Saturday, November 27, 2010

French Seam Tutorial

In my last post, I mentioned that I did French seams on the nighties I made for my friend Jessica's daughter Sophie.

French seams are pretty awesome. I don't have a serger, and while I do have a mock overlock stitch on my machine, it uses a ton of thread and the fabric still looks sort of messy. French seams are cool because they completely encase the raw edges inside of the seam so they are totally hidden. They can't fray and they look clean and crisp. They look deviously tricky, but they are really so very simple.

I thought I would write a little tutorial on how to do French seams, in case you are interested. Just keep in mind that I am pretty much self-taught in my sewing skills. I took a class in 10th grade, but for the most part, what I know I have learned by trial and error. This tutorial uses a finished 5/8' seam allowance, so you may have to adjust for your own project. One more thing: I have never written a tutorial before, so if you use it, please leave me a note in the comments and be brutally honest about whether it was helpful and what improvements I could make. Thank you!


Step 1: Place the WRONG sides of your fabric together (opposite of what you would normally do). Stitch fabric together using a 1/4" seam allowance. It will seem weird, but you should be sewing on the right side of the fabric.

Step 2: Fold stitched fabric along seam line, this time with the right sides together. Press well. You want your seam nice and flat. Remember, you will be pressing the WRONG side of the fabric. Just go with it.

Step 3: Stitch on the wrong side of the fabric, stitching 3/8" from your first pressed seam. You are encasing the raw edge inside with this second seam.

That's it! This is how it will look on the wrong side:

And this is how it will look on the right side:

OK-that's how it normally looks, so this photo is not that impressive.

I hope you try French seams sometime. They are easy and quick, and kind of magical. Good luck!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Nighties for Sophie

About a month ago, my friend Jessica emailed me and asked if I would be interested in sewing a nightie for her daughter, Sophie, for Christmas. She gave me a list of things Sophie likes, including dinosaurs, moons, cats, turtles and fairies. I found a bunch of options and eventually Jessica narrowed it down to two choices. Oddly, when you are sewing two of the same thing, it only takes a little longer than it would to sew one, when you would assume it would take twice as long. So I suggested that I just make two nighties, and Jessica thought that sounded like a solid plan.

I used McCall's 5969. And all I could think of the whole time I was sewing it is, why doesn't somebody make a ravelry-type website for sewing? This pattern had issues.

This is Nora, who is 8, wearing the size 7 nightie. Notice how her toes barely peek out the bottom, as the nightie goes all the way to the floor. When they first saw the finished nightie hanging up, the girls thought I had made myself a nice flannel dinosaur gown-that's how big it was. Oddly, the sleeve length is fine. I am trying to imagine the very tall child with freakishly short arms who served as the fit model for this pattern.

The casing on the sleeves was super weird, too. And the illustrations didn't exactly match the directions. I really hate that.

Here's Nora in the turtle nightie. It's a much better fit. I did French seams on both nighties wherever I could, as I do not own a serger. It worked really slick.

I shipped these off to New Hampshire on Wednesday and hope they arrive Saturday. I am really anxious to hear how they fit. I love how they turned out, with the soft flannel, the girly eyelet trim and the bows. I really hope Sophie is pleased with them.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Shirt Dress

A few weeks ago, I spent a couple of days cleaning out our closets and delivering garbage bags of clothes and toys to friends and to the thrift store. It's shocking how much stuff I got rid of, and shocking how much stuff we still own! Where does it all come from?!

Anyhoo, Kevin went through his dress shirts and made a big pile to donate. Among them was a plain black button up that I couldn't stop thinking about. It wasn't anything special, which was the whole point: it was plain. See, I bookmarked this tutorial forever ago and have had it in the back of my mind ever since. And so, when the closets were all shiny and clean, I got out the sewing machine and scissors and went to work.

I found some lemon-lime Fairy Frost fabric in the scrap bin and thought it would be perfect for accent.

And it is perfect, as long as you have a thing for fire fighters. Which I don't. Not that I am against fire fighters or anything, but I sure don't need to dress my daughter like one.

So I went back to the scrap bin and found some pale blue Fairy Frost to add.

Much improved, but still lacking in the charm I was going for.

At this point, Dana and I took a little trip to the fabric store, where we found cute ribbon and fancy buttons.


I am still not totally in love, but considering it used to be a man's shirt, it looks pretty great. I love the idea that my girls could wear dresses made from Daddy's shirts, but I think I made some weird choices on this, starting with the black shirt itself. I will probably try this project again at some point, as it was really fun. I like the idea of a nice, cozy flannel dress. Hopefully Kevin won't mind if I raid his closet again.