Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Don't Overlook Ponte

MICHAEL Michael Kors Straight Leg Ponte Knit Pants (Regular & Petite)
Michael Kors, 2014
Some of us are old enough to remember the infamous "Leisure Suit" for the well dressed 70's man. We rocked out with John Travolta and the Bee Gees, all decked out in their white double knit suits. And for some us, those images have influenced our fabric buying habits today and not necessarily in a good way.  Today, our manufacturers have revamped these old double knits into some very striking Ponte knit fabrics, using a variety of man-made and natural fibers.

Ponte knit fabric is amazingly versatile. The beauty of this cloth for the sewist is that it's the same on both sides - there is no right or wrong side when you are working in solid colors. And bonus! You don't have to finish the seams!! A lot of ready-to-wear designers such as Michael Kors and Vince Camuto (both are Nordstrom designers) will add a pair of ponte knit pants to their collections, knowing the comfort and ease of care of this fabric appeals to women of all ages.

When Laurel visited the store for one of our regular "Fit and Fun" days, she picked up some Ponte knits from our huge knit collection. She had the idea that a crop pant in this particular knit would be a great traveler on her drive trip through France.  She chose a couple of our beautiful colors...

Okay, I was officially jealous and wanted a pair of "ponte pants" for myself.  I chose a lucious Rayon and Poly blend fabric in...hello...BLACK!  And since we were going for comfort, we will use (yet again) our Ikina pant from Sewing workshop. The elastic waist make this an easy pant to sew.

Laurel suggested that we perhaps taper the legs somewhat and add a little length to the muslin that we have used over and over again. We were going for a more Audrey Hepburn capris look:) Just make a long "dart" starting at the hemline of the pattern leg by folding it over itself allowing the dart to "disappear/end" somewhere up the pant leg...the longer the tapering, the smoother the pant leg on your body.

Ponte knits can be a little heavier than a single knit and for that reason, we trimmed the seams at the waistline to remove some of the bulk.  This also makes it easier to fish the elastic through the narrow casing.

To complete our look, we added a little notch at the hemline.

If you've been following our sewing adventures here on Fabriclady, you know that we've made these Ikina pants in linen and silk several times.  I love them all, but it drives me to distraction just figuring out which way to slip them on - which side is the front?? The only way to differentiate is by looking at the crotch seams - the seam in back of a pair of pants is always longer than the front. So why not put a label in the back and save yourself some grief? You can have labels custom made, but so many of the machines today have an alphabet stitch, try making your own.

Such a clever little girl that Laurel, with a "unique" sense of humor...
but I guess I'll be able to figure out which side is the back now.

I am officially in love with these knit pants!

Ponte knits come in several weights. I have chosen another length of fabric in a much lighter weight to make another pair - this time I think we will flair the legs a little more just for fun.

Creatively Yours,

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Show us your Selvage Edges!

We love Threads Magazine here at Stonemoutain. We love that we can flip through the pages and find articles with great sewing tips and awesome ideas on garment construction and design.

The most recent  issue  (September 2014) features an article about making use of the selvage edges of fabrics to incorporate into your designs. We were intrigued with this notion, since most of us remember our mothers making us cut off those "ugly" edges before we even started our projects.

We found inspiration in a lacy Polyester with Lycra fabric.  The lace is soft, feather light and stretchy, and perfect for a tunic top.  But best of all, the selvage edges of the fabric has two different looks.

One edge is relatively smooth and flat, but gives the appearance of woven ribbon.

The opposite selvage edge appears as thought it has been run over by a too hot iron, but the effect is delightfully ruffled and feathery.

Both edges could be used in a layered look, something like this cute photo we found in a catalog...all we need is a pattern.  We settled on Kwik Sew's 3870 (available at Stonemountain via mail order), an easy tunic style. Adding a ruffle to the bottom of this pattern would not be too difficult.

If you want to use your selvage edge at the bottom of a pattern hemline, you just fold the fabric along the cross grain of the fabric, rather than the standard layout along the lengthwise of the grain. All of our tunic pieces were laid out along this selvage edge.

We will use the "wrinkled" selvage edge as our ruffle.

This stretchy lace is delicate but very forgiving to sew. Use a zig-zag stitch or a straight stitch - either works! We used two layers of the wrinkled selvage-edged side of the fabric to form our hemline ruffle.

 We're thinking Laurel's 'mini-me,' Colette loves this easy tunic with the "show-off" selvage edges. Remember that not every sheer fabric needs to be lined - we like just using a ready-to wear cami under the sheer lace.

What a great time it is at Stonemountain & Daughter! Much of the fabric that I found in New York is in...plus to make room for all these cartons of yumminess, I had to half price tons of bolts and put them upstairs on SALE!!! Hope you can make it in to see all the inspiring fabrics...what are you wanting to make next?

Creatively Yours,
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics
2518 Shattuck Ave. @ Dwight Way
Berkeley CA


Monday, July 14, 2014

How about a Travel Skirt?

This summer, we've been talking about our travel wardrobes and finding the ideal garments for every travel situation.  We hadn't really thought too much about making a shorter length skirt until Laurel's daughter-in-law approached her on one of the family's swim nights by the pool, wearing a cute knit skirt that she had purchased at a department store. Holly and her family are taking their motor home to the Grand Canyon in a few days for an extended drive trip, so naturally, she is looking for the perfect wardrobe items that will suit her travel plans.

The knit skirt is cool and comfortable, perfect for the long drives through the Southwest. But since she had to pay retail ($$), she was pretty sure that her mother-in-law could replicate the skirt, and for less cost. After some whining and promises for a bottle of nice wine, Laurel agreed to make her a couple of skirts like her ready-to-wear garment.

Laurel found a very travel-worthy nylon and spandex knit in the store and chose our New Look 6155 skirt and pants pattern.  The skirt pattern had similar lines to Holly's garment, and with a couple of very minor adjustments, Laurel knew it would work.

This skirt only takes one yard of 60" fabric. She chose the size closest to the skirt measurements, and:
  • Instead of a zipper, the already stretchy waistband would have elastic inserted at the top
  • Instead of having a seam down the back, both front and back panels are placed on the fold
  • Instead of the back darts, added a little width at the hem

The waist band is eased onto the skirt, using a stretch or a zig-zag stitch, whichever suits the stretch of your knit. Be sure to test your stitches on a fabric scrap and use a ball-point needle.
 The elastic is attached to the "lining" (underneath side) of the waistband, stretching it as you zig-zag the edge.

Top stitching details should never be forgotten - they are what makes even a simple garment look professional. Laurel is fond of two rows of top stitching, a feature which she uses frequently on my knit garments.
A quick machine stitched hem (2 rows of stitching, please!) and Holly's skirt is ready for her trip.

Holly in her Travel Skirt!!!

"Laurel, (whine, whine..) I want one too!"

This simple knit skirt is the reason why we want you to dust off your sewing machines and start sewing!  Sewing for yourself saves money and you can find almost any look and style in a similar pattern.  Stonemountain has a wealth of pattern choices and fabrics for your travel wardrobe.

Drop by the store, or visit our website to order online!

I am still feeling so full and happy from my buying trip to New York City a few weeks back…now all the fabric is just about in and the shelves are full of amazing designer imported fabrics! I hope you will come by and visit and see what's new and inspiring!

Let's do this!

Creatively Yours,

Just two of the boxes that came in last week!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

These Pants are made for Travel...

Travel is a billion dollar industry - so much attention paid to finding the best hotels for the price, where to dine for the best meals, what airlines offer the best fares, etc. - there are so many websites screaming for your travel dollar, it makes our head spin. We love to obsess about how to pack and what to wear while at the same time we being smart about our itineraries and finances.

Inspiration from Anna Sui, NYC

Whether you're a beginning sewist or a seasoned veteran, you need not cry out "What am I going to pack!" We've got a few ideas on fabric choices and some simple garments for the right styles and fabrics for your travel adventures.  Let's start by focusing on pants, the "no-brainer" travel wardrobe garment.  This must have item can be easy to make and there are tons of great fabric choices - don't over think it!

LINEN (for casual pants, short and long!)

I could plan a whole summer wardrobe in linen - it's a natural fabric like cotton, so it's cool to wear on the warmer days. And here's the bonus - linen is great for travel because it comes in so many colors and it's lightweight. You can get a lot of linen garments in a suitcase and not worry about that irritating 50 pound limit! Even though our mothers obsessed about wrinkles, but we think that soft linen wrinkles are part of it's charm.

Last summer, we made several pair of linen crop pants using the Sewing Workshop's Ikina Jacket & Pant Pattern elastic waist pant. Naturally, I am still loving them.


Now, let's talk about a subject near and dear to my heart: SHOES!
While I was in New York I was inspired by the trends being seen on the street. One style that I noticed in particular were flat shoes. Ballet slippers, sandals and even flat ankle boots looked so chic with the dresses and skirts of all lengths being worn in New York City. This is a style I'm excited to wear for seasons to come for comfort and sophistication.

This summer, I chose a new pattern for a longer length linen pant: New Look's 6273. We'll use buttons as a decorative detail at the bottom of the side seams, three on each side. We continue to use the same pre-treatment ritual any time we're working with linen to make it soft and yummy - Read about Sandra Betzina's pre-washing technique to minimize wrinkles on our July 2013 post.

One of the things that I love about my seamstress Laurel is that she's not afraid to tell us her lessons learned while sewing my garments, even though she has been sewing for years.  She shares our "wins" and "losses" so that you will learn to make better garments yourselves. Laurel laughed that she's been putting together pants forever, but just figured out why some patterns instruct you to sew the inseams together first, then the crotch, then the side seams.

 "Yes, Laurel, if you do it in that order, all the seams are able to be pressed flat!"

These relaxed pants are designed to ride about an inch below your waist and feature both elastic  AND a drawstring.   The dropped waistband has two buttonholes for the drawstring to come out in the front of the pants.  With linen or any lightweight fabric, it's a good idea to put some interfacing on the back side of the buttonhole to stabilize the fabric. Isn't it wonderful how the new machines and their attachments make such pretty buttonholes?

When making a drawstring, especially a narrow one, ironing the fabric folds before you sew can simplify the process.

Once we added the elastic and threaded the drawstring in the waistband, we're thinking it might be a little overkill since it's a little bulky. We'll decide if we need both at another fitting. That's the beauty of sewing your own garments - you can make adjustments as you gain more experience in what works and what doesn't.

Love my new silk knit top, Burda 7645 from my Work That Stash and Cool Sumer Tank post, to go with these great linen pants!

KNITS (for leggings and soft capris)

Fabrics in the knit family travel especially well. The New Look drawstring pants above would be awesome made up in a soft rayon knit...perfect for a long airplane or car ride.

But what about a pair of leggings to wear under a tunic or short dress - Remember Ladies: Leggings are NOT pants! It can be a scary thing to see leggings stretched over an ample backside worn with a crop top - you better have a dynamite figure or be 4 years old!

We recently got this cool Christine Jonson pattern in at Stonemountain. It's part of her BaseWearOne Collection No.622 and includes a tank top and a yoga bodysuit as well. These simple designs are created especially for Lycra blend fabrics. We're using a cotton and Spandex fabric for the leggings and we chose black...of course!

Cotton and Spandex blend fabric is tightly knit, and like any knit, it has the "knit" side and the "purl" side of the fabric. Traditionally, the knit side of the fabric is the "right side," but when a knit is this fine, it's hard to see the threads. If you can't tell which is which, a closer look through some sort of magnification is in order.

When we say easy we mean it...ONE PATTERN PIECE!
Christine's pattern directions are very clear and easy to follow.

All of the seams are serged, if you have one, otherwise just use a stretch stitch. But be sure to test it out on the fabric first. Christine warns, "Don't stretch the fabric as you sew."

Laurel used a zigzag stitch to sew on the elastic as well as hem the legs. She did adjust the presser foot tension on her Viking to ease the movement of the fabric over the feed dogs while sewing.

In a little over 60 minutes flat...DONE!!!

Check out our new class on making Leggings with Terry McClintock for further support!

Try your hand at either of these two simple pant styles in linen or knit - both will be a great addition to your travel wardrobe. Consider solid colors and pair them with a tank or tunic in a splashy print or plaid!

Creatively Yours, 

So much to look at and to BUY! Just wait till you all see the shipments coming in over the next few weeks!