THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

July 30, 2008

Hot Studs

Filed under: Embellishment,Gigi,Uncategorized — Gigi @ 7:00 am

I really like the dress I finished the other day but the more I looked at it, the more I felt it was missing something. It was just a bit too plain, you know? So, I started rummaging through my embellishments and didn’t find anything but some black bugle beads, meh. Then yesterday, Karla, Phyllis and I were talking about how to apply hot-fix studs and rhinestones when it hit me: I had a bag of square black 5mm hot-fix studs in my stash! The first thing I did was test them on a scrap of fabric to make sure they’d stick to the Illusion – I once used hot-fix rhinestones on stretch lace and they all fell off!

I used the smaller flat tip on my Kandi Kane and cut a small piece of a Teflon sheet to slide between the layers to prevent the glue from bleeding through. If you don’t want your front and back glued together get a Teflon sheet and use it!


Application is really simple. Just lay the studs into position and heat them up with the Kandi Kane tip. I couldn’t find the directions so I just tested and decided to hold the tip on for a count of 15. You will naturally want to press down on the stud with your finger after removing the tip – beware that it is very hot! If you can’t help yourself wear a thick leather thimble (or even an oven mitt) as a metal one might scratch the surface.


I concentrated most of the studs at the center front thinning them out towards the top and just sprinkling them around the back.



I also sprinkled a few on the sleeves. By this time I was running low and wanted to keep a few in reserve for repairs. I will probably order more and fill this in a bit more later.


I think they go perfectly with the geometric design of the main fabric and the whole thing took me about an hour.

July 29, 2008

Pants pattern alteration

Filed under: Fit/Pattern Alterations,Tutorials — Els @ 1:22 pm

Alterations pants pattern for athletic or full ( aka heavy) thighs front side only.

Since a lot of women develop heavy front thighs due to sport activities like swimming, running etc. which cause the front pants legs to be too snug at the upper thighs.

 Adding wide to the front pants pattern can help to achieve a better fit.

 Measure your thighs at 2 inches below the crotch, next measure the pants pattern front and back at the same height 2 inches below the crotch the total width of your pattern must be your thighs width + 2-3 inches ( 5-7,5 cm)

For example, if your patternwidth is 1 inch short in width you can add that amount at the front pattern.
If your pants pattern has a crease line you can start from there , if your pattern doesn’t  have a crease line, draw one see step 1 at the diagram.



Draw a horizontal line at the front pattern, 1 inch below the crotch line from side seam to inner leg seam.
Measure the space between this new line till knee height and divide this in 2 and draw a horizontal line halfway.

Cut the front crease line from the waistline towards the knee and cut open the 3 new horizontal lines. See step 2

Add a piece of paper under the slashed pattern and spread the pattern parts like the example diagram see Step 3
Draw a new crease line from the knee up to the waist, add at both sides of the new crease line ½ inch at upper thigh .The side seams inner and outer leg are now spread for about 1/8 -1/4 inch. You can ease in those inches (1/8 till ¼ inch) so the front side seam fits the backside seam again.

If your front pattern needs more than 1 inch then I would suggest to use a larger size pattern because otherwise the space at inseam and side seam lines are increasing too much and easing in will not be possible anymore.

July 26, 2008


Filed under: Embellishment,Fit/Pattern Alterations,Gigi,Patterns,sewing — Gigi @ 3:48 pm

I woke up this morning ready to tackle the Hot Patterns Wong-Singh-Jones Kimono Wrap Dress, other projects in the queue be damned (I know, I think I have adult ADD). I thought about it all day yesterday and couldn’t wait to get started! You see, this dress has been on my to-do list forever. I had it in my head that I wanted to use two solids or a solid and a print but just haven’t found two fabrics that were perfect so I decided to just go ahead and make it in a print for now. I’m sure even the Hot Patterns Team is sick and tired of my endless versions of the Cosmopolitan Dress!

As I headed to the sewing room this morning I poked my head into the exercise room (where my cutting table used to be) and saw this:


A dress version of Jalie 2793 that I cut out months ago. For some reason I just lost interest in it after it was all cut out. I think I was dreading sewing with the stretch Illusion I was using for the contrast. That stuff is never fun to sew, sort of like handling vermicelli (the worm or the spaghetti). The fabric is a gorgeous rayon/lycra from Textile Studios which made me feel a little guilty. Okay, a lot guilty. So, I grabbed the sad little pile of fabric and continued on my way to the sewing room.


I often look at top and dress patterns interchangeably. A top can become a dress and a dress can become a top. Since this top was already flared at the hip I simply chalked the extra length directly onto the fabric. If you are working with a fitted top it’s easiest to pull out a favorite dress pattern and marry the two at the waist.

I thought it would be pretty to use black stretch Illusion for the neckline, the modesty panel and the sleeve bands. Awhile back I used it for the bands on this Jalie 2449 top and really liked the effect. And, yes, I sewed all of those little paillettes on individually, by hand. Tedious but worth it.


Sewing with the Illusion didn’t turn out to be so bad. Rather than serging, I used a very narrow zigzag to stitch all of the enclosed seams. I originally wanted to zigzag over black elastic thread to stabilize the neckline but I didn’t have any and, as it turned out, I really didn’t need it anyway. I then carefully trimmed the seam allowances down to 1/8″ with my rotary cutter. In retrospect, I could have used my perling machine. Oh well, I just didn’t think of it!


This left me with a nice neat seam. To make it a little easier to handle I machine basted the outer edges together after turning and pressing. The fabric can be wiggly and I didn’t want anything slipping out of place during serging. Yikes, I really need to recover my pressing board.



I debated whether or not the modesty panel was necessary. I decided to go ahead with it because I knew the weight of the fabric would pull the neckline down a bit. During fitting, I was really glad I did! As you can see, this would be pretty risque without the panel.


Here’s a better photo on the mannequin – I take the worst mirror pictures of anyone in the online sewing community.


I love the way the Illusion looks on the sleeves!


Here’s the completed dress. It needs shortening and hemming but I’m going to let it hang out for a day before I finish up. Doesn’t it always feel so good to complete a UFO and hang a new garment in one’s closet?


July 25, 2008

New Look 6648 neckline

Filed under: Gigi,Tutorials — Gigi @ 4:38 pm

Jan was wondering how to narrow the neckline of this (or any) top so I thought I’d just post a quick photo showing how it’s done. The heavy green line is the original neckline. I do not recommend using markers for your pattern work (messy and the lines are too fat) but the pencil lines wouldn’t show up. It’s a little wonky because I traced over the original line freehand just so you could see it. You can see from my notes on the pattern that I brought the neckline in 1″ at the shoulders and raised it 1/2″ at the center front (I had previously lowered it 1.5″ at the center front). The other line you see on the pattern is my facing line. If I plan on using this pattern often I will retrace it onto manila paper. Whenever I retrace or transfer a pattern I always make a note of all adjustments made to the pattern for future reference – usually just numbers and arrows.


Then I used my mini French curve to redraw the neckline and repeat the process on the back. I do have the regular Fairgate French curve but the mini curve is so handy for necklines. I have no idea where to buy these, my friend Cynthia bought this one for me in NYC.


I hope that helps, Jan!

July 22, 2008

Exposed Facings & Sleeve Bands

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Fabric,Gigi,Patterns,Tutorials — Gigi @ 2:34 pm

I recently saw this See by Chloe top at Saks.Com and fell in love with it. I searched The Stash and sadly didn’t have any silk print with the same type of design but I did find a beautiful jersey that I bought from Gorgeous Fabrics recently (sadly, it’s sold out)!



Then I found this pattern (New Look 6648 ) and it all came together:


I actually like the pattern a little more than the designer original because it’s not as voluminous – important when you are only 5’3″ tall!

To give it the same feeling as the See blouse I decided to add an exposed facing and sleeve bands. This takes a little more time but is well worth the effort. Notice that I used a round neck instead of a square one – just my personal preference. It’s just as easy to make a square neck if you prefer. I also lowered the neckline 1″ because it was a little high on me. Next time I will definitely narrow the neckline at the shoulders – it is a lot wider than it appears. I’ll be needing some lingerie guards! That is the only alteration I made to the pattern. I cut my usual size 8 but, depending on the fabric, I could go down to a 6 next time. It’s cut very generously so no FBA was needed.

Before I show the facing I want to mention that I sewed the shoulder/sleeve seam conventionally and pressed the seam open. I find that this type of seam often draws up and doesn’t hang nicely when sewn on the serger. You can see that my seam has retained it’s drape.


To draft your facing it’s a good idea to first trim down your neckline seam allowance to 1/4″. I always use 1/4″ on all enclosed seams. It’s easier to sew accurately and saves the extra step of trimming later. Next, using a small ruler or gauge, mark your facing line directly onto the pattern. I made mine 1.75″ wide for a finished width of 1.25″. You can make yours as wide or as narrow as you like. Then simply trace this off to make your facing pattern pieces.

I then block fused my fabric and cut out my facings. Notice that I cut the facings on the opposite grain so that they would show up better. If you are going to do the work it’s nice for it to show!

Now for the tedious part: After you sew the facing shoulder seams, you’ll need to turn in 1/4″ on the outside edge. To make this easy and accurate I sewed 1/4″ from the edge and then used the stitching as a guide to turn the edge in. As you can see, I turned the edge in just past the stitching so that I wouldn’t have to remove any of it later.


Give the edge a good press and flatten well with your clapper or a seam roll:


Then it’s time to attach the facing right side to the garment wrong side and stitch.


Next, clip your seam and press it open. Notice that I alternate clips on the garment and facing. I think this makes for a much nicer finish especially in heavier fabrics because you won’t get those little indentations from the clips showing through.


Understitch attaching both seam allowances to the body of the garment. I always allow the garment to lay in it’s finished position so that the clips are allowed to spread open and conform to that shape. You want this:


Not this:


Lastly, press the neckline edge allowing the facing to peek out a bit


then topstitch the facing in place. Some sort of topstitching or edge foot is really helpful here.


The sleeve bands were merely sewn into a circle, folded in half and serged on in the round. Then I edgestitched the seam to give the appearance of a binding. Easy! My bands are 2.75″ wide. I cut them 6″ wide to start. I wanted them a little wider but that’s all the fabric I had left after a stupid cutting error. Since I liked the original length of the sleeves I trimmed the garment sleeves 2.5″ so that I would retain that length (2.75″ band width minus 1/4″ seam allowance).



Because there is so much volume on the top I wanted the fit around my waist and hip to be as trim as possible so I needed to eliminate the ruching on the band. This is a super-easy fix here as only the outer band is ruched, the inner band is flat. Simply measure the width of the inner band from the cut edge to the foldline marked on the pattern. Then draw a new line at the same width on the ruched section and fold (or cut) away the unwanted tissue.

Note the fold line towards the bottom of the pattern piece:


I drew a 2nd line the same distance away on the ruched side of the foldline:


New pattern piece:


The finished garment:


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