The Cindy Swim Suit by BurdaStyle or my peek a boo suit
I made this swim suit long before I started blogging my sewing adventures so I have no photographic evidence, I’m pretty sure it was while I was still operating RitualBath, so blogging was natural bath and beauty related. However this swimsuit showed up in my inbox this morning and I wanted to write it a quick love note.
The Cindy from BurdaStyle, when that website was my only outlet for pdf on demand sewing patterns. Oh how far we have come my indies! First off I did have to grade this a bit as I was a size 16-18 at the time. I made it in a gorgeous burgundy swim lycra from JoAnn’s because I didn’t know any better at the time. Before I go into the problem areas and how I think they can be fixed let me just say, I felt SMOKIN HOT in this swim suit.
My experience and set up for ice dying a two yard piece of denim for making bespoke jeans.
Disclaimer: The substrate I am dyeing on was a gift from www.sewhere.com all other materials were purchased from the listed suppliers.
Too many months ago my friend Mallory gifted me some Cone Mills Stretch denim in natural to “do something fun” with. She suggested pants or a denim jacket and I knew jeans were where I would be heading. I live in jeans and tee shirts. Maybe it’s my up bringing, Grandaddy used to wear “dungarees” and denim work jackets while he taught us how to grow orange trees in the FL heat. Athletic wear on my body everyday seems like a broken promise, and I have enough mom guilt.
Back to ice dyeing I took my sweet time figuring out the how and what, gathered many pinterest pins and finally settled on something that could read more floral and less Electric Daisy Carnival. I have shopped with Dharma Trading Co. before, picked up my indigo and some dye fabrics there and I love their website and customer service. I went with four colors: a turquoise, sage green, amber yellow, and orange. When dyeing with ice having a variety of light and dark colors as well as some contrasting colors (colors across from each other on a color wheel) can really enhance the outcome.
Curvy So Cal Sewists and Cashmerette invade The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA!
On Cashmerette Pattern’s Facebook group, Jenny Rushmore the creatrix behind Cashmerette put the word out that she was planning an escape of the frozen tundra in Boston and heading to sunny Los Angeles on a buying and defrosting trip. She would graciously share her work vacation time with any So Cal sewing ladies wanting to join in a retail shopping excursion to The Fabric Store LA and Mood LA.
I don’t know about anyone else but sewing keeps me away from the outside world, and most times it’s a good meditative practice, so I don’t mind. However my immediate family doesn’t understand the excitement of a well threaded double needle or the reason behind the “WOOHOO” I yell out when the finished stash busting shirt fits well.
So the call to join for an afternoon, with others who know the joys and trials of sewing for a bodacious body, I was in.
If you have never been to Los Angeles, it’s big, like takes 30 – 45 min to get anywhere big. I live in what could be called the suburbs or “the Valley” if you are old enough to remember those movies from the 80’s. Really it could be a city of it’s own hovering at about 1.8 million people (Los Angeles counts that 1.8 in the over all 3.8 million people in the county and city). We came together from surrounding counties some driving an hour to meet up.
It was a great time, swapping stories of pattern makes, alterations and just ohhing and ahhing over all the fun things we were running our hands over.
I highly recommend finding an in-person group to sew or shop with, I know this won’t be my last.
I was given this pattern at a tester for free all opinions are my own.
Phinney Ridge Cardigan by Straight Stitch Design is a classic cuff and waist banded boyfriend or letterman cardigan with many variation possibilities. I agreed to test the size 24 with the hopes that this would be a nice layering piece for my wardrobe. Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs has created some great garment patterns with classic flair. Ruffle hem? Yes, Viewridge Tank, Zipper back detail Yup the Ravenna Top, Box pleats? Sure.
All of her patterns seem to have some design options which I love, I used to buy patterns from the “big four” based on how many garment pieces were in an envelop. A strategy I have now found to be not the best way to buy my patterns.
A few weeks ago I was able to meet up with some SoCal sewists, Jenny Rushmore of Cashmerette and Carie McGowan for a shopping trip to The Fabric Store-LA and Mood. The afternoon did not disappoint. While at The Fabric Store I purchased some glittery lovelies and some Merino wool jersey in basic black and jewel tone fuchsia. I can’t get enough of fuchsia aparently. The black wool jersey was perfect for my SoCal weather and I had plenty for the cardigan pattern.
The Phinney Ridge Cardigan is a great staple and good experienced beginner pattern that will give you quite a confidence boost. You can add buttons, snaps or not at all, there is also the option to lengthen, shorten or add elbow patches.
The pattern size range is from a size 0 -24 (not vanity sized, based on the measurements of your body, and nested for easy grading between sizes) and takes under two yards varying in how wide your fabric is. The instructions are clear and easy to execute, you could try the “ham/hot” cuff method here for the wrist cuffs but either directions work well.
My version in black merino wool jersey is without buttons or snaps as I didn’t have any that went with the light weight jersey, but I did interface it for future button add ons. I sewed it exactly as is without any lengthening or shortening. I could have stood for a shortening in the sleeves and body as I am a bit on the shorter side and the cuffs and band hit about two inches past where they should. With that minor alteration aside I still wear the heck out of it, I mean comfortable wool in classic black, how very Audrey Hepburn of me. I guess you could say, I really like mine, I have worn out cardigans like this and haven’t found RTW replacements. Now I don’t need to, I just need to go back and pick up more wool jersey. The Phinney Ridge Cardigan pattern is on sale till Friday February 24th so there is no reason not to grab one.
I received this online class free as a pattern tester prior to launch, but my opinions are my own.
Before this class I had only drafted clothing with the old fold and trace method. Where you lay your favorite tee or lounge pants on top of your fabric and trace around (including seam allowance) and cross your fingers. For knit pants or lounge wear it turned out ok, in most cases, but was hit or miss. I now know the joy of drafting to my measurements and it has opened up a whole new confidence in wardrobe.
If I have a bad day and need a confidence boost, I can pull out this pattern and whip up a new tee or tee dress in about the same amount of time it would take me to get to the mall and park. I can stay in my pajamas at home, and at the end I have something that fits!!
When this tee drafting class launched there was some fun talk about how it’s designed to be an easy to wear garment for your every day life. Like taking out the garbage,emptying the dishwasher, or setting your instapot for today’s dinner.
The class is sold by SewHere.com and The Self Sewn Wardrobe’s Mallory Donahue. She and her mother Zede host a podcast Sew Here and Mallory hosts a Facebook group called the Self Sewn Wardrobe with a podcast of her live broadcasts from the group. Both have an enormous volume of garment sewing know how, and the content is very informative and entertaining.
My EasyT starts with an online class that is broken up section by section, so you can stop and start as your life dictates. Mallory covers how to measure yourself, and fill in the worksheet that helps you add up your individual drafting numbers. I confess math is not my strong suit and I had to watch this segment two times because I needed to check my work, I tend to transpose numbers. After entering my numbers and following along with the video to calculate my pattern drafting points I was all set to chart some lines. The class also includes some bonus material, and new to me techniques.
I used Pellon tracing paper as that is what I had on hand, I like Swedish tracing paper because it’s a bit less slippery under my pen but almost any wide paper will do. I was able to watch and re-watch the initial drafting video multiple times since each chapter or segment is it’s own video. This was super helpful because I was interrupted more than once by “mom life” events. I used an acid green poly something I bought by the pound at The Loft and it shifted all the time. I was still able to finish it in less than an hour.
The EasyT class covers how to draft your own tee in woven with a few inches of ease so the shirt comes on and off easily and drapes nicely (depending on the type of woven you use, and Mallory covers material choice in one of the videos). I learned enough from the videos on the ease and drafting that by the end of the class I was able to make two more EasyT’s in tissue weight jersey and sweater knit, and then I thought “what about a tee dress” and BAM! an hour later I have my favorite house dress and it’s boring grey twin. I still have plans to draft one for my pre-pre-teen as she is getting harder to shop for and with this pattern I would be able to sew her a shirt for every day of the week on a good weekend.
Give it a try! I hear there are more video’s coming and the pod casts are full of useful info, and fun mother daughter banter.
Knit fabrics can be a very forgiving fabric to sew with. The degree of stretch (how much the fabric can be pulled out and recover from) make fitting a garment to your individual shape a bit easier. I have a knit twill skirt that has box pleats and low recovery, it was a bad choice but the print was so much fun I went against my better judgment. When I wear this skirt, at the end of the day it’s pleats are a bit saggy and the garment is heavy. However it has vintage Bakelite buttons and pockets so in the closet rotation it stays. Stretch and recovery vary from fabric to fabric but the overall structure of knit (the loops and chains instead of the x and y-axis of woven fabrics) help reduce fraying and makes the wearing ease flexible and a useful material to master.
The patterns that call for knit fabric usually have negative ease calculated into the pattern measurements unlike with woven you have an average ease of an added 3-4 inches for your measurements. Sometimes when you cut out your size (that you have measured your body for, don’t use your store size, please) the paper may seem a bit small, that is negative ease. Your chosen fabric will stretch on your form, unlike woven fabric which must be fit to your form with seams, darts and design lines.
Knits also come in many different substrates (the base fabric that is printed on, dyed or knit) and some of the names may be regional. Tee shirts are often sewn in an interlock, jersey or tissue weight jersey. Some of the more stable knits that are stretchy but not as much as interlock are ponte de roma, sweatshirt knit, sweatshirt terry, fleece, and scuba knit. Then there are the knits we use in lingerie and athletic sewing like power mesh, tulle Leonardo, swimwear lining, swimwear lycra, dance lycra (which might have more foils and shiny treatments than swim), nude mesh and some nylon tricots (pronounced tree coat, tricot has a bit of mechanical stretch but not much recovery).
There are some wovens that behave like a medium weight knit because they have added into the weave fibers like lycra, spandex or polyester. Some of these would be called stretch denim, stretch twill, stretch shirting, and stretch velvet. These substrates do have some fraying tendencies so treating your seam allowance is necessary.
When sewing knit fabrics on your machine there are needles you need to use called ballpoint or stretch needles. They have different numbered sizes for light to heavy weight fabrics. They are a necessity because the tip of the needle is rounded and will push though the loops and chains instead of cutting them. If you forget to use the right needle you will notice your seams begin to wear out and tear at the stitched thread line.
Machine wise you don’t have to have a serger, a straight stitch lengthened or a zigzag stitch will work well. Many of my projects are made on my sewing machine with a zigzag. One tool for your machine that is very helpful with sewing knits is the accessory foot called a walking foot. When your fabric is fed through the machine it is lightly gripped by feed dogs, those grippy teeth like things below the foot. The walking foot has extra feed dogs on the foot so that both the top and bottom fabric are fed equally. Another way to reduce the drag from the presser foot is to reduce it’s downward pressure. Each machine is different and may or may not allow this, look in your manual or online for tips.
Knit clothing items are some of the most forgiving of all the sewing garments, I think because the fiber stretches giving you up to an inch or more of wiggle room. Understanding the proper tools and tips will get you started with this versatile substrate. The forgiving fibers in knits stretch around your form, fitting you and giving room to breath. Some give and recover their shape very quickly and easily, these usually have more spandex and lycra content (the end of the bolt of fabric will sometimes tell you the percentage). When you make a pair of underwear for instance you want enough spandex or lycra that while you wear them throughout the day they don’t sag down your bum (trust me I have made this mistake).
I have posted about my first and most fabulous Harrison Shirt by Cashmerette Patterns. I made it out of Art Gallery Denim Collection and it is washing and wearing well (except for a little extra wrinkling in the collar but I think that’s a fusible interfacing issue)
I had a few yards of black double gauze and half a yard of a japanese print double gauze that I though would be an interesting version #2 with contrast back, cuffs, collar and button placket. Sadly the colors didn’t work for me, one was deep navy and the other true black. Maybe this should have been my first sign to change ideas but I persevered on.
After the new year I reorganized my sewing room (even well-organized places need a refresh after all) and had all my fabrics easily accessible based on what I was most likely to sew often. This unearthed a fine wale corduroy that I had purchased for the big kid probably four years ago or so, back when she still liked pink. Oh how things have changed. A lightbulb went off! Oh what about pink and black and pearl snap buttons!!! And at this point if you are wondering if I have western boots to go with this glorious concoction of contrasts the answer is yes, yes I do. They are grey with rainbow stitching and I found them at a thrift store for eleven bucks, I love treasure hunting.
So I began, body of the shirt to be black double gauze, back yolk and all little bits were going to be this corduroy print.
Everything was ok the fabrics were playing well together, they have a velcro like stick to each other capacity so less pins. But the corduroy shifts, and warps. Could be user error, not on straight grain or could be a sub par substrate (that is what the base fabric is called). I continued on and used my nifty new Tula Pink Surgical Seam ripper often. Did you know that it’s hard to seam rip black thread on black fabric? I think in the future I will go with navy or a deep grey as my glasses and Ott light didn’t help, I wonder if it was like that black paint and absorbing all the light so I couldn’t see?
Then I run out of black thread, sort of. I later realized I have cones of black serger thread but that’s ok, I went to one of our local independent retailers and found high quality thread (yes thread matters, listen here and find out why) and some seam tape for a future bra. I was on track to finish this shirt in time for my weekend. This project is a lesson in not rushing through.
My super cute light pink Dritz pearl snaps I bought on sale from WaWak were right where I needed them thanks to my organizing overhaul. I began with a cuff because if I mess up, there is less visual impact. Then where is my snap setter? Can’t find it anywhere. I have an eyelet press, a leather punch and no snap setter, seems wrong to me. Thank goodness for JoAnn’s coupons, in less than 30 minutes I have what I need and hammer away.
It’s not working. The prongs aren’t catching, try again with a new set, and it looks like I have it. I set the mate with no problem, woo hoo! I snap them together, nice tight fit, oh very tight, oh guess I need to pull harder (this is going to be challenging to do up or undo the front) and POP! The pearl back snap has popped off. GRRR. Ok I post a picture and my dilemma on one of my favorite FB groups and ask for help, we all need help sometimes. Prongs are probably too short for my fabrics. SIGH
This shirt is going to be awesome. When I have the right snaps or buttons, I don’t know what it is going to be at this time, but I do know that I don’t need to force it any further. I have a fun shirt that will be finished when the time is right and not a moment before. So there it hangs. I am happy with the fit and will not settle for notions that do not fit or function in a way that make it a pleasure to wear.
What is the longest you’ve had a project sit and wait for the final touches?
I know how it is to organize a sewing space in a tiny apartment with kids, a loft with your partner, my bedroom, or now in my luxurious sewing room. You see we have moved A LOT, and while it is a pain in the rear, it has definitely honed my spacial relation skills. There are some who have their own space like I do now and some who have to pick up and pack up mid project. It’s hard, but I sew not only for the better fitting, feeling and longevity of my garments but because it brings me peace. I think I must weave in a bit of magic for each successful make.
When my sewing was confined to my bedroom:under bed storage was great for my tools and patterns. It quickly slid in and out-of-the-way, was shallow enough to see everything and held a lot. Fabric has and continues to live (sometimes I think multiply in the dark) in large rubbermaid bins. They stack easily, have great handles and aren’t too heavy to move about. My sewing table was a folding banquet table that I used for craft shows as well but any hard surface would have worked.
When I shared a loft with my partner: I still had rubbermaid bins for fabrics and those lived in a spare closet. The plastic drawer units held my patterns organized by garment type and my tools by frequency of use (all my leather working tools in the bottom drawer and my sewing scissors and such in the top). I kept the room mostly room like with a large desk as my sewing table and the bed with a cardboard cutting mat as my cutting table (this was before my love of rotary cutters). The only thing that was more sewing room like was the duct tape dress form of myself.
When I sewed with kids in a tiny apartment: I can’t sing the praises of stacking, lidded bins enough. All fabric lived in a bin organized by home dec, suiting, special occasion, cottons, and knits. Yeah I had a lot of fabrics. My sewing supplies were in a plastic tool box by Martha Stewart for Kmart. I can’t find mine but any art supply bin or Caboodle will do (for us 80’s kids). I still had the cardboard cutting mat and would lay that on the dining room table to cut out my projects. I would work as far as I could then box everything back up till next time. Sometimes it was 5min of sewing or 2 hours, sometimes it was days between. I think this is where my dislike of UFOs started (UFO’s are Un Finished Objects).
When I have my own room: I love books and now have a book shelf for all my sewing and art related books and magazines. On it I also have a small plastic drawer unit with my sewing needles, glues and tapes. In two other boxes with a lids are my office supplies and electronic supplies. Next to my book shelf is a very small Ikea dresser that has all my big four patterns (McCalls, Vouge, Butterick and Simplicity) and on top of it in manilla envelopes and magazine holders are all my print at home and indi patterns. Fabrics mostly still live in rubbermaid bins but now I am down to two. One for all my quilting cottons (I’m not a quilter so I don’t pull them out often) and another overflowing with my garment fabrics of varying make up. I do have one of the closet hanging shelf things for my sewing and lingerie fabrics as I don’t have much of them. All my notions are in lidded shoebox size plastic boxes by type: zippers, bias and assorted tapes, buttons and fasteners, bra making, elastics, piping and velcro. This makes it easy to grab what I need and know if I have it or need to run to the store.
Do you have any great organization tips to share? I have been meaning to keep a fabric swatch book or a digital form, I hear good things about Evernote. What have you used?
My tips and suggestions for fabric shopping in Downtown Los Angeles CA
Fabric shopping can be so exciting, sometimes even treasure hunt like. I live about 45 minutes away from one of North Americas few fabric and manufacturing hubs, Downtown Los Angeles. Where there is garment manufacturing there is fabric. If you are visiting Los Angeles, you like to make clothing for yourself or others and you brought an extra suitcase (not really, but maybe) you really should get out there and shop DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles).
There is lots of walking and lots of people (if people aren’t your thing try to go during the week or early in the day)
It is very dirty downtown and you will be walking, a lot
Micheal Levine has a bathroom, most fabric shops don’t, some chain restaurants or food places may want you to deposit a quarter or use a code given by a cashier to unlock the bathroom
Bring cash. While many are totally fine with using a card swiper, you have more bargaining leverage if you pay cash, at the smaller vendors especially
If you are driving, everything is paid parking expect on average $20 (I’ve usually paid about $15 but rates can change) or use a social ride service, taxi or public transport
There are a multitude of small shops along Maple Ave. packed so tight it’s hard to walk into them but it is so worth it, thats were I found an entire roll of picot elastic for $6.00. Be aware some are closed on Saturday but open on Sunday. In between Maple Ave. and Santee St. on E. 9th St. is my favorite place to find swim and some underwear fabric Blue Moon, Google maps will take you to an indoor mall where its appointment only so beware. On Maple Ave. is Michael Levine’s, the map apps will take you to the right location for this one and it is worth it for a wide variety of fabrics, notions, yarn and ribbon or just a bathroom break.
Across the street from the main Michael Levine location is their Upholstery fabric and The Loft above. DO NOT MISS THE LOFT! This is where the treasure hunting starts. Up above the beautiful rolled and sorted upholstery fabrics are large boxes and bins of “one offs” “remnants” and “end of bolts”. Sometimes it’s a yard or it could be four, all of it is sold by the pound. I found loads of poly and nylon for lingerie sewing and knits, oh so many knits. The Loft is closed on Sunday so plan accordingly.
If you go on a weekday or Sunday (they are closed Saturday) there is a large vendor of trims and elastics on Maple between 9th and 8th. The building has “Trim Expo” painted on it but I don’t know if that is still the name of the business. So many beaded trims, woven ribbons, wedding lace and lingerie elastics in the back.
Once you are done getting down and dirty for your fabric fix, head toward Mood Fabrics in the Miracle Mile/La Brea part of Los Angeles. There on S. La Brea Ave you will find Mood fabrics and a bit farther up The Fabric Store-Los Angeles. This is where you can find silks and french ribbons, linens and New Zealand merino Jersey. At Mood they are happy to help pull down rolls or if you are wanting to “wait and see” give you a generous swatch. I am still using the swatch of Tulle Leonardo I received there, Bra making is great for using small bits of fabric.
There is also FIDM to visit if there is a costume or fashion installation to be displayed but that is for another post. I hope this has giving some intrepid sewist out there the info they need to explore what DTLA has to offer, it really is an experience that should not be missed.
I don’t know if many of you know this but I began my professional career in the graphic arts. Ruby lift and waxers were on the way out and Adobe and Quark were my first forays into creating art and solving design problems on screen. I still love it and decided to marry my two loves visual arts and sewing to create a graphic art work that could be printed on tee shirts and similar items because I am trying to also craft a business.
I started this because I want to buy more sewing machines and the proper business accoutrements to get back to teach sewing classes. Drafting patterns takes some time and while I have a few accessory patterns drafted I haven’t digitized them yet. Like digital patterns and online content these things take time and effort, this design was dropped into my subconcious by my sewing muse and I offer it up to everyone. Putting this out into the world is one tiny step towards that goal of making sewing related arts my profession as well as my meditation.
My art work “As Above Sew Below”
“‘Tis true without lying, certain and most true. That which is below is like that which is above and that which is above is like that which is below.” – Isaac Newton
“Whatever is below is similar to that which is above.” translation from the Emerald Tablet
“The builders of Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple in Cambodia, strove to outline the form of the universe on earth. The outer moat of Angkor Wat symbolizes the primordial oceans, the inner court is the earth, and the temple precinct represents the heavens. The idea behind presenting the unity of cosmoses visually was to enable pilgrims who visited the temple to experience its truth internally. “As above so below and as within so without”; he or she who explored the temple grounds could meaningfully contemplate this philosophical truth from within its physical manifestation.” Ark in Time