Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Finding Community on the Internet - The Minttu Swing Top Tip!

Like many of our experienced home sewists who have been using patterns and following directions for years, we have learned different techniques, tricks, and shortcuts to accomplish the same result as what the pattern maker intended. But when we make a garment from one of our indie pattern makers for the first time, we always try to construct it according to the instructions included in the pattern. We want to understand the methods given from the designer to better help you construct your own version of a particular garment.

The Minttu Swing Top from Named Clothing's Playground Collection is a "simple and loose fitting A-Lined jersey top with round neck and slightly angular armholes."  It does look easy at first glance, and definitely cute. We chose this gorgeous cotton lycra knit print, available online or at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in BerkeleyWe thought that the side panels could be cut on the bias to add a flattering detail to the top. 

So many great knits to choose from! Follow the link to check 'em out!

Putting on my new Minttu Top with my Flint Pants

The first steps of the instructions include attaching the side panels to the front and back sections of the top.  Easy enough.

The all in one facing is a great design feature for a sleeveless top such as the Minttu.  An all-in-one facing is sewn around the neckline and armholes, giving the garment a very polished look - no bias bindings to sew down or top stitching needed. Laurel, my seamstress, loves the all-in-one facings, but typically sews the neckline and armholes up to the shoulder seams, leaving them open to allow turning the facing, then sewing the shoulders carefully by hand.

The Minttu uses a different technique that was confusing to Laurel at first.  She read and reread the instructions a few times, but was having trouble deciphering exactly what they meant.

So what do you do in such a case? It took a while to find it, but on the Internet we found a You-Tube video explaining the application of the all-in-one facing on this exact Named top, the Minttu. Eureka!! This is what we love about the sewing community - sewing bloggers love to show their accomplishments and their projects, and many of them do tutorials. You have to love don't ever be afraid to do a search when you reach a stumbling block such as Laurel experienced.

After watching the video, sponsored by Indie Sew, we realized the instruction that was tripping Laurel up involved the "grabbing of the seam allowance and pulling the armhole wrong side out."  We discovered that it's all in how you reach up in between the bodice shell and the facing and do the "grabbing."

It really difficult to demonstrate in these still photos.  As they say in the studio, "you have to see the movie" to get it. But once we watched the video a couple of times, we wondered why we made it so hard. It isn't a challenging technique if you know what you're doing. And yes, you can teach an old dog (or sewist) new tricks!

The armholes are sewn in two steps...first the front is sewn using the "grab, pull and pin" technique, then the back of the armhole, following the same technique.  When the garment is turn right-side out, the result is a beautifully finished neckline and armhole.

We used a twin needle to hem the Minttu Top after adding a little fusible tape to cut down on the rolling that often happens with knits.

Such a polished finish on the neck and armholes...and no hand sewing.

Fabric on the bias for the side panels.
What a great detail!

Feeling good in my Minttu Swing Top with my new Safran Jeans!

We could totally make this top again - we love the flowing nature of it.  And once we got the technique of the all-in-one facing down, we aren't likely to forget it.  The beauty of it is that the shoulder seams are smooth and flat which is sometimes a problem using the open shoulder hand-sewn method.

Thank heavens that we have such a powerful resource in our community through the internet. Where would we be without our blogging and social media friends!  There is much to learn about sewing, and we like to think that we here at Fabriclady and Stonemountain Fabrics inspire you as well to try new techniques.  We are not too proud to learn from you and nor are we thinking we know it all.  Both Laurel and I have been creating garments for years, and we love to call ourselves life-long students of all that is creative and beautiful. We learn from you and you inspire us everyday.

Thank you for being a part of our story.

With love and many blessings,

What fabric would you use for your Minttu Swing Top?

Monday, September 18, 2017

Striking a Chord - the Sointu Kimono Tee is a Harmonious Hit!

At Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics, our Indie pattern designers are some of the most inspiring and talented designers we have come to love. It's one of the reasons why we made the switch from the Corporate/Big 4 pattern companies to these independent pattern companies. No matter what your sewing skills are, you can find designs to suit your abilities.  And we love giving these (mostly) women-owned businesses a leg up in this challenging, competitive industry.

One of our new pattern lines is Named, a Finnish clothing pattern label founded by sisters Saara and Laura Huhta. In their own words, "the story of Named started from the dream of turning a passion into a career, designing their own collection of clothing patterns felt like a natural way to implement both sisters’ love for clothes, fashion, design and DIY. The duo wants to encourage fellow fashion lovers to give sewing their own garments a try." Seems like our values and mission are so aligned!

Like so many of our Indie Patterns, Named patterns have a name (Check out my previous blog, "More than a number").  The "Sointu" is a kimono style loose fitting top.  Sointu means "chord" in Finnish. The notes in a chord can be harmonious (angelic) or dissident (nails on a chalkboard), but the Sointu is definitely a beautifully harmonious blend of ease, femininity, and versatility.

Though it's drafted for knits, we chose to make our Sointu in a woven cotton ikat, one of our go-to fabrics for all-weather wear. Ikats come in all weights, but our indigo blue is lightweight and the perfect fabric for late Summer into Fall. One of the beautiful things about ikats is the variation in the weave itself.  If you're looking for perfection in a woven fabric, you won't find it in an ikat.  But their imperfect perfection is what makes them so vibrant and appealing...besides their wearability and versatility.

The Sointu instructions call for bias binding around the neck area. If we were using a knit, bias bindings tend to be easier to apply around the curves of a neckline or armhole.  But since we are working with a woven, we chose to make a facing. Just trace the neckline on a piece of pattern paper and cut the width about 2-3 inches wide.  We always stock pattern paper in the store!

My sister from a different mother (and seamstress) Laurel had to try a Sointu as well. Her Sointu features a facing made of a scrap of musical chord fabric she had on hand.  Very appropriate, huh? You can see how the facing is applied around the neckline.

Don't forget to clip your curves and understitch your facing if you choose to go this route, rather than the bias tape.

My finished Sointu

We can see so many different ways to make this easy top. Perhaps we'll try it in a knit. Or turn it into a dress...and add some pockets and forget the belt. We just love it in this ikat fabric!!

Colette is ready for a garden party...
The Sointu's sizing is very generous, so decide how much ease you like in a top and choose your size accordingly.

Laurel's Cactus Sointu...

Preview of the Sapporo Coat!
No. 1 Pant with Button Detail!
Out for our lunch date in our Sointu Kimono Tees! We just love the
versatility and grace of these tops!
We appreciate the way certain musicians "play by ear," looking for the right combination of notes, chords, and tempo to make a song.  Sewing is like that...we roam the fabric aisles, looking for just the right fabric to go with the perfect pattern, adding the perfect trim and buttons and all coming together in a beautiful creation of our own making.  Sewing a beautiful garment is a labor of love and when we wear it, we feel the "music" of our creation.

We have enjoyed the "Summer of Love" Challenge...seeing your garments and feeling the love. Let's keep making beautiful music together this Fall!  Show us your indie pattern garments and where you wore them.  Did you make something special for a concert or a vacation or a night out on the town? We want to see it!

Stonemountain and You...Making beautiful music together.

With love, your FabricLady,

Sunday, September 10, 2017

FabricLady Tested! These Jeans are so Flattering!

Who doesn't love a good pair of jeans? Everyone, from tomboys to girly-girls, has a favorite fit. Some love a relaxed boyfriend style, like the Morgan Jeans from Closet Case Files, and we all need a pair of the Ginger Jeans also by Closet Case Files as featured in my previous blogs! Some love a slim line, like these Safran Pants from Deer and Doe. If you are like me, you can see any of these styles fitting into various moods and activities.

We can all agree that shopping for the perfect fitting jeans is not only time consuming, but often frustrating! Either they fit in the waist but the booty is to tight, or they are perfectly tapered down the leg, but the rise is way to low. Not to mention, each brand uses a different sizing style, am I a size 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, or a 26, 27, 28, 29, 30? More than likely, if you finally find the perfect jeans, you need to take out a second mortgage to pay the cashier.  And THIS is why you may want to try your hand a making a pair.

My new Safran Jeans and Tea House Top
Here they are with my Tea House Top from Sew House Seven

Getting ready for Layering with my Decades of Style, Threes a Charm Jacket, Grainline Studio's, Scout Tee and
my new favorite Deer and Doe, Safran Jeans! All available over at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics!

This month, we are making Deer and Doe's Safran jeans. I love the higher waist and the slim, but not skinny, legs. The front pockets are unique - perfect for some great top-stitching details.

Could these Saran Jeans be any cuter?!
I'm using the same stretch denim that I used for my Ginger Jeans by Closet Case Files (Read those blogs here and here), but this time in black for my Safran jeans. We decided on the Neon Pink for the top-stitching, but Laurel wanted to add some drama on the back pockets just for fun, so we are going to incorporate the Turquoise and the Gold thread as well. Shop our selection of fun neon top-stitching thread here!

Choosing "outside the box" with Neon Top Stitching Thread! - Yes we can!

Laurel came up with a swirl detail that we will stitch in all three colors.  She  drew it freehand on paper for a pattern and pinned it to the pocket. Is that an "S" that I see?

She stitched around the edge to the S shape pattern in pink, then removed the pattern and echoed the pink stitching as a guide for the other two colors.

We decided on a single row of top-stitching to attach the pockets.

It's all in the details!

Top-stitching thread is a lot heavier than normal sewing thread, so getting the tension right can be a bit of a challenge.  The important thing to remember is that people can only see the outside of your garment, so don't stress out if the inside stitching is a little wonky.  We notice that this often happens when you plant your needle, raise the presser foot and turn a corner, leaving a little loop of top-stitching thread on the inside. Oh well.

Finishing off the end of the stitching line works best of you gently tug on the bobbin thread to bring the top-stitching thread to the inside of the garment, then tie it off.

When top stitching over a heavier section like a seam, you can stop short of joining the line together and then hand sew, taking the top stitching thread to the inside, creating a "stitch" that joins the line, and then tying it off. This will eliminate any extra bulk that would be created by backstitching with the thicker thread.

We were pretty sure that the Safran jeans would fit, so Laurel installed the fly-front zipper before sewing the pants together.  If we needed to adjust the waist, we could reduce the back or side seams.

Don't forget to be creative with your lining fabric.  Of course you can always use the same denim for the lining, but why not make it fun? One of our many cotton prints would work beautifully! Shop them here. We used scraps of this paper crane cotton from a previous garment. Laurel is the master of reworking scraps!

Great way to use your left over fun scraps!

Another Thursday with Laurel - checking the booty for fit...

Hey, these fit!

Love these pockets!

Look how the top stitching thread pops!

Marking the hem...ready to send them back to Laurel's studio for the final steps.

Back in the Studio, Laurel attached the waistband and belt loops and finished the top stitching and hems. Nothing left but that pesky buttonhole and jeans button. Everything was going great until that perfectly sewn buttonhole was on the wrong side of the fly. Making mistakes is part of the creative process - we all do it, but Laurel finds it particularly annoying.

We were both reminded of one of my favorite books, Debbie Ford's The Dark Side of the Light Chasers. In this book we learned that we ALL have aspects of our nature that we don't like, but more to the point, we ALL have things that annoy us about other people. Debbie contends that it is these very things that we hate in others that also exist in us, perhaps even hidden. This hidden "Shadow" side of our personality, as Debbie calls it, is something that we must learn to embrace so that it no longer has an emotional charge.

Assuming that Debbie is on point (which we believe she is SO on target), after reading Debbie's book, Laurel shared that one of her trigger words was "stupid", as in not very smart or not smart enough. We won't go into all her issues with this word "stupid", but after reading about this concept of embracing her dark side, she can now easily admit that she too is sometimes "stupid."

Yes, that buttonhole is on the wrong side...rookie (stupid) mistake!! But hey, at the end of the day, she laughs at it, let's it go and let's her creativity kick in.  Throw a patch on that mistake buttonhole, attach the jean's button and call it a day!

Aaahhh.  Embracing her stupid side turns out to be a good thing for me!! Actually, I don't think this is a mistake after all - looks like it belonged there all along.



Going to love these jeans!!

Laurel and I! She looks great in my Tea House top - so much that she's making one for herself!
All my indie me-made clothes are all working so well together :)

Feel like embracing your own "Shadow"? You can pick up Debbie's book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers from Amazon Books, or at your local bookstore. It will definitely give you something to think about. As women, we want to love our whole selves, not just the parts we like or that others find pleasing. It's okay to be "not good enough" once in a while!

And meanwhile, embrace your whole self and your creativity and sew a little heart in your jeans!

Yours Creatively,

More Cotton Ikat choices on this Link!

Layering garments can be so much fun with the the Three's a Charm Jacket, Scout Tee
and the Safran Pants! Denim Dot Jacket fabric is at this link...Shop any of
our Woven Cottons at this link for the perfect Scout Tee!
Check out all the great "Bottom weight" choices for making pants at this link, too!