 

Without further ado, here are some “tunic” pics…




It wasn’t all for naught though!  I did learn a lot on this top:

  1. How to use single fold bias tape (and how not to).
  2. I can sew straight seams pretty well, but really need to practice my curved seams.
  3. PatternReview is my friend!
  4. I still need to fine tune the tensions on my serger.  The side seams I created on this top were really loose and when you pulled the fabric on both sides of the seam, it exposed too much of the threads. 
  5. I still want to sew despite all the frustrations and setbacks on this project.


So now I need a super duper cute and easy spring/summery top pattern.  I don’t think I have anything suitable in my pattern stash.  Most of my patterns are for knit tops.   Any suggestions?  The search continues…

Happy sewing everyone!

Not much progress, but some success…

Apologies for leaving you hanging after the last post.  I have used my new Emerald 183 only 3 times for 3 lines of stitching only so far.  I know you’re sitting there in disbelief, but honestly, I have been stuck on a certain part of my top for awhile now.  The single fold bias tape was kicking my butt.  Actually, I was all ready to quit on sewing altogether after 2 hours of struggling to get the elastic through the bias tape casing unsuccessfully.  Seriously.

But PatternReview came to my rescue yet again!  I love this site.  I always get fast answers to my questions, no one is ever condescending about my dumb questions, and there are tons of pattern reviews to look up and be inspired by. 

So to catch you up:  I had cut out the pattern and muslin weeks ago.  I had to run out to buy the elastic and single fold bias tape.  Then in trying to attach the bias tape to the neckline to create the casing for the elastic, my Singer 5160 failed me in a very dramatic way.  The hunt for a new machine was on.  This past weekend, I bought my new machine, the shiny Emerald 183, and returned to the single fold bias tape.  I sewed one side on with no problems.  I sewed the other side of the tape no problems.  My new Emerald 183 is great!  That took all of 10 minutes at the most.  The next two long and frustrating hours were spent trying to get 1/4 inch elastic through a less than 1/4 inch bias tape opening.  I tried sewing the elastic to a sewing needle to feed it through; it kept escaping the needle.  I tried a large safety pin; too big.  I tried a small safety pin which worked until about 2 inches from the end when it broke inside the casing; too flimsy.  I couldn’t get it any farther and I couldn’t remove it.  It took me two hours to do absolutely nothing!  I was not a happy camper.  It was day two of owning my Emerald 183 and I was only able to use it on two lines of stitching.  That’s it!

I posted my woes on PatternReview and had a workaround within hours.  One of my rescuers said: “You can *Not* fold under the second edge of the bias tape, leaving a raw edge (since bias doesn’t ravel, you can do this without anything more than a slightly messy inside of your garment that no one else will care about), and this will give you extra room through which to thread the elastic.”

I tried that last night.  I unpicked one of the seams of the bias tape, opened up the fold and stitched it down unfolded to the wrong side of the muslin.  When I was done, I threaded the elastic into a tapestry needle and had that neck band elasticized in about 3 minutes.  OMG was that easy!!!  Of course my muslin is a little beat up now.  Too beat up in fact to use.  I am actually considering ditching the muslin and going straight to my fashion fabric.  Am I crazy?  Should I stay with making up the muslin first?  I really want to finish this top this week to participate in the sewalong.  Am I being too impatient?  Let’s ooh and aah over the pretty fabric again, shall we?cotton-brown-dots-with-flocking2

Ugh.  I can’t decide.  I think I’ll make a game time decision tonight when I get home and get cracking, I mean, sewing. 

I’m so excited again.  I don’t know why I became so discouraged right away.  I just have to ask the gods at PatternReview and I receive.  It’s awesome!!!

Till next time, happy sewing everyone!

Ahhh, the weekend…

I’m really looking forward to this weekend.  The weather here in NYC is supposed to be glorious.  I am going sewing machine shopping tomorrow and spending the entire day on Sunday with Jack outside.  CAN’T WAIT!!!  Hopefully I’ll have a new sewing machine and will have sewn up some of my muslin for the Spring Top Sewalong in which I’m participating.

To hold you off until the next post…  here’s a pic of the Whisper Cardigan progress since last time.whisper-progress

And, because I can’t resist…  A shot of Jack from last weekend.  We were at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens and he just loved running on the grass and doing “Lazy Town” (he tries to imitate the gymnastic moves of the lead character, Sportacus, all the time).  So cute, if I do say so myself.IMG_3016

Happy knitting and sewing everyone!

Pictures of projects past

As promised in my Backstory post, here are pictures of my past finshed objects (FOs) and the quilt my Mom made for little Jack.  I forgot to take one picture though, but I’m sure you’ve all seen pillows before.  LOL.

First up is the quilt my Mom made in celebration of Jack’s birth.  I asked for blues and looked through various quilting sites for a pattern.  Of course I picked a really difficult one as I have absolutely no knowledge of quilting and how hard it is to do pointy piecework; now I know.  I think it’s really beautiful and Jack still asks for it to be laid down on the floor for him to play on like when he was an infant.  He has a memory like an elephant.quilt-1

Next up on the “slideshow”  are my own FOs.  So first is a picture of my now extremely dirty totebag that I made at the Purl sewing class.  I made longer straps than the pattern called for, much to my regret.  I should have left well enough alone.  😉  I chose the fabrics from Purl and love the combo for the outside/lining if I do say so myself.  Construction details included fusible interfacing for the straps and the snap area, a snap, and an interior pocket.  I also completed a zipped pencil bag, but forgot to take a picture of that.

Tote Bag Exterior

Tote Bag Exterior

Lining w/ interior pocket
Lining w/ interior pocket
Detail of snap and interior pocket

Detail of snap and interior pocket

Now we have FOs from my class at Sew Fast Sew Easy.  First on the docket is the skirt.  Construction details are stretch woven from Kashi at Metro Textile, elasticized waist, handsewn hem with hemtape,  and skirt vent fused.   Here are some pics:black-skirt

Elasticized waist interior detail

Elasticized waist interior detail

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Skirt hem handsewn with hemtape

Next up is the tshirt I made in the same class.  Please excuse the mysterious stain on the front; I have no idea what that is and it won’t come out in the wash.  The collar and seams were serged, but a sewing machine was used to hem the sleeves and hem.   Not sure why since a straight sewing stitch has no give, but it’s still a great shirt to sleep in. tshirt-1


As I mentioned earlier, I forgot to take a picture of the home dec pillow which has a most excellent invisible zipper installation.  We also completed a small tote bag, but I gave it to a friend of mine, Nikki, so I don’t have any pictures of it to show you all.  Maybe Nikki (hint hint if you’re reading this) will supply the picture in the near future.  Well, that’s it for today’s show and tell. 

In sewing machine news today, I am considering buying a new sewing machine.  Any suggestions?  I am interested in a machine that is great for garment sewing.  I’m not really interested in machine embroidery at this time, so that kind of functionality is not needed.  I want a machine I can grow into, but isn’t too much for my beginner level.  Most especially, I want a machine that allows me to just sit down and sew without any troubleshooting for hours on end each and every time I use it.  The only caveat is I don’t want to spend thousands of dollars.  Is that asking too much???

One fat mess

First, some blog business before the actual post:  I haven’t uploaded pics yet to my last post.  Sorry the holiday weekend got away from me.  I promise to update it soon.

I forced myself to face my intimidation of the single fold bias tape last night.  I’ve been procrastinating thinking about the process of sewing the last week or so, hence the lack of sewing posts of late.  I’ve had the muslin cut out for about two weeks for the Spring Top sew along and it’s been glaring at me accusatorily from the dining room table ever since.  The pattern calls for single fold bias tape to make a casing for the elastic so that the neckline and hemline are elasticized.  See picture below…

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

My question is why use bias tape to encase the elastic when you could use the fabric?  I am using this pattern not only to create a top for me to wear, but also to learn to sew, to increase my skillset.  So I am going to do the muslin exactly as the pattern says to sew it.  However, I reserve the right to change it on the final fashion fabric version later (try saying that last part 10 times fast). 

Back to last night’s adventure…  I read the instructions for the bias tape attachment.  Of course they didn’t make sense at all to me until I had read them about 40 times, but who’s counting?  The first thing I notice is that they have you stitch the crease of the bias tape to the seam line (5/8 seam allowances) and then have you trim the excess seam allowance.  Why not properly size the pattern so you don’t have to trim?  Seems like an unneccessary step to me.  Can anyone tell me why?  So I obediently in a dog-like manner (no offense to dogs), pin my bias tape crease a 5/8 inch away from the edge of the muslin and go to my Singer 5160.  I have black thread in the bobbin and needle, but who cares; it’s a muslin, right?  I check my stitch and tension settings and rethread my needle just in case.  And I start to sew.  Well, except that my needle jumps to the side about 2 inches into my line of stitching.  Why you ask?  Well just take a look…one-fat-mess

That hot mess, my friends, is what my sewing machine wants to produce.  That’s what comes from the bobbin thread.  I checked my bobbin several times.  I changed the tension.  I rethreaded.  I prayed to unnamed gods.  I watched tv.  I took a sip of coke.  I had some parmesan cheese (did I mention my addiction to parmesan cheese yet?).  I rethreaded again and played with the tension for the sheer fun of it again.   And nothing worked!!!!!

Why can’t I just go to the sewing machine and sew?  Why is it I am always troubleshooting?  This might be a serious killjoy for me.  Is it the machine?  Or is it user error?  Should I get a new machine?  Is the Singer 5160 a piece of junk?  I searched on PatternReview for a review of it and couldn’t find any. 

What do the people say?