Friday, January 29, 2016

How to Add Ribbon Bookmarks to Any Hardback Book

Coeliac diagnoses for most of the family last Sept/Oct has meant a lot less sewing and much more cooking and baking. Of course blogging also took a backseat.


Information on the Internet about Coeliac disease is very helpful, with lots of advice and suitable recipes. However I found I also needed to buy some new cookery & baking books as most of our food now needs to be cooked from scratch. Tearing bits of paper to mark and keep track of recipes quickly became futile as well as being very untidy. So I wanted a neater way to bookmark recipes that wouldn't fall out of a book when it was opened!


ThIs idea for adding ribbon bookmarks was one of those 'lightbulb' moments and is a perfect solution when a book doesn't include a bookmark.


What you need: book length measurement, narrow ribbons (0.5 to 0.7 cm), wide ribbon (1.5 cm), sewing machine (could also be hand sewn, or even glued)

-This method of adding ribbons to a book will work for any hardback book which has a spine.

-Measure the length of the book and add 10cm.

-Cut ribbon lengths in suitable colours. I selected 3 narrow ribbons (janemeans narrow stitched ribbon, Janemeans narrow gingham ribbon and a yellow ribbon from my stash).

Overlap the ribbons making sure they will fit neatly inside the width of the wider ribbon.



-Cut a 12cm length of 1.5 cm wide ribbon, making sure that the ribbon will fit inside the spine of the book. I chose a teal wired ribbon from Jane Means. This ribbon will be placed inside the spine of the book, so the colour will not be seen.

-Fold the wide ribbon in half lengthwise over the bundle of narrow ribbons, making sure the ends are tucked under. Sew around the ribbon as in the picture. This reinforces the ribbon and makes it easier to push into the spine of the book.

-Open the book and carefully push the sewn ribbon down into the spine.







Now just safely bookmark all the fantastic recipes that you want to try.

As a book like this can get a lot of wear and tear, the ends of the ribbons should be sealed by holding them carefully over a lighted candle.

I predict a lot more of these in my future, especially once I check my sewing books & see which need bookmarks!



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Monday, August 31, 2015

From Refashioned Men's Shirts to Children's Clothes


Sewing during summer holidays needs to be in short bursts, so refashioning fits in with what little sewing time I have. Previous shirt refashions that I've blogged are a dress & waistcoat, a sailor dress, a denim dress, waistcoat and a knit top & skirt, all children's clothes.


The inspiration for these recent remakes is The Refashioner 2015 series by Portia at the Makery blog.



I started with this shirt as I loved the fabric. This is the only shirt I've upcycled for an adult to wear!

The pattern is 'pattern k' a lovely fitted blouse from Sato Watanabe's Basic Black by Tuttle Books. I previously sewed this asymmetrical top from the book.




I removed the collar, and stitched the collar stand, so it looks like the stand-up collar in the book. I cut the sleeves off at the armhole, shortened them, reshaped the armholes and the sides and added front and back darts for shaping. It still needs hemming, but is a now a perfect shirt for Autumn.




Then I got a bit more creative. It seemed that there should be enough fabric in a shirt to sew a boys pyjamas, but I needed to find a way of avoiding buttons, so it would be comfortable to wear.





This is what worked - After cutting off the sleeves, I folded the shirt in half, half the front and half the back and turned it upside down. The pattern I used was the Oliver&S Bedtime Story Pajamas / Pyjamas pattern because it has a one-piece leg pattern. The pattern fit easily on the shirt fabric.


Cutting a shirt this way would also provide plenty fabric even for some adult-sized shorts.



The waistband was cut from the yoke, though not on a fold, so it had to be pieced.


The legs were cut from the sleeves without I picking the seam and using the lower part of the leg pattern as a guide only, to get the length correct.








I sewed the pyjamas, mostly following the pattern instructions.

The leg had to be pieced together and I didn't want that inside seam to be uncomfortable. The simple solution was to sew the seam on the outside and cover it with ribbon. The ribbon is a vintage blue stitched ribbon from janemeans, which was a perfect match for the shirt fabric.

Not a perfect pair of pyjamas by any means, but not bad for zero fabric cost and a quick sew. There's also a 10 yr old boy who loves that these were sewn especially for him!











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Monday, July 27, 2015

A Japanese Pattern Book for Beginners - Sewing For Your Girls


Sewing For Your Girls by Yoshiko Tsukiori is much more suitable for beginners than most other Japanese books that I've sewn from. It was originally published in 2011 and is one of the recent English translations by Tuttle Books.




It provides 8 basic patterns for dresses, tops and shorts with 7 variations. All patterns, except one (which is easily drafted) are included as full-sized pattern pieces in a pocket inside the back cover. The patterns are for girls, though the shorts and overalls could be sewn for boys, and the sizing is based on height - approximately equivalent to age 2 to 8 years.





This Japanese pattern book would be perfect for a beginner at sewing. As well as pictures of the clothes and instructions for all of the patterns, most of the book is devoted to photo tutorials on how to sew.


Many Japanese Pattern books are not generally suitable for beginners. They rely on detailed diagrams to illustrate sewing instructions, so include much shorter descriptions of sewing steps. The other book of adult-sized patterns by this author that I sewed from, would not be as useful for anyone beginning sewing.




The three photo-tutorial sections are

  1. Basics of Dressmaking,
  2. A detailed Step-by-Step to make one of the dress patterns and
  3. Basic Sewing Techniques.


1. The Basics of Dressmaking is very well-presented. It includes descriptions of the fabrics used in the book and emphasises the importance of prewashing. Basic equipment is described and detailed pictures on Tracing a Pattern, Cutting out Fabric, Marking Symbols and Using a Sewing Machine are also shown.

2. There is a fully illustrated, complete photo-tutorial on how to sew the first pattern in the book and it includes techniques like creating bias tape, reinforcing pocket edges, and neatly finishing the armhole and shoulder frill. Every one of the numbered steps is pictured in detail.


3. There are 33 pages of tutorials on Basic Techniques which thoroughly illustrate all the steps needed for sewing techniques to sew the patterns in the book. Everything from facings, collars, hand sewing, plackets, invisible zip, pockets and shirring are covered.



I sewed two dresses from this book. The first was a sailor dress from Applied pattern 7 where I repurposed an old shirt for the fabric.



The second dress I sewed was Basic Pattern 5. This is the only dress where a pattern has to be drafted. But it is very straightforward as it utilises 2 rectangles which are based on the child's measurement.

It is a number of years since I've used shirring and it's as easy as I remember. There is a photo tutorial on how to shirr fabric which a beginner would find very helpful.




I used ribbon for the straps as I had a perfectly matching vintage stitched janemeans ribbon, but the steps needed to create straps are also given in the book and are easy to follow.





This dress was a very easy and quick make and would be a very convenient way of using a half-metre of fabric from your stash. Before I shirred the dress, my daughter thought the fabric looked like a curtain, but that didn't bother her too much once she tried it on!



(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been happily sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)



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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How-to Sew a Zip in Faux-fur Fabric

Sewing a zip in long pile faux fur fabric is not difficult. However, figuring out how to prevent the pile (long hairs) of the fabric getting stuck in the zipper teeth, took a little longer. My solution was to sew ribbons between the zipper tape and the fabric - it worked perfectly!

The back story to this unusual 'how-to' was my daughters request for a Tribble costume (I learnt a LOT about Star Trek!). After some discussion (and my inability to figure out how the costume would work), we negotiated that a Tribble toy and a Tribble bag or backpack would do nicely.

The long pile faux-fur fabric that characterise Tribbles was difficult to find and eventually turned up at Minerva Crafts UK, which also has very reasonable postage to Ireland.

The pattern is simply an oval shape with darts in the sides to make the Tribble more 3D.

The ribbon is a stitched cotton ribbon from janemeans. The width of the ribbon is important. A 15mm width ribbon works with standard zips, any wider and the ribbon would overlap at the centre of the zip and make it difficult to open. A narrower ribbon would allow the pile to get stuck.



The steps are straightforward, except to remember that the ribbon is placed between the fabric and the zip and zipper pull must be facing down, towards the fabric.




The ribbon is sewn to both sides of the zipper.



The ribbon will cover the zipper teeth and prevent the pile of the fabric getting stuck when the zip is used.



As the backpack was quite a large size, I used two zippers so that it could be opened wide. A carrying strap was attached to cord loops sewn into the top and bottom of the bag. The addition of lining and a zippered pocket made the bag more functional.



Another successful make, seen modelled here with a ribbon dress from a Japanese pattern (similar to these) that I sewed a few years ago.



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Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Girl's Dress with Ribbon Sailor Collar

Sailor dress patterns have been on my 'to sew' list for my daughter for quite a while. Mostly I've been hoping that they would become a fashion trend. After waiting years for this trend to happen and seeing this 2014 Oscar de la Renta dress, it seems that there is a 2015 nautical Spring/Summer trend which is extending into Autumn/Winter. These mentions are good enought for me!

The pattern I used for the dress is from a newly released English translation of Japanese sewing patterns from Tuttle Books. 'Sewing for your Girls'. I intended sewing this pattern for a review of the book, but took a few too many shortcuts and didn't follow the pattern exactly. I also sewed a second dress and will review the book in my next post.





The pattern pieces were cut from a second-hand man's shirt, and I included the centre front button bands from the shirt as the dress opening. This is very different from what the pattern suggests, but made it so much quicker to sew the dress....... and I didn't have to sew buttons or buttonholes!


The sailor collar pattern pieces (undercollar and main collar pieces) were cut from the sleeves.

The details are my favourite parts of this dress. Sailor stripes are usually created by sewing rows of a contrasting colour. Any of the striped and stitched ribbons at Jane Means would make an excellent choice for a collar like this. I chose a purple stitched janemeans ribbon which created the illusion of stripes. I mitred the ribbon at the corners for neatness, and used Liberty of London bias binding for the neckline and armholes instead of the facings in the pattern.


My daughter found these pom-poms and appliqué in my stash, so we added them and a purple ric-ric hem to complete the dress.



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Monday, May 25, 2015

Sewing Swimwear, without clear elastic

This orange Lycra fabric was a remnant that my daughter picked when we visited Dublin last October. As she has just started swimming classes in school, it was the perfect time to sew a new swimsuit.



The design process was a lot of fun. She wanted a swimming costume with a skirt and then thought for a while about which TV/book/film character who wore/was orange. She came up with 'Applejack' from My Little Pony. The most distinguishing part of any of the ponies is their 'cutie mark' so the three apples were appliqued to the skirt. The rosette isn't part of the character, but was created to continue the pony theme.

I am not confident sewing with stretch fabric and even less so with Lycra fabric. I used a small-sized ballpoint needle to prevent holes in the fabric. When I realised that there was no clear elastic in my stash I almost didn't sew this. A quick internet search led me to an excellent tip on Patternreview. In fact It includes more than one tip.
  • It describes how to sew swimwear with regular elastic.
  • It describes where to stretch the elastic for a better fit.
  • It describes where to zig-zag on the elastic so that the edge of the fabric covers the edge of the elastic (Read the comments on the tip).
  • It also describes how to use a regular straight stitch on the outside.
Following these tips made sewing the elastic in the arms, neckline and leg openings very straightforward and much easier than the last time I tried. It has made me much more confident in sewing swimwear.



Though it's very acceptable to use a zig-zag stitch on swimwear, I much prefer how the straight stitching looks on the outside, and I was surprised how much it stretched with the fabric.










The pattern is adapted from Ottobre 3/2011 no30 and the skirt was drafted using the hip circumference measurement and sewn with a stretch stitch.

This swimsuit sewed up so quickly that we're already planning more 'My Little Pony' versions. However sourcing swimwear fabric in Ireland is not at all easy. Any Lycra fabric available is mostly marketed as dancewear or for costumes. We'll be crossing our fingers that it won't disintegrate in chlorine!!






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Thursday, May 14, 2015

She Wears The Pants - A Sewing Pattern Book Review

A more unusual Japanese pattern book has just been translated into English and published by Tuttle Books. 'She Wears the Pants' is a take on what has been called boyfriend style clothes.


It was originally published in 2010 with the Japanese title which translated as 'She Has a Mannish Style'. Despite being published 5 years ago, the patterns have a very current look, with a few classics also included.







There are 20 varied patterns in this pattern book, including 7 blouses/tops, 4 jackets/coats/cardigan, 4 trousers/culottes, 2 dresses, one skirt and 2 accessories stole/long collar.


Some of the patterns, like the draped mini dress and the square top, follow the typical loose-fitting style of Japanese patterns. However, more fitted styles such as the tapered trousers and culottes above are also included.

The sizing is in the range from XS to L. XS corresponds approximately to US size 6, and size L corresponds to US size 14. Because the sizes are nested on the pattern sheets, it would be easy to size up one or two sizes while tracing a pattern.

This book also has an excellent centre section with pictures and tips on sewing with different types of fabrics and how to finish seams on different fabrics

As with many Japanese Pattern books, all the patterns are included on pull-out sheets in a pocket inside the back cover and patterns must be traced from these sheets.

Instructions for sewing up each pattern are listed in numbered steps, with numbers linked to those on the corresponding diagrams. Sometimes a particular step is described and illustrated only for an earlier pattern, but usually the page number is given if a step from a different pattern needs to be used.

Seam allowances are not included, but the fabric layout diagrams show the exact allowance that is needed for each pattern piece.


Some of the styles in the book would not suit my shape as I need my clothes to be a little fitted above my waist. Other styles are a little too 'edgy' for my taste. However what I found most impressive about this book was the inclusion of classic shirt and jacket patterns.

The fleece and striped long jackets as well as the dotted blouse are classic styles and include details like welt pockets, bound buttonholes, sleeve plackets and collar and under collar, which are thoroughly illustrated with clear detailed diagrams.

What make me love this book is the diagram on 'bagging a jacket'. This sewing technique is generally difficult to describe in words, and also difficult to demonstrate and photograph with an actual jacket, but this book provides a detailed, numbered line-drawing. I have quite a collection of Japanese language pattern books and English translations, and this is the first I noticed with this type of jacket diagram.

The pattern I had planned on sewing from this book is this draped mini dress, but life got in the way a little, so instead I chose to use part of another pattern.




My son wanted a costume for Cork Comic Expo which was held a few weeks ago in a local shopping centre, Mahon Point. The costume was a black cape and hat for 'V for Vendetta'. I had to draft the hat myself, but used a vintage pattern for the cape. However, the Cape pattern didn't include a collar, so I needed a well-designed curved collar pattern which would stand up well. I found No.18 Dotted Blouse had exactly what I needed and traced the collar and collar stand. The only change I needed to make was to increase the size of the lapels to provide the look that my son wanted.

(Pic source: Facebook Mahon Point)


I think he got the look!




(Tuttle Publishing sent me this pattern book free. All opinions are my own. I have been successfully sewing from Japanese language pattern books since 2009)














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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Burda knit dress & using tiny ribbon pieces

All parents of school-going children should be prepared for the 'colour' days that happen in schools which are often for fundraising. There are red days to support county teams, blue days for autisim awareness, green days for our national Saint and last week we had a yellow day for cancer support. I don't normally sew for each colour day, but this time I was glad of the excuse to take a break from communion dress sewing.

This girls dress is from the current issue of Burdastyle magazine 4/15 no.136. Every month there are a few children's patterns in the magazine and I have always liked their sizing and fit. This dress was no different. I graded up a size to 134, just to allow for some growing room, but the dress would have still fit well.




It's an interesting design, with the neck facing applied to the outside. It is also clearly well-designed as the facing fit beautifully and I love how neatly the shoulder seams align. This would be straightforward on a woven fabric, but usually much more difficult on a knit fabric.

Though I used a stable knit fabric (not very stretchy) I didn't want the shoulders to get stretched with wear. The best way to do this is to stabilise the shoulder seams with interfacing which is hidden. I took a different approach by choosing to make the stabiliser more obvious and picked some janemeans stitched ribbon.

The green stitched ribbon is placed under the shoulder seam while it is being sewn, and a second line of stitching is sewn along the ribbon and seam edge. Once the ribbon and seam are pressed it forms a neat finish to the seam as well as preventing the shoulder seam from stretching and sagging. Of course this is also a perfect way to use those tiny pieces of beautiful ribbon leftover from bigger projects.


I altered the pattern by not including a back opening, and not adding neckline and pocket piping. The instructions recommended sewing the side seams and then inserting the sleeves but it was much quicker to sew each sleeve to it's armhole and the sew each sleeve seam and side seam all at once.


I just had a day to sew the dress so unusually didn't consult my daughter on the fabric and the pattern, but she was thrilled to have a yellow dress and got very involved (obviously, I suppose!) in picking out the fringe and neckline trims.


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