Monday, March 24, 2014

Lazy Susan Tutorial: how to add a bow to the neckline

over the years i have had many people ask me what my favorite pattern is. i have a really, really, really hard time answering. this stays true to this day. all of my patterns mean a little something different to me. 

however, if you were to ask what pattern i felt was the most dear to me...i might have an answer for you.

the lazy susan

there is just something about the lines of this dress/top that appeal to me over and over again. and, it just might happen to be the most versatile pattern in my collection. the lines are so simple and so classic that you can do so much with it and have it turn out fabulous. i also adore the way louisa looks in a lazy susan, so that too may have some impact on why i hold it so dear. ;)

with all of that said...i want to show you yet another way you can use your lazy susan pattern.

in this blog post, we will learn how to add this adorable bow to the classic neckline of the lazy susan.


i cannot imagine it getting any sweeter than that. oh how i love this variation!

ps - check out that front tooth. it is so loose that it is hanging sideways. the hair on the back of my neck prickles just thinking about it. haha.

first things first - hopefully you already have the pattern. if not - you can find it here in my etsy shop

now, make the decision of whether you want to make a dress or a top (the main difference is the bodice length, the top is more empire-waisted and the dress has almost a drop waist). i honestly think this bow will look precious on either! the only additional item you will need for this variation is another 1/4 yard of fabric for your bow neck. you probably wont even use all of that, but add the leftovers to the scrap bin!

just a tid-bit: this is just a tutorial to be used in conjunction with the actual pattern. i will not go into details here on construction or how to make the dress itself. this tutorial only includes instructions on how to add the bow to the neck. 

3/8" seam allowance unless otherwise stated
 
okay - let's get started! grab your outer (not lining) bodice pieces and sew along the shoulder seams as shown by the dotted line. take over to the ironing board and press out those seams. 


take the outer bodice to a flat surface and lay it right sides up. now, here is your time to be the designer. you want to choose a place on the neckline where you want your bow to tie. i chose to put mine a few inches off the left shoulder. you can do the same or swap it to the center or right side. there is NO right or wrong here. place 2 pins about 1/2" apart (the black lines below) in the place you choose for your bow.


now what we are going to do is to measure our neckline for the bow. i will refer to this as your yellow measurement and your blue measurement to avoid any confusion by using lefts and rights. i know this is all super fancy, but follow me here. :) you will want to pull a measurement on each side from the edge of the back of the bodice, around the neck to the place where you have a pin for the bow. these are shown as the blue and yellow lines above. since these areas have some curve to them, grab a string or piece of elastic (this is my method of choice as i always have bits of elastic laying around - but make sure NOT TO STRETCH as you measure) and measure each side. 

for purposes of the tutorial, i will tell you my measurements. please don't confuse these with yours!

yellow = 10"
blue = 7.25"


write those measurements down and grab the strip of fabric you want to use for your bow. decide how wide you want your finished bow. (this translates as how much you want it to stick up off of your neckline) i went with a finished bow of 1". looking back, i wish i would have gone maybe 3/4", but you know what they say about hindsight. once you have determined a finished width, let's get on with our first math equation. ;)

(finished width * 2) + 3/4"

so, for me, since i had a finished width of 1", this was my equation.

(1 * 2) + 3/4 = 2.75"

so, i knew that i would be cutting my bow strips with a width of 2.75". hopefully i haven't lost anyone yet. now, you need to determine the length for your strips. i added 20" to my length for each strip to account for the tying of the bow and some "hang down." this is up to you, although i would suggest giving yourself at least 15" of extra for each strip.

so, back to my yellow and blue measurements and your second equation.

yellow measurement + extra = length of bow strip for yellow side
blue measurement + extra = length of bow strip for blue side

in my case, i came up with:

yellow: 10 + 20 = 30" long
blue: 7.25 + 20 = 27.25" long

now, we will have seam allowances and such taken off of this, but honestly i didn't think it was enough to worry about since it is a bow and will have some excess. trust me here. 

with all that math aside, i now know that i will cut 2 strips for my bow as follows:

yellow side:  30" long by 2.75" wide
blue side: 27.25" long by 2.75" wide

do the same math with your measurements and get ready to cut your strips.


now, let me write a little "aside" here. i did not cut my strips on the bias. my fabric for the bow was a very thin, lightweight voile that had some drape to it. if you are using a fabric that is a little heavier in weight or doesn't drape well, i would recommend cutting on the bias for the bow strip so that it does lay better around your neck. this is totally up to you. i also used lightweight interfacing the first time i did this only to determine it doesn't need it, so for once...the quicker way won with me! hooray.

okay, back to work. grab your yellow measurement strip and fold in half with right sides together. on one end, you will take it over to the machine and stitch at an angle as shown below.


once sewn, clip the edge close to the seam to reduce the bulk once we turn it right sides later.


alrighty, now, place that strip (still right sides together) on a flat surface and measure from the edge of the angle you just stitched out by the amount of your yellow measurement. since my measurement was 10", i have measured out 10".


 place a small mark on the wrong side of your fabric on the raw edge where the measurement comes to.


now, you are going to sew from that mark you made all the way down the raw edge to the end and finish with an angle just as you did before. make sure to clip the edge along the angle that you sew just as you did with the other end to reduce bulk.


basically, you will the sew the strip together at an angle at both ends and along the long edge. you will NOT SEW the strip along the amount for your yellow measurement. i am afraid i may need more coffee because i think i am making this sound harder than it is. be right back. ;)

once sewn, you want to clip along the line you made that separated the side you stitched from your yellow measurement. clip up to the seam allowance (3/8") and no more. be very careful here.


now, take this strip over to your ironing board and pull it right sides out and press. as you can see below (if you aren't completely tripping from the bright ironing board cover that i do love so much but am thinking it was a terrible choice for a PDF pattern designer, haha) the raw edges are exposed along my yellow measurement. 


take your "yellow side" bow strip over to a flat surface. lay your bodice right sides up. place the raw edge portion (the yellow measurement) of your bow strip along the neckline. you want to place the angled edge about 3/8" from the back of the bodice as shown below so that we can allow for the seam allowance later. pin in place 3/8" from the edge.


i do not recommend pinning all the way around before sewing here. this is one of those times that you will need to work your fabric as you sew. i suggest taking your bodice and bow strip over to the machine and easing that bow strip along your neckline as you go. trust me, pinning along the curve might make you lose your sanity. it is much easier to ease as you go.


stitch all along the neckline up to the pin you placed on your bodice to mark the bow point. the raw edge should line up with the pin as shown below.


take a deep breath, you've got one side done! now, repeat the steps above for the blue measurement. once you have your bow strip for the "blue side" done, do the same with placement on the neckline for it as you did with the other side making sure to leave the 3/8" seam allowance on the back bodice. take it to your machine and work that strip along the neckline.


again, the edge of the raw edge should line up with your pin from earlier.


take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back. the bow section is done. :) now grab the lining bodice pieces and sew the shoulder seams just as you did above and press out those seam. with the bodice outer lying right sides up on a flat surface, pin down your excess bow fabric as shown so that you don't get it caught in the seams when sewing the lining.


place your bodice lining right sides together with the outer bodice and pin together matching shoulder seams just as you do on page 16 of the pattern tutorial. sew along the dotted lines making sure NOT to catch any excess bow fabric in your seams. 


now, clip the ever-living snot out of your curves as shown on pages 17 and 18 of the pattern tutorial. pull your bodice pieces right sides out from the front just as you do in the pattern and head over to the iron to press that bodice out. oh, and don't forget to swoon when you see that bow neck!!!


with right sides together, pinch together your side seams matching the underarm seams for both sides (page 20 of the tutorial for more information). stitch both side seams and take to the iron and press.

 
and guess what ladies...voila! you are done with the bodice portion of your bow neck lazy susan! follow the rest of the pattern tutorial for your skirt pieces and then get ready to fall out of your chairs over the cuteness!!


thanks for joining in and i cannot wait to see what you create! have you joined the brownie goose lovers group on facebook yet? if not, come join the fun and share all of your BG creations!

Friday, January 17, 2014

pepper dress to coat sew along - day 3, final construction and finishing touches

okay ladies - here we are on our very last day. and a friday at that. i love fridays!

if you are just now joining us, check out the information on the sew along that starts here. then, you can see day 1 and day 2 to catch yourselves up.

let's jump right in! yesterday was a big day. we got both the inner and outer coats finished and button tabs and trim added. fun times in the sewing room. today, we will put those 2 coats together and add buttons and button holes to make it functional. then your little supermodel will shine in her pepper coat! i know i for one will be envious!

alrighty. this step is like the wost ever to take a picture of. but, lay your outer coat right side up on a flat surface. you want to maneuver it in a way that you will have what i call a "box figure." meaning you want it looking like there are 4 sides - right side, top, left side and bottom. run with me here, trust me. ;)


now, what you want to do is to lay your inner coat right sides together on top of the outer matching up the shoulder seams, the sides (especially where the bodice meets the skirt), bodice and bottom. pin like there is no tomorrow. this step is in no hurry. promise. you will pin all the way around the 4 sides leaving the sleeves alone to hang out in the middle and have a bell sleeve party.

user friendly tip - i found it is easiest to go ahead and pin the 2 sides and the top. then, once those are secured to each other, you can fan out the bottom (due to the gathered skirt) and pin it accordingly.

ps - would you cry if i told you THIS was the point i got to before i realized i failed to cut my bodices mirror image? seriously. i cried. and then i got so mad at myself! thankfully i had extra fabric for the inner!

once all 4 of your sides are pinned together, you will have this. 


thanks to my vanna, i thought it may help to see this held up and not laying on a surface. you will then sew, very, very carefully around all 4 edges with a 3/8" seam allowance as shown by the black lines. just to clarify - that bottom will flatten out. the lines got all crazy because i tried to show how to sew with it all draped like that. this is one of those times where it would have been nice to check out my photos to see what i had to work with before i sewed it all shut. oops - if this confuses yall, please let me know!

once you have it all sewn, very carefully clip your curves just as you would in the pattern. then, the best part...and the part i sweated buckets over when making because it was the test of time to make sure it all pulled out right sides okjay. reach into one of your sleeves and work on pulling the entire coat through that sleeve. trust me, it makes no sense at all, but it works and you will feel the need to squeal when you have it done. :)

take it over to the ironing board, put on your comfy shoes and some good tunes and take your time and press this beauty out. i haven't forgotten the sleeves. promise we are about to get there but the pressing of this coat just might be the most important step (other than cutting mirror images, haha). 

once pressed - let's turn our attention to the sleeves. reach inside and pull your inner sleeve down all the way and press that 1/2" hem that you pressed earlier.


then, pull the outer sleeve down over the inner and re-press that 1/2" seam as well. you see, is it all starting to make sense?? it is so much harder, in my opinion to press once sewn as a sleeve, so that is why i had y'all press it early. methods to the madness. ;) now, match up your sleeve seams on both the inner and outer sleeve and pin together.


take over to the sewing machine and top-stitch around the very edge of the sleeve to stitch the two together. remember since you are going to see both sides to use coordinating thread for your top needle and your bobbin!


when finished, you should have a stitch that looks like this. now, repeat with other sleeve. ps - this is a fabulous spot for a decorative stitch!


and guess what girls - the construction is DONE. now all we need to do is to add the button holes and buttons. we are just a few steps away from an awesome coat!!

first up - button holes. okay, i am going to give directions for a completely reversible coat option. meaning you will have buttons for both sides. if you are just using the inside of your coat as a lining, then you can follow the directions just as they are in the pattern for placing the buttons. first things first. it is very important that you choose buttons for both sides that are roughly the same size. why you may ask - well, you will only have 1 size button hole, so you need that to fit both buttons, inner and outer. mine are like 1/8" from each other, but that small amount of discrepancy is fine, i would not go over 1/4" difference in size.


pick the largest button to use for your button hole. place it in your sewing machine's button hole foot before you forget. and please don't panic when you cannot find this button later. one day i will learn to check my button hole foot first.


 
now, it is button placement time. i wont go into much detail here, but if you reference page 16 in the pattern i go into all kinds of detail. :) i like to eyeball button placement. here, i have my coat placed on my dress form and am using pins to hold the buttons in place. but, as you can see in the pattern it is just fine to have it laid on a flat surface. i am only using 2 buttons for the coat, but you can use as many as you choose. you can also just do one right around where the bodice and skirt meet. that would allow the top of your bodice to flap over revealing your pretty inner fabric too. once you are happy with button placement, mark your spots just as you would in the pattern for the button holes and then head to the machine and sew the button holes. now, just as with the sleeve stitching, remember that you will be seeing both sides of this coat (if you are making it reversible) so make sure to use the coordinating thread for the bobbin.


once your button holes are sewn, open them up as instructed in the pattern on page 29. now, time to mark our buttons. first, mark your outer fabric buttons. this will be the only marking you will do as the inner buttons will need to be very close to this mark as well, so we will just work off the one mark.


to sew buttons on both sides, you will have to hand sew one side. you will sew one side of buttons with your machine first, then hand sew last. the lazy smart girl behind BG picks the buttons that are easiest to hand sew to hand sew. :) for instance, my inner buttons have 4 holes to sew while my outers have 2. so, i choose to sew my inner buttons on first by machine. 

since the buttons on both sides will use the same button holes, they need to be in the same place. however, it is near impossible to sew them in the exact same place and i have found it makes it harder to use the buttons if they are on top of each other. so, for your inner side of the coat, you will place your buttons 1/8" away from the outer buttons toward the inside of the bodice. that sounds confusing. here is a picture. see how the green dots (where the inner buttons will be) are 1/8" off from the outer buttons?


so, head over to the machine and sew your inner buttons on where marked 1/8" off from your outer button markings. if you have pins marking the spot, make sure to take those out before you ruin your machine. i had those there for picture purposes only as i had my markings on the outside with a pen. 

side note: if you outer buttons have 4 holes, then please do this backwards, meaning start with those first. i want you to make it as easy as you can for yourself too!


now, this is what it will look like on the inside where the buttons are. you can't see the outer button markings can you? awesome. that is the point. we are on the verge of magic here ladies.


 and here is what the outer looks like. see how i still have room for my outer button but they wont be right on top of each other?


 now for the tricky part. grab a comfortable seat and find some more good tunes (i prefer golden oldies, i heart them) as this next and LAST task takes some patience. you are going to now hand sew the outer buttons on. however, since you have buttons on the inside, it wont go as easy as it usually does with those inner buttons in the way. so, work around this inner button as best you can working the needle under it for good positioning and sew the outer buttons in place.


 once sewn, see how you can no longer see the stitches from the inner button? what did i tell you about magic? the buttons work together to hide each other's stitching. now, how about that for some teamwork? :) now, continue hand sewing your other outer buttons.


 and guess what ladies? you are so done with your pepper coat. pat yourself on the back big time! you will certainly impress the pants off of people when you tell them that yes, you made that. :)

i hope you have enjoyed this sew along! maybe you learned something new along the way, i know i did! if you have any questions or concerns, please email me or post to the brownie-goose lovers page on facebook. and speaking of the page - i cannot wait to see your creations!

thanks again ladies for all of your fabulous support. i couldn't make it without such amazing sewing friends. now, off to finish the upsize of the sleepy jeans. :)

xoxo - amy


Thursday, January 16, 2014

pepper dress to coat sew along - day 2, pocket, skirt and trim construction

just a warning - it is late and my brain has already gone to bed so excuse any nonsense that may occur after this sentence. i was supposed to do this while nash was at school today but i got too focused on the sleepy jean upsize. oops. so now with 2 large helpings of macaroni and cheese and the kids in bed i am trying my very bestest to focus. ;)

so, day 2. here we go! if you are just now joining us, check out the info on the sew along here, and day 1 progress here.

without delay, let's get started! now that we have our bodices and sleeves constructed, let's turn our attention to the skirt and pocket portion of our coat. first up - cutting of the skirt pieces. you see, in the dress pattern we gather the skirt in the round to fit the circumference of the bodice. here, we will basically think of it as 3 sides: the front right, back and the front left. so, first things first, let's separate our skirts into 3's. take ONE of your skirt rectangles and cut it in half width-wise. the easiest way to do this is to fold it in half width-wise and cut up the fold.

to bring math into it, maybe to help out, i am working on a size 4. (let's just focus on the outer fabric right now.) i have 2 rectangles that are 12.5" long (remember i took 2" off) by 34" wide. i am going to take ONE of these rectangles and cut it in half so that i now have 2 that are 12.5" tall by 17" wide and then i also have my original rectangle that is 12.5" tall by 34" wide. this is where you will see what i mean by 3's. the widest is the back,  and the 2 i just cut are the front left and front right. clear as mud? good. now do the same thing with your inner fabric. once finished you should have 6 rectangles total. 

now that is out of the way, set your inner skirt pieces aside and grab you outer skirt pieces and pockets. let's start with your front 2 pieces. lay them right sides up on a flat surface and grab 2 of your pockets and place them about 1.5-2" down from the top as shown below. i have used 1.5". pin these in place and then take over to the sewing machine and with a 1/4" seam allowance, sew the pocket to the skirt as shown by the dotted line. using a smaller seam allowance helps the pocket to remain hidden inseam. that is our fancy pants for today. :) if you do not want to do pockets - skip on down a few steps and continue with the construction of the skirt panels.

 
now, do the same with the other 2 pockets and the back panel of your skirt. make sure that you use the same distance to place your pockets from the top as you did on the front 2 pieces, in my case, the 1.5". also, don't forget that 1/4" seam allowance!


take all 3 skirt panels to the ironing board and with right sides facing up, iron those pockets out to the side as shown below. now, if you are doing inseam pockets for your inner fabric as well, repeat these previous steps for the inner.


construction of skirt panels: (if you are not doing pockets, this is where you will pick up and instead of sewing around the pocket, just sew a straight side seam) place your back skirt panel right sides up on a flat surface. then, place your front panels on top right sides together matching up the sides and pockets and pin. then, sew with a 3/8" seam down the side seam and around the pocket as shown below. repeat with other side.


once again, no need to finish these seams as they will be enclosed. take over to the iron and press the seam and pockets toward the front panel.


you have now constructed the outer skirt for your coat. repeat all of the steps above with your inner fabric. it was at this point when i started to have flash backs of my assembly-line sewing in the earlier days of BG. :)

okie. now let's focus on finishing the bodice construction so we can get that skirt attached. lay one of the bodices you completed yesterday (i have now photographed the inner fabric for mine, don't let that throw you off) on a flat surface right sides together. match up the underarm, sleeves and sides and pin in place. sew from the sleeve opening to the underarm and down the side with a 3/8" seam allowance. now, remember how we went ahead and "hemmed" the sleeves? to sew around that hem, we will open the pressed fold and sew through it - see below.

see how i pinch open the fold here?


 and again, pinching it open while i sew. this will all make sense later, pinky promise!


again, no need to finish seams but do take over the iron and press them out. when finished, one of your bodices should look like this. from left, front panel, back and then front panel. repeat these same steps with your other bodice. it is now time to work on gathering that skirt to attach. eeeeeeks!


lay one of your skirt panels on a flat surface. you are going to sew a gathering stitch along the top of the skirt panel. make sure you have the top and not the bottom. someone i know was too busy harmonizing with the indigo girls and gathered the wrong edge only to have to rip later. oops. just as sweet brown said, "aint nobody got time for that." start about 1/2" in from one of the front panels, run the stitch all the way across that one, through the back panel and then across the other front panel ending about 1/2" from the raw edge. if you are unfamiliar with gathering, please see the glossary at the end of the pattern for more instructions.

 
now, remember how i told you earlier that i would rather poke eyeballs than gather in the round? well, 'tis true and if you feel the same you are about to get excited. we are about to gather to an open panel. yay, the clouds just split and i heard the singing too. :)

this is the best way i have found to do this. place your bodice right sides up on a flat surface opening it as much as it allows (since the side seams are sewn up). now, place your skirt panel right sides together with the top (where you made your gathering stitch) matching up with the bottom raw edge of the bodice. match up the 2 sides seams of the bodice with the side seams of the skirt panel and pin in place.


okay, work that gathering stitch (you may have to remove the pins to gather it beyond) so that your skirt panel fits the bodice. make sure to keep all of your side seams aligned. it would be tragic to have a wonky side seam after all of your hard work! as you gather, pin in place. then take over to the machine and sew along that edge. i will usually use a 1/2" seam allowance here. you are welcome to do the same, i just find that it makes the gathers look a bit neater. however, you are certainly allowed to do a 3/8" as well. either will work fine!


now, for good measures, once your skirt panel is sewn to your bodice, remove that gathering stitch. i know, moan and groan, but yall this is one of those steps that i find really helpful although not seen. methods to my madness. and speaking of methods, although this seam will never be seen, i like to finish it. it gets quite bulky if not, so just run a finishing along this seam however you prefer. then, take over to the iron and press that seam up towards the bodice. this is personally one of my fave steps. there is something about seeing all those pretty gathers all lined up that makes me giddy! now, totally up to you here about top-stitching that seam. i am a top-stitcher at heart, but i chose not to in this instance. so, your choice! now, repeat all of those steps with your other bodice and skirt.


 time to turn our attention to the beautiful piece of trim that goes around the bodice. oh i swoon! on the dress the trim is only on the bodice portion. however, i found on the coat since the front panel opens that it would be fantabulous to make it extend all the way to the bottom. so, measure one of the finished coats from the bottom of the skirt portion, up along the curved bodice, around the neck and down the other front bodice as shown by the dotted line below.


now, reference page 9 in the pattern tutorial for further instruction on your trim. since this coat is reversible, the trim you choose will show on both sides. because of this, i decided to use a piece of cream knit to ruffle. since knit wont fray, i left the edge raw and it gives a nice, soft detail to the coat. plus, it was easy. let's be honest here. ;) since i am ruffling my trim, i took my measurement from above and multiplied it by 1.5 just as in the pattern. thankfully i was lucky enough that it fell into the fabric width of my knit so i just cut a long strip that was about 1" (since it is knit, there is no need for me to fold over lengthwise as shown with a woven in the pattern) wide and then ran a gathering stitch along the edge. i didn't go into much detail here because it is all laid out in the pattern and i didn't want to be too redundant.


now, you can start your trim either at the bottom of the skirt or at the top of your squared bodice (what i chose), but make sure to taper your trim just as i discussed on page 10. see below how i taper it off just a bit? this is important in reducing the bulk of your seams.

note - i added this later as i woke in the middle of the night afraid that someone may put the trim on the wrong part of the bodice. the trim goes on the front bodice piece that has the curved edge. okay, back to bed.


tapering along the bottom skirt edge as well.


 pin that trim in place and then baste to your coat panel with a 1/4" seam allowance so it stays in place but we wont have to worry about that seam being exposed later. :)

if you want to do button tabs, now is the time to do so. reference page 22 in the pattern tutorial and follow the same steps. however, since we will sew the 2 coat panels together, go ahead and sew your buttons to the tabs (page 29) now since it is crazy easier to go ahead and do so before we get it all stitched up. trust me said the girl who didn't.

okay ladies - enough work for today. but if you are like me you are like, "NO lady! let's keep going!!" i am not a fan of interrupted time in my sewing room. i am also the mother of young children, so we all know how well that works. haha. 

tomorrow we are going to come back and actually finish up our coats! i cannot WAIT to see what you ladies have cooking in your sewing rooms - share some pics on the brownie-goose lovers page! also, if you get stuck - holler on this page as we can hopefully all help each other out.

off to bed i go. sooooo sleepy!

xoxo - amy