It snowed in Connecticut this week and the highways were closed. A perfect day to finish some sewing projects! I finished a Washi XP and a Cleo Skirt.The Washi XP is an expansion pack that enables you to make more versions of the Made By Rae Washi Pattern. It gives you many options for customizing your dress. I made the sleeveless version with a big bow. I had cut this dress out last summer when I wanted to use the fabric to bind this baby quilt and had to cut the dress out first to make sure I had enough left for the binding. And then it sat as WIPs tend to do. The Cleo Skirt below was planned from the minute Rae announced that she would be releasing a skirt pattern. I bought this Fringe fabric when I saw the great skirts that April made in both a child and adult version. But while I waited for the skirt pattern to be released (and it was worth the wait) I thought about how great this fabric would be for a pair of Luna Pants (which I sewed last summer) and I ended up buying more for the skirt. I am not sorry.Because this is quilting cotton, it is a bit poofier than say, voile or double gauze. But I have decided to embrace the poof. I love this skirt!It is great right now with boots and tights and it is going to be great this summer with a black tank top. Or this blue Gemma I made last summer that goes with everything. I used another fabric from April Rhodes as a hem facing.I used 3 inch strips. I find this is easier and gives me a nicer finish than a traditional hem. It is also more fun.Dress hanging on the front door before hemming and before I sewed the waistband down on the inside of the front waist. I hand sewed the front part because stitching in the ditch with all those gathers made me a bit nervous. Hand sewing was fast and I was happy with the results.This was a quick sew and the quilting cotton was really easy to work with. Next up, I have versions planned in voile. Pocket in process below. Rae’s instructions are really clear.Next up was the WashiXP. This is not much more work than the regular Washi. I love this fabric from Cotton and Steel. It is quilting cotton but a bit heavier in feel and it drapes really nicely. I have made several dresses with Cotton and Steel quilting cotton that I wear all winter with leggings and a sweater. In this version, the front bodice is in two pieces that are then sewn together to enable you to attach the ties for the bow.This fabric was also really easy to work with, a great thing for the first time you sew a pattern. I also have some Cotton and Steel rayon that I have planned for this pattern but I wanted to sew it first using a fabric that would cooperate.Again the step by step directions are easy to follow.This version of the Washi uses elastic with a casing instead of shirring with elastic thread although you could do either. I ended up machine basting the casing from the wrong side so I could be sure to line it up correctly and then used the basting stitches to guide me when I sewed it in place from the right side. This worked really well for me and was pretty quick.I hand basted the last part of the collar sewing where you sew in the ditch from the right side of the fabric. This kept the collar in place and enabled me to iron it well before sewing so I got a nice result.Here is the dress before I sewed the bias binding on to the armholes. The fit is spot on and I love the bow. Selfie arms below.I decided to use some of the last of my Cotton and Steel floral lawn for the armholes. I love this fabric. One of my favorites. I have a sleeveless Beatrix Blouse cut out of this ready to sew for summer. I need another snowday!It makes the binding so much more enjoyable when you love the fabric. I love the pops of color.Especially the mustard and olive green.I like to turn my binding under so just a hint of the binding fabric shows. I spent a lot of time sewing bias binding last summer when I sewed many Gemma tanks and this is my favorite binding method.Inside of dress below with collar.Finished dress in hallway picture (front door pictures don’t work in blizzards.)Inside view. I didn’t have enough of the floral for the hem so I used a Cotton and Steel lawn in a pink color that harmonizes with the floral.And as worn. Yes it was cold but worth it for the photo. These are both great patterns and I have many more versions planned for spring which is supposed to be here in just five days!
I sewed a lot of garments in 2016, close to 40-I have lost track of the actual total. Most of them were for me, some were for others. When I looked back over the year, I found that although I sewed many garments, I actually made several versions each of seven favorite patterns: the Pearl Shift pattern from Green Bee Patterns and six patterns from Made by Rae: the Washi Dress, the Beatrix Blouse, and the Ruby Blouse which I had made before and the Luna Pants pattern , the Isla knit dress pattern and the Gemma Tank which were new to me in 2016. The newer patterns are from a line that Rae calls Presto patterns. They are less expensive and simpler to sew, which is probably why I was able to sew so many! Here are a couple of pictures of some of my makes with links to the patterns and my blog posts about things I learned while making them. I tend to make things in multiples because it is not much more work to cut out two versions than to cut out one.
The Washi Dress by Made By Rae, which I made for myself three times: two versions had sleeves and two versions were in double gauze. I also made a version with polka dots for my sister and a paisley version for my mother. The double gauze, while a bit tricky to work with, makes a wonderful winter version of the Washi. I have my eye out for another double gauze to make another long sleeved version of the Washi. I wear my charm version all the time.I have two more Washi dresses cut out that I plan to finish soon. One is the Washi XP with a bow. I cut them out last summer before Gemma Madness took over my sewing life. Finishing my WIPs will be a priority for me this winter.I am excited to see how the XP version turns out. I think it will be perfect with a sweater and tights and boots for winter. I cut this out way back in the spring when I made a baby quilt for a friend and used this for the binding.
I also sewed several new versions of the Beatrix blouse and modified a shift dress pattern by adding Beatrix sleeves.I lengthened the Beatrix to a tunic length using the Pearl Shift pattern as my guide and made this Cookie Book version with a curved hem and this Alison Glass version with an exposed zipper and a straight hem. I wear them all the time with leggings and jeans.
I made the Pearl Shift four times: two in heavy cotton flannel and one each in a cotton-linen blend and in a black and white checked fabric. I have two more cut out and ready to sew, one for my daughter and another plaid flannel version for me. The original plaid Pearl that I made a year ago in the fall is probably my most worn garment ever.
I surprised myself this year by making pants! I highly recommend the Luna Pants pattern from Made By Rae. I made this clay colored version and this Fringe version, both with fabric by April Rhodes. I lived in them all summer. I was surprised at how flattering they ended up being and they are incredibly comfortable.
I made three versions of the Ruby Pattern this summer, a plum colored double gauze blouse for me, a double gauze blouse with a yoke made of quilting cotton for a friend and a dress which I love in April Rhodes fabric. I just love her designs for garments.I have several other versions of the Ruby blouse cut out and ready to sew. Sew all the WIPs is going to be my resolution for 2017!
I learned a bit about how to sew knits on a regular sewing machine and made one each of the dress and top versions of the Isla Pattern. I have several more cut out and ready for an afternoon when I can sew them up. I highly recommend this pattern for those of you who are new to sewing knits.
The pattern I sewed the most though turned out to be the Gemma Tank. Rae launched this pattern over the summer and once she did, all my other WIPs went by the wayside. I literally have things I cut out to sew back in July that never got sewn because I was too busy sewing so many versions of the Gemma. I lined it, I lengthened it, I sewed it for my kids, I sewed many versions for myself. I sewed it out of thrifted men’s shirts and I learned a lot about bias binding. It was a lot of fun, a bit crazy but a great way to experiment with different fabrics. I am wearing them all the time. It has become a great layering piece for me. These are actually not even all of the Gemmas I made. Craziness!Other non-garment items I sewed this year were this quilt for a much awaited new baby boy-so much fun! and an afghan for my mother in law made from thrift shop sweaters. I also was privileged to be a pattern tester for the first time for this great skirt pattern which will be launched in the new year. I have fabric picked out and ready to go. It is going to be a great new basic to add to my rotation.
Highlights of my sewing year included Me Made May-which is always fun and which brings so much inspiration from other sewers and a couple of mini-breaks (long weekends,) one in Maine and one at home and a micro-mini break (afternoon) that I spent exploring my old neighborhood. I also read a lot this year and tried very hard to stick to my 2016 New Year’s resolution to commit one day a week to being unplugged. That worked for about half the year and then life got busy and I ended up having to spend time each Sunday in the office. But I tried to spend at least some of each Sunday unplugged from media, reading, taking walks,, going to church regularly and doing yoga. These are things I hope to find more time for in the New Year.
With best wishes to all for a happy and healthy New Year and time and energy to finish the sewing projects (I know that I can’t cut out one more thing until I sew through the pile I have accumulated of cut out projects, ) and thanks to all for following along with my sewing adventures!
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Most of the Made By Rae Gemma Tanks I have been making over the last several weeks have been from fabrics in my stash. I have had a great time trying this pattern with many different types of fabrics as you can see in my previous posts. This fabric, however, I purchased with this pattern and the Pearl Shift in mind. I cut both out last week and today, I had time to finish binding the Gemma in this black and white Checkers fabric by Cotton and Steel. It is a woven, medium weight cotton. I decided to use the large check print since I thought it would be a great basic to layer with different colored sweaters. I cut between the medium and small lines on the pattern and added an inch in length.I did add a bit of extra seam allowance because I planned to finish the edges using my variation of the french binding technique.I used scraps of the white cotton batiste fabric that I used for the lining of my Gemma dress to bind this tank. The armhole binding below.I bound the seam of the hem the same way.The inside of the hem binding.Finished tank on the front door.Back of blouse.Porch pictures courtesy of my daughter. Front.Side.Back.Ready for Halloween with a cardigan.Side. view. Great pattern + great fabric! This is going to get a lot of wear.
I have written several posts about the Gemma Tank so this will just be pictures with details/links at the end of the post. Once again, when you have fabric this beautiful and a pattern you love, the rest is easy.
Garment Fabric: Macrame by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cotton and Steel in cotton lawn in color Midnight purchased at Fabric.com
Binding Fabric: Cotton and Steel Lawn in Petal purchased at Hawthorne Threads
Size: I cut between the M and S lines and added an inch to the length
Binding width: 1.25 inches
Binding Method: see here
Previous Gemma posts: many
Gemma WIPs: many
Total number of Gemmas completed and in-process: I’m not telling but we will have a celebration when I #finishallthegemmas
This fabric + this pattern = totally awesome.I bought this beautiful woven fabric from the Loominous line by Anna Maria Horner last year to make something for my daughter. She has always loved pink and I knew she would love it and so when the line first came out I bought a couple of yards. It is called Big Love, obviously. (insert heart shaped emoji)I originally planned to make a dress for her but when Rae came out with the Gemma pattern, I knew this fabric would be perfect. This is the higher neck version of the Gemma in a size Medium without any modifications. I had sent Sarah a couple of muslins prior to cutting into the fabric to be sure of the fit. My front door is my new favorite place for pictures.I started this project earlier in the summer (along with several other Gemmas) when I had a couple of days off from work. The thing about this pattern is that the initial sewing goes very quickly and then there is the bias binding which is not terrible but somewhat of a challenge for me. So now I am finishing these projects one by one and today I had time to finish this.I used the method I describe in this post. It worked relatively well although the woven fabric has a bit of give to it and I wasn’t as successful in getting an even binding as I was when I used the quilting cotton. But I wanted the contrast of the visible binding and I thought Sarah would prefer to have a bit more width in the shoulder since she is a teacher and has to wear clothes that aren’t overly revealing.When I uploaded the photos from my phone, I did them in the reverse order that I intended so you are sort of getting a backward looking glance at the binding process, but you get the idea. Back of the finished tank on my front door below. It gets the best light for pictures.In addition to the details of the other binding method that I use explained in this post and which I used for the hem of this Gemma below, Rae has three fabulous binding tutorials that clearly illustrate several different approaches to the right way to do it here. I highly recommend them. #beforethebinding picture below.I have several other Gemmas with pink either in the main fabric or as the planned binding and will be sharing them over the next few weeks as I find time to #finishallthegemmas.So this one will be in the mail tomorrow on its way to the Midwest. Hopefully it is still warm enough for it to get wear this season. Who needs Stitchfix when you have Stitchmom? (just kidding, Stitchfix is awesome too!) You can link to my previous posts about the Gemma Tank here, here and here.
Last winter my husband and I spent a bit of time in our local Goodwill Thrift stores buying old sweaters for an afghan project for my stepdaughters which you can see in this post and I came across a plaid men’s oxford shirt in great shape. I liked the colors and thought it would be good for binding or facings and then it sat on my shelf until about a month ago when I discovered the Gemma Tank pattern by Made By Rae and embarked on a month-long tank-making frenzy that continues to this day. When I saw this linen version by Rae’s cousin Jess, I thought I would use some leftover woven cotton that has a linen-y look to it (previously purchased at Joanne’s for a Bianca dress that I wear all the time) and use the plaid for the bias binding. But then I realized that I probably had enough of the plaid to make it into its own Gemma, so that is what I did (before binding below).Simultaneously, almost, I cut out the blue woven material to make that version of the Gemma. Although I had planned to use the plaid shirt above to bind the blue Gemma below and some of the blue scraps to bind the plaid, I ended up with another plaid shirt in the mix.
My husband saw how much fun I was having repurposing the Goodwill plaid shirt and gave me one of his from his closet that didn’t fit him. And I liked how it went with the blue as you can see below. I ended up using a lighter blue chambray to bind shirt number one (are you confused yet?) only because I had it leftover from binding my Wood Cut Gemma seen in this post and the extra was on my sewing table and I happened to notice how nicely it went with the plaid-serendipity.My husband’s shirt below (this is the before picture.) Who knew he had such a treasure hidden among the white and blue oxford shirts? Great quality and a perfect match.I had both these tanks sewn up and had started the binding several weeks ago but then I set them aside to make some birthday tanks for my stepdaughters (twins) which I will blog about some day. (so cute-both the girls and the shirts)
So in the process of making these shirts, and although I still have quite a few that still need binding, I have had some successes and some not-so-successful results. I previously blogged about my version of the traditional binding that ends up looking like a topstitched binding. But the binding I like best is the version I used for these plaid/chambray Gemmas and for my Wood Cut Gemma and the girls’ Octopus Gemmas seen below.
It resembles the french binding technique that Rae explains (all three of her binding tutorials are terrific) but since I just made it up as I went along, I found that I am doing something different than she teaches (I made these Gemmas before the binding tutorials were available) so I am sharing my approach in case it is helpful to others. First, I usually cut my binding strips 1.5 inches wide, although I believe the light blue chambray below is 1.25. I sew it with right sides together (a mistake I have made repeatedly as I make the Gemmas is to sew the binding to the inside instead of the outside). I don’t pin. I use the presser foot as a guide and I end up with a seam allowance that is between 1/4 and 3/8 of an inch. I initially tried the method of overlapping the ends that Rae describes in her pattern but I was not happy with the results so I leave a tail when I start sewing so I can stop a couple inches before the end and sew the ends together. Rae shows how to do this in her french binding tutorial. By the way, when I make binding tape, I just join the pieces using straight edges, I don’t cut the 45 degree angles that the tutorials recommend. I don’t find that there is enough bulk to bother me and it is quicker. Sacrilege I know.As you can see above, I don’t iron the fold into the binding tape prior to sewing it to the garment, which is different than the tutorials. After sewing the seam, I gently press the seam and then press from the wrong side of the garment and fold the binding tape inward so the edge meets the stitching line. I will show more pictures of this below. Then I iron and then I fold again using the seam where the shirt edge meets the binding and so I have a sort of tri-fold sandwich. Then I use wonder clips to hold it in place. I try to make the width of the folded fabric even.Then I flip the garment right side out and check to make sure that the fold is even and sometimes I iron a bit but I don’t go crazy ironing if it is a neckline or arm hole so as not to stretch the curve out. Then I sew from the right side, which is the opposite of the french technique Rae explains where she sews from the inside. I do this because I like the look of the stitches and I want them to be as pretty as possible and I find that my stitches are not as pretty on the underside. I also do it because I usually like to shift the fabric fold just enough to create a bit of a an edge that ends up looking like piping. I learned to do this by mistake when I made a black lined washi dress for myself. I then did it on purpose when I made a similar dress for my sister. It is an easy thing to do and I am really happy with the little extra zing it gives the garment. This is what it looks like below. I basically hold the fabric fold and feed it into the machine so I have a sense of where the thickness is to be able to catch the whole fold and have a relatively even width between the stitching line and the edge of the garment. I don’t always have exactly the same amount of contrasting material-fake piping showing but I think it ends up looking fine.In terms of my approach to upcycling, I did the opposite from my approach to my upcycled Beatrix shirt where I used the back for the front and the front for the back. In this case, I pieced the front from the two sides of the front of the oxford shirt and cut the Gemma back from the shirt back. I had to do this because of the size of the back pattern piece and the logo which was on the front of the shirt, seen below. Luckily there was no pocket to contend with but there was the polo player who ended up in just about the right spot. I really like the contrasting blue edge around the neck and arms.Back of shirt below. I cut the back from the back of the shirt. I needed the big piece because the Gemma tank neckline in back goes up high. I wouldn’t have had enough to piece it. Also the polo player.I did the binding for the chambray-like tank the same way. I cut 1.5 inch strips and followed exactly the steps as above except that I didn’t shift the fabric as much. In this case, I was ok with some of the plaid poking out but I wasn’t going for the look of an edge all the way around the seams since I wanted the tank to be a neutral piece I could layer with many colors. I felt a little bad about cutting into such a nice shirt but it wasn’t being worn. It is a really thin, fine dress shirt cotton poplin and was really easy to work with. I have plenty left over for more projects.Same steps.After sewing the first seam with the binding ironed up (this is the outside of the shirt) before turning garment inside out to make the fabric sandwich.Finished neckline below with binding sewn in place.Both versions.Another view so you can see the blue edging.Applying binding to the hem. You can see how the front seam doesn’t line up exactly in terms of plaid matching but it is pretty close.Another view of how I line up the edge with the seam when making the binding sandwich.So many pictures (I went a little crazy).I ended up sewing a couple of lines of stitching when I joined the front pieces in an attempt to better match the plaid. Not the neatest but this is going to be a hang out on the weekend Gemma so I wasn’t a perfectionist.More pictures showing the front seam (wonder clips are a good investment btw.)More binding close ups.Front door pictures of finished shirts.Sadly I cut a small bit of the fabric with my rotary cutter by mistake in my haste when I cut out the front. You can see a little repair I did under the arm hole with some interfacing and some zigzagging. It isn’t really noticeable when being worn.And as worn. Thanks to my daughter the photographer. Front view. Both of these are cut between the medium and small line on the pattern using the scoop neck. Perfect with jeans.Side view and back view.And version 2. Pretty good for upcycling right? Run, do not walk, to your local Goodwill.Side view.Back view.Love these shirts and love this pattern!
The first Gemma Tank I made was this one. Pictures of it as worn by me here. I cut a Medium with the higher neck option, although I shaved a small bit off the front of the neck. You can see approximately how much I took off below although the picture below is a different Gemma (made the same way). I just slid the pattern down and cut a bit lower using the same curve so that the edge would be below the collarbones.I also lengthened it by approximately two inches. I mostly followed the directions for the bias binding using the traditional method with two changes: I cut my bias strips 1.5 inches instead of 1.25 since I sometimes find I don’t catch the whole edge with the narrower strip and I sewed from the front side on the edge of the binding rather than in the ditch. I find I can line things up better that way and I like the look of the stitching. You can see the position of the needle below. When I initially sew the binding to the edge, I use my presser foot as a visual seam guide and it is about 3/8 inch so my whole binding ends up being a bit wider. I used this beautiful cream colored Art Gallery quilting cotton by April Rhodes. I love this line and had previously made a Washi Dress with the same fabric in the green colorway, seen below.I was so happy with the feel of the fabric-it is soft and works beautifully for sewing garments. It is more like a lawn than quilting cotton. In fact, I bought another 3 yards of the green as a back up plan. I have done that only a few times but I was so happy with my Washi that I wanted to have extra to be able to make it again when I wear it out which I will since I wear it all the time. I often make little changes as I sew and then forget what I changed (I do the same thing when I cook) so I have learned to take pictures. I actually had to look at my picture below to remember that my bias strips were 1.5 inches. I don’t pin before I sew, I just hold the edges together and it generally works pretty well. Then I iron the stitching line and press the edge to the other side and use wonder clips to hold the bias binding in place before I sew the second seam which, as seen below in the finished version, is just to the inside of the ditch. It actually looks like it was sewn on the inside and flipped to the front using the topstitch method, the way Rae shows you here in this great tutorial. Fellow blogger Teri used this method beautifully when she made this great checked Gemma. I am not sure if I would find the topstitch method easier than what I currently do because I have never tried it but I am really happy with this sort of fake topstitch method I developed by mistake. I actually started doing it this way because I couldn’t sew as straight a seam in the ditch as I liked and had better results sewing just over a bit on the side of the seam. I am really happy with how it turns out when everything cooperates. The picture below was taken after several washings and I am still very happy with how this shirt turned out.I like using the wonder clips because I turn the blouse inside out and iron the binding to the wrong side and whereas I used to pin it in place on the wrong side and then flip it and have to move all the pins to the outside before sewing, the side doesn’t matter with the wonder clips and it saves a step. This is what the outside looks like before sewing the second seam.I also sewed a facing onto the hem of this Gemma using more of the binding tape. For some reason, I get a much neater hem doing this than just turning up the fabric. Although it might seem like more work, the seam line gives a visual place to turn up the edge, I iron like crazy and everything just turns out neater. I also like a slightly wider hem than the pattern calls for because I find it lies flatter and doesn’t curl up.I do a lot of ironing when I make the hems this way. I have described this in several previous blogs. I often use contrasting fabric for fun. You can see other examples here, here, here and here. Pictures of the hem facing process below.
As those of you who follow me on instagram know, I have been in the midst of sewing quite a few Gemmas. One might even call it Gemma madness. I have another binding method that I like even better that I will post about soon (also non-traditional.) Stay tuned!