Yesterday I finished the 6th and final superhero cape for Vacation Bible School at our church. As there are fewer seamstresses around than there once were, I’m pretty sure those of us who do sew get the whole gamut of oddball requests. I love oddities and challenges, so to me it’s more of a perk of my vocation than a downside. Design and sew a half dozen superhero capes for kids and come up with my own super logos for the backs? Yes, please!
I do have to admit, the church came dangerously close to having 6 little Darkwing Ducks running around for a week…well, 5 little ones plus me-because you know if I had made Darkwing Duck capes, I’d be rocking one of them! As it was, the theme song has been running through my head for the past two weeks. (Remember the songs and catchphrases, you 20 and 30 somethings? “You better watch out you bad boys,” “Let’s get Dangerous,” and let’s not forget the slightly unsavory “Suck Gas, Evildoers!” I bet my mom loved me repeating that all the time.)An Ode to the Dark
Knight, Uh… Wing
An Arrow: Because I ran out of ideas and because Jesus is the Way!A torch…also because I was running low on ideas and Jesus is our light.Yeah, that’s a Bible. My husband thinks it’s lame for a cape, but it’s our Sword of the Spirit, right?
A lightning bolt: Because it looks really cool.
This really has no symbolism behind it, although I could pull some out of my hat if my kids asked me. Moms are great at that- it’s like our superpower! P.S. I went through,like, 3 mangled lightning bolts before I had to look up pictures to draw from. I can’t believe it was that hard, but I was cutting without drawing first. If you want a challenge, I dare you to cut a lightning bolt from fabric without looking at one. If you do it, hit me up in the comments section. If you do it with no trouble, I’ll happily concede to you because this lady had one tough time!A Shield of Faith
Hearts: because the pastor wanted some for girls and what better symbolism for the kids than Love?
This was a really fun project and was also an opportunity to do some more hand stitching, which you know I love!
I used velcro for the neckline to close the cape. I thought that would be nicer than just tying them.
Pardon my cluttered background and to answer your question, Yes. Those are turkeys on the wall. I realize we are a long way out from Thanksgiving, but we happen to be coming around again, which means I don’t procrastinate, I plan ahead!
You can see in this picture just how full these capes are. They are a half circle so the kids can play with them and hold them over their little faces, which is cute. It’s less cute when I do it and pretend to be Darkwing.
I think that’s actually my villain face. Oh well. It was worth it because while I was dressed up and singing the theme song, I realized I could replace “Lets get dangerous” with “Lets get Biblical!” None of the kids will get the reference, but my nerdy friends will! And the people my age who don’t: I’ll just stop hanging out with them. Just Kidding. But not Really.
Since this is already a long post and I’d already gotten out the “Selfie Stick,” here are some pictures of today’s Pinterest hairstyle. I’ve determined to actually try some of the styles I’ve had on my Hair board on Pinterest on myself, my kids, and frankly, probably some unsuspecting friends and family members. I know it isn’t sewing related, but it is fashion related…loosely. So I may do some posts on hair and hairstyles, since the topic is so intermingled with fashion. If you follow my blog and you hate or love that idea, let me know! Styling and taking care of long hair and biracial hair are both close to my heart, so keep an eye out for posts on those topics.
I mentioned in an earlier post, Becoming an Expert Seamstress, that when making a pair of pants for the first time in 8 or 9 years, I realized I had totally forgotten how to sew a fly-front zipper. I found a really good YouTube tutorial on an easy way to do it. Click HERE for the link to the video. Trust me, it’s something you wanna watch. I broke it into steps for this post, but this is really intended as a refresher on what the steps are once you’ve seen her video.
I’m doing this as a blog tutorial because once I began sewing the zipper in the pair of pants I’m working on, I went to her video again and I thought I should make a cheat sheet on the steps she uses until I memorize the process. Then I thought if that would help me, it would probably help you, too, and that’s the story of why I had to seam rip the zipper out of these pants and start again to get photos of each step.
Before we begin, this super easy method only works with a pattern that has the fly extension built into the pants pattern as one piece.
Step 1: Serge the edge of the fly extension and front crotch seam. The Youtube video doesn’t actually show that part, her edges are already serged when she starts the video. If you don’t have a serger, no prob, Bob! Just sew a fairly tight, wide zig-zag stitch along the edge, making sure the needle goes over the fabric edge so it overlocks the raw edge.
Unnecessary Sidebar: My serger and I are frenemies. Like, I hang out with him. But only because I know I need him. It’s definitely love/hate with that guy. I’m getting a little braver as I get to know him more, though.
Step 2: Measure the extension. How far does it go out from Center front? Put a notch at the CF. Mine is about 2″ out. Mark how far down the zipper stop is.
Step 3: Sew the front inseam up to the point the of the notch you just made for your zipper pull. Backstitch. Then sew the rest of the way up to the notch you made at the top for the CF point, using a basting stitch (the longest stitch you have on your machine.) You can mark a sewing line with tailor’s chalk if it makes it easier for you.
Step 4: Press open the seam you just made.
Step 5: Place your zipper face down on the left pant leg fly, so the teeth are touching the Center Front seam and sew (just to the fly extension layer,) using your regular presser foot so the stitch isn’t too close to the zipper teeth. On her tutorial, Diane opens the zipper so she can sew closer to the teeth once she gets to the pull. To do this, make sure your needle’s down and raise your presser foot to slide down the pull a little, then lower your foot and sew to the end.I had to shorten this zipper. If you don’t know how to do it, just measure how long you need it to be and hand or machine sew the new stopping point. Make sure it’s secure because this becomes your actual zipper stop.
Ah, see, once again Scotch tape works for everything!
Step 6: Flip the zipper over so and topstitch beside the row of stitching you just made to attach the zipper. Switch to a zipper foot for this step. You end up with one side of the zipper tape being folded under and topstitched.On the left is my normal foot and the zipper foot is on my right. If you’ve never used a zipper foot before, watch a tutorial or look it up in your machine’s manual. You’ll be glad you did!
Step 7: Open the pants and turn the fly extension with the sewn zipper over so it’s on top of the fly extension for the other pant leg. Fold the edge of the sewn extension back, pin it in place and sew the zipper to the other fly so it’s attached to both.
Step 8: Topstitch on the right pant leg, using your normal presser foot. (If you’re looking at the pants from the front, it will be on your left.) If you’re new to this, it may be best to have a line drawn where you want to stitch. This will be the decorative backwards J shape we all associate with fly front pants. To do this, sew straight down from the top so you catch the extension underneath. Mark or pin on the front of the fabric where you made the notch at the zipper stop point. This is where your stitching will curve in toward the crotch. Lift your presser foot up at this point and turn the other extension you had pinned back so that it will be sewn in the curve, as well.
Step 9: Take out your basting stitch and iron out the crease on the left pant leg.
Ok, so 9 may seam like a lot of steps for an easy zipper, but they’re all baby steps and this method only uses 4 seams! That’s pretty good. I love bullet points and steps written down to remind me of a process untill I have it down, and now it’s available for you guys-and myself-to use on our fly front pants. I hope I did Diane’s tutorial justice. She is such a wonderful teacher and I can’t wait to watch and try her other videos. (There’s one on smocking I’m very interested in…I just don’t know if I have the patience to smock. Mocking, however, is a different story. If there was a mocking tutorial, I’d Nail IT! For sure.)
Happy Sewing! And a Special Thanks to Diane Deziel and herYou Tube Video.
Here’s a quick little tutorial on making a maxi skirt for Spring and Summer. My fabric was a super lightweight guaze, so I lined it with a jersey knit so it wouldn’t be sheer. Because, let’s face it: Nobody wants to see that. If you’re using a thicker fabric and can skip the lining, this skirt would be even simpler and quicker!
Step 1: Measure your waist. You’ll need to multiply that by 1.5 or 2 for the width of the fabric you’ll need for the skirt. If the width you need is more than the width of the fabric (they are usually 45″ wide) then just cut two panels and sew them together.
Step 2: Measure the desired length. You’ll need to know this to purchase the fabric. Make sure to add a little extra for the waistband and hem when you are buying. Remember, you’ll most likely need the length plus the extra times two. It will probably take two panels to make a maxi skirt unless you’re making one for a very small child and the 45″ width will be enough to fit around their waist and gather, or you’re making one that isn’t very full.
Step 3: Cut the fabric and elastic. Just cut a rectangle using your width and length measurements. Make sure to include extra for the hem. Also cut a waistband. I made it the same width as the skirt, because the elastic goes inside and the waistband will gather with the skirt. Then figure out how wide you want the waistband. (A good rule of thumb is to add a quarter inch to the width of the elastic you’re using. If you have 1/2 inch elastic, make your waistband 3/4″, remembering to add seam allowance to that as well.)
Here’s what I did to make cutting a little easier, since my cutting board it shorter than the length and width I needed.Step 4: Hem the skirt. Yes, you heard that right. Do it now before you sew the side seam and your life will be so much easier! One of the advantages to a dirndl, or gathered rectangle skirt, is that you can hem before it’s assembled, so you’re just dealing with a straight line instead of a tube. I finished mine with a rolled hem on my serger. If you have a serger, but don’t know how to do a rolled hem, check out some tutorials on youtube and look at your manual for the exact settings your serger needs to be on. You’ll have to remove the stitch finger, but the manual will tell you how. If your skirt will have lining, hem that as well. If it doesn’t show though the fabric too horribly, you can just serge it and no one will ever notice. That’s how a lot of linings in ready to wear skirts are done, anyway.
Step 5: Sew on the waistband. Just double over the fabric, right sides together of course, and pin to the right side of the skirt. Sew or serge the seam. Once it’s sewn, press the waistband up. I always love to top stitch after that so the waistband never flips back up again. Keep those waistbands in check, ladies!The inside of the skirt’s waistband with lining. Step 6: Insert the elastic. (Make sure you cut it so it stretches around your waist comfortably, but not loose enough to fall off or droop.) There are tools you can buy to do this, but I always use safety pins. They ain’t pretty, but they sure are cheap. And a penny saved is a penny earned, right? Uh, Cha-Ching!Step 7: Sew the center back seam. (Or the other side seam if you had to use two pieces of fabric joined together.)Cool Tip: If you use a serger, you can tuck in the tails using an embroidery thread needle threader. That way they won’t stick out or unravel.Step 8: Iron the back seam. You can also go ahead and top stitch if that’s what your little heart desires. It looks nice on some fabrics and not-quite-so-pleasant on others. As the seamstress and designer, you get to decide! Go nuts.
In my never ending quest to get better at all things fashion, sewing, and blog related, I’ve gotten back to practicing modeling. If you remember my Photo-Oh-No post, you know it’s an uphill battle! I teamed with my friend Duke, at his 2K1 Photography studio for these shots. If you didn’t see my previous post on some of his work, check it out HERE.
These aren’t my designs, but I did style the looks, which was really fun. Modeling is definitely harder than I would have thought, but I think with practice I’ll be able to take really good shots of my work for this blog. I’ve got dresses I’ve made that I want to share with you that I’ve held back on because my only option is the old selfie-in-the-mirror trick. It gets old. I’d really love to hear from any models and photographers out there on handy tips you’ve picked up. The hardest part for me is to not clench my jaw. The pics from this session were a little expressionless because I was so focused on the posing.
As always, I’m gladly accepting the challenge to learn something new and become great at it. That’s what life is about to me-learning and growing as people in the areas we’ve been gifted with talent or interest in. After all we have to be willing to be bad for a while in order to become good. As a perfectionist, there are a lot of areas in life I’ve kind of bowed out on because I was too embarassed to look bad. That’s why I never played any sports. Well, that and a total lack of hand-eye coordination and general athletic ability. But I’m finding that with age, I’m gaining confidence-confidence to try and succeed and even the confidence to fail. What is failure, after all, but a step on the road to success?
I wish I had the attitude I have now when I was a teenager, but I certainly won’t let getting a late start hold me back. Sometimes I look at the 8 or 9 years after design school “wasted” that I could have spent in fashion. I think it would have been so much better to pay my dues in the industry when I was younger and to already be established now. Then when I step back from my pity party and look objectively, I think of the many wonderful people, experiences, and achievements God has blessed me with in that time. And I KNOW His timing is perfect. And I know He’ll make a way, even if that way is something totally unexpected. I spend most of my time being a complete stress case about things I can’t control, but I’m learning how to relax and trust Him for my life. As if I could ever make a better plan for myself than He can!
I have a fashion industry fundraiser this Saturday, and nothing to wear. . .as yet. I was on the fence about going because of the price of the tickets. Now that I’m staying home to be with my kids and design, I don’t feel great about dropping a bunch on an event, even though it means networking with people in the industry here in this state. Then my good friend read about the event in the paper, asked me if I had tickets, and told me I have to go when I said I was unsure. Thank God for people like her! Voices of reason, able to prioritize for me when I’m stumped. Sometimes others value my skills and interests more than I do.
This event is a premiere for the new issue of Pattern Magazine, a great Indiana based fashion magazine. The super cool thing about this is that this issue spotlights race car drivers, some of whom will be there, with the event being held at the Indy 500 track. Admittedly, I won’t know who any of them are, but my husband has been a mechanic all his life. Almost Literally. He grew up with a wrench in his hand, helping and learning from his dad who owns a shop for repairs as well as restoring classic cars. He also did a lot of racing as a kid, so this is right up his, um, alley. (A little junior dragster pun for you there. You’re welcome. Or I’m sorry, depending on how you feel about puns-they’re very polarizing.)
Here’s the problem: I was wavering on my decision to go, so I didn’t get started on something to wear until last Friday. I got some amazing sheer gray fabric tiled with silver rectangles, and some thicker silver fabric for lining.
I came up with the design using bias tape on my form, then drew it up from there. As always, I play it a little fast and loose with the details as I go along.
Here’s the kicker… since it’s sheer, I really, really want to make a jumpsuit out of the silver to go under it. But I’m extremely short on time. Instead of making the pattern for both and then starting to sew (and possibly running out of time with two completed patterns, and two half-sewn garments) I resolved to actually complete the dress before starting on the jumper. That way, if I run out of time, I can always add some lining to the dress, or make an easy little slip or bustier to go under. As pressed for time as I am, I still decided to sew a complete muslin of the bodice first – including interfacing, zippers, and all. I have to make sure this ends up with a great fit! The dress form drape ended up needing a ton of alterations- like 3 inches out of the top of the bodice. I’m very excited about getting better at custom fit, but more excited to get this finished! So for this week, at least until I’m confident it will all get finished, I’ll be posting my progress in short little bursts. Next week I’ll post some tips I’ve discovered during this process. I already have a couple to show you.
Wish Me Luck, Guys!
Between 2 hour delays and working on a separate project last week, this top didn’t come along as quickly as I had wanted it to. But it came nonetheless. It was like Christmas…it came without packages, boxes, or bags, and there was nothing that old Grinch of busy-ness could do to stop it!
Now, I won’t be wearing it without another shirt on under it- unless I had really, really high waisted pants on and it was like a hundred and thirty degrees outside and someone could guarantee me that I wouldn’t run into my dad, or anyone from my conservative family for that matter. I used to throw caution-and modesty-to the wind, much to my mother’s chagrin, but poor girl, she wasn’t as strong-willed as I am. I had an unshakable argument, too. She had been a hippie, a real flower child of the 60s. Like she never went braless! If I had known then what I know now that mother’s are right in ways we can’t imagine in our naive, rebellious youth! Oh well. Now I have my own children to wrangle, so the tables have turned. I’ve already told them they’ll never be more stubborn than mommy, though, so I refuse to back down on the important issues. (That’s my sometimess-too-gentle-and-peaceable mother in the background picture. She was beautiful! Man, if I could take back the misery I caused her, I would. Well, sae la vie, I suppose.)
Back to the shirt. I may not wear it without something under it, but sheer is hot right now! Would I send it down a runway like that or put it in a photoshoot? Heck yes! I may be a fairly modest midwesterner, but I am, after all, an Yves Saint Laurent Girl at heart. . . Mastermind behind the iconic women’s tuxedo and sheer secretary blouses of the 70s- worn, of course, sans bras.
Also, Lets take a moment of reverence for these new palazzo pants. No, I didn’t make them, but I was just as excited to buy them for $11.99 at Sears last week! I will be wearing them with everything! And, yes, they do have pockets. Thank you for rejoicing with me over that fact. I know you did. Because nobody doesn’t love pockets!
This post is for you, Mom, the one who told me to follow my dreams and believed I would be a writer since my second grade teacher told you so. I didn’t want to be for quite a while-perhaps just to be obstinate-but I’m writing now. . .and I love it. I wish I had listened to you sooner, but thank you for never really backing down, even when I ran all over you. You had your way in the end. I love and miss you!
The Moral of the Story?
Always remember to be grateful for pockets! It’s not until you buy a pair of pants, bring them home, and then realize the front pockets aren’t real that you truly appreciate them the way they deserve.
And listen to your mothers! Unless maybe they were hippies. In that case, go ahead and have a little fun with them. I think they enjoy the banter.
Things I learned during this project: Make the next skirt with a teensy bit more ease-especially if there’s no back vent, and for crop tops, cut them longer than you think you’ll need. Even with all the measuring before making the pattern, I didn’t really consider moving around in it. Let’s just say I won’t be raising my arms very high in this top.
My dad will officially kill me if he finds out I’m making clothing for kids with skulls on it, but this Tee was just too perfect for this project to pass up. I’ll just tell him it’s a pirate thing. (Guns and swords he’s totally ok with.)
I had big plans for upcycling this tee, but again, it was too perfect not to use with the gray punk theme, so I went for it. Let’s all take a moment to mourn for all the glorious other projects this shirt will never be turned into now. . . A swing style tank top, a re-worked tee shirt for my daughters, a baby cardigan, and so many more that it had the potential to become. (Or am I the only one who’s hesitant to cut something up because I’m not absolutely sure I’m ready to rule out the other possible projects I could use that fabric for?) There’s still enough there for a tiny garment, anyway.
Leave it in the Comment Section:
What are you guys currently working on? (I know some of you have like 20 irons in the sewing fire right now! Share a few of them with us.)