Gift Pillow

detail of knife edge pillowA guest room at my brother’s home has rust brown color sheets, so I decided on these colors for a simple pillow. I’m happy with the result, which is neither country cute nor too modern. I first had in mind a cover for a travel pillow that was resting on the bed. Silly me, I thought all travel pillows were the same size! So this square pillow is the result instead. It’s on its way in the mail, and I hope it will be enjoyed.

I used a “knife edge” technique that makes the corners tuck in instead of sticking out — with no stuffing to give them definition. The photo below shows the detail, and it’s easy to do. Wrong side out, select a short distance in from the corners. One-half inch might do, or one inch. Draw a dot or an “X” using chalk or a disappearing fabric marker. Then use a large dinner plate or some other round flat object to taper a line towards both edges. Those lines, along with a regular seam allowance, are the lines you’ll stitch along. Proceed with trimming and turning inside out as usual.

When this type of pillow is turned to the right side and filled, the corners have a nice shape — worthy of gift giving. Of course there are many other pillow creation techniques, but it’s the one I chose for this pillow. And with that, I say “Happy Holidays”!



soundstitches sewing blog gift pillow


Could You Be Loved?

2012_Blog_Simplicity3669While photographing my next holiday gift, I had in mind the Bob Marley song, “Could You Be Loved?” The last two winters my daughter wore bright pink collared pajamas with kitties on them, and she was disappointed to learn that they no longer fit her this fall. Very disappointed (which I found surprising because she no longer likes pink). So off I go to locate kitty pajamas. Found some, from Hadley’s. They make cute but pricey organic cotton pajamas and my mom offered to spring for them as an additional gift. But they fit very small, and my girl doesn’t do close-fitting clothing. (I hope this means less of a struggle when she’s a teen!) So they went back, and she has been wearing a pair of fleece pants with a peace sign print that my parents also gave her. She has worn those every day since Thanksgiving. (I’m not sure how many times they’ve been washed, to be honest.) A child needs a second pair of pajamas, don’t you think?

Found this cute fabric with raccoons, mice, and some other creature I can’t identify (we’ll see if you can, next post). The fabric is lofty cotton flannel from Pacific Fabrics and pattern is Simplicity 3669. I’m holding my breath because the other thing about this girl is that she no longer wears most of what I make for her. I gave up earlier this year — sort of.  This summer I made corduroy capri pants with side pockets she really likes. Here’s my reasoning this time: pajamas are just pants + collared shirt.

I did two things differently this time around: 1. I used my serger more and 2. I skipped interfacing the collar and the entire facing. GASP! I’ve never skipped steps before. I wanted to know whether Peggy Sagers had a valid time-saver. She says that production houses don’t interface simple blouses. I’m still not sure that’s true — I don’t know that I’ve ever bought a blouse without some kind of interfacing. So I only interfaced a strip where the button holes would go, and they came out beautifully. (Love automatic buttonholes!)

Join me for the reaction!

Happy Holidays

I made three presents this year — one each for my mom, daughter and husband. I also helped out with some felt holiday ornaments made for relatives. The pants I made my husband are a mouse gray fleece and didn’t photograph well. They’re made from a new fleece from Pacific Fabrics. I’m hopeful these will wear better, look more like something expensive from REI or a catalog, and form fewer pill-balls than the standard fleece that eventually looks like everyone wearing it is a Muppet creature.

The vest I made my mom was a hit. Mom says she wore it to a potluck event for the Coast Guard auxiliary where my dad volunteers. I hope she’ll find other places to wear this very unique fleece fabric with a woodland scene. I enjoyed lining it with a bright red poly woven that I’ve had in my stash, and giving it a mobile-phone pocket, neither of which features were called for in the KwikSew 3086 pattern (out of print, but similar to Kwik Sew 3172.

SoundStitches sewing blog copyright 2012

Soon I’ll post about the pajamas for my daughter — after they’re opened, that is. What have you sewn or made for the people in your lives? I love to hear about projects. In the meantime, happy holidays!

Workout Wear Wins Kudos

Sweatpants at Lands' End catalog
Save money and sew something even better

My most recent project isn’t exotic, but I’m proud of it nonetheless. Recently my husband rejoined a gym, and wanted new sweatpants. Instead of buying the Lands’ End pants you see pictured here for US$29.50 plus shipping, I made sweatpants. I purchased navy 100% cotton sweatshirt knit fabric at Pacific Fabrics for about US$16.00. I used Simplicity 9505, my trusty pajama/comfy pants pattern.

Imagine the kudos you’d get for making pants for almost every adult in your family. Imagine the “She’s so creative!” And  no catalog shipping costs!

I should note that Simplicity 9505 is for wovens, and for women’s woven pants. Neither seems to matter. Just copy the largest size you’ll ever need before you begin, and you could only need to buy one pattern. Most sewers acknowledge that sewing doesn’t necessarily save them money. On the other hand, there’s no need to spend money (plus shipping!) for basics such as sleepwear and activewear. These are items that don’t need to be fitted — unless you’re like some of the yoga moms I’ve seen on the playground! We need sleepwear and activewear to be comfortable and non-binding. Sewing pants is one project in which you can save money, succeed at sewing and get kudos too!

Sweatpants SoundStitches blog
Not as well photographed but well made!

Pacific Fabrics Store Closing

Pacific Fabrics PuyallupIt’s sad to hear that the Puyallup Pacific Fabrics store will be closing. They were known for their SewExpo-related events after the regular show day had closed. And I’m sure it will be a loss to sewers in that area. The upside is the sale going on at that location now. Below are details from the Pacific Fabrics blog. They especially seem to have some great deals on patterns which normally aren’t discounted at all. Another good piece of news is Pacific Fabrics’ warehouse-style store near the Seattle stadiums is converting to a half warehouse, half regular retail store. I’m looking forward to that!

Something Fitted, Something New

Nancy Siefert, Palmer-Pletsch Instructor
Nancy Siefert

I haven’t got a slew of pictures from the results of my second fitting class this weekend (thanks to a dead cell phone battery), but I did take away a lot of techniques from “A Classic Shirt That Fits.” At this Pacific Fabrics class, Palmer/Pletsch-certified instructor Nancy Seifert helped us fit slopers, tissue patterns, and the ultimate shirt in our chosen fabrics.  She oughta know — she said she has been to Portland, Oregon for one Palmer-Pletsch class or another at least 13 times!

In spite of the sound of the foam knife making umpteen cuts at the nearby cutting counter, we were a quiet, studious bunch at our second class session, since it was our last with the “expert.” Occasionally we popped up from our machines to show Nancy what we’d done and to make sure of the next step. I had managed to sew one bust dart in the wrong place which was easily corrected. But, it took us until the end of the class to realize that the 5/8ths of an inch we had taken out of my front pattern tissue also had to be removed from the sleeve. I kept WONDERING how I was going to squeeze all of that sleeve ease into the armhole! So I still have work to do. But I accomplished another goal: To see what the other common fitting issues are for today’s ladies so that I can make basic recommendations to my sewing students.
Sewing can be a lonely venture. I highly recommend getting out there and taking a class every once in a while. (Thanks, Claire, for sending the photo!)

Learn Something New

Fit for Real People Book

It’s hard to imagine that standing around and saying “aah, I see” would result in any learning, but this weekend I was doing just that with four other ladies at a fitting class.
Nancy Siefert is a Palmer/Pletsch certified teacher, and she held a shirt fitting class at a local fabric store. So this post is about my day as a pattern fitting student, and I hope to pass on some useful fitting pointers. If you’ve made lovely garments but they don’t fit, I think you’ll learn something new too.
There were five ladies total, and this was the first of two sessions. Nancy first measured us. I knew that to establish your pattern size, you should measure at the “high bust” — that is, not the full measurement of your bust.  So in front, the measuring tape should fall below your armpits. So many new sewers make this mistake, so I’ll say it again: To determine which pattern size to cut out, measure under your armpits and ignore how full (or flat!) your bust is. In back, I was surprised to learn that the measuring tape should be placed at the bottom of your brassiere strap. So the measuring tape will lie a little lower in the back. From this measurement, find the back-of-the-pattern measurement that closely resembles yours and choose the corresponding pattern size.  If you’re in between sizes, it usually best to size down. The number WILL BE higher than your ready-t0-wear size, but don’t despair. This happens to everyone. You can take comfort that your size 4 friend could be a size 8!
Our next task was to cut out and pin together the special-order McCall’s shirt pattern pieces, or “sloper.” A sloper is a tightly-fitting pattern, tighter than anything you would actually sew up, and it’s used to determine which fit alterations you can make at the pattern tissue stage. We pinned the shirt pieces so that all of the pattern lines were printed on the outside. Now, this was only half of the pattern since you would normally cut out two pieces of fabric. She then showed us ourselves in the mirror how the half-pattern pieces laid. A number of ladies had the same issues, and somehow it’s a relief just to see you’re not alone!
How do you know whether the pattern size is right and which alterations to make? 
1. The pieces should come to your exact middle in the front and in the back. If there is too much overlap or the pieces don’t quite meet, try another size.
2. In the back, the armholes should fall right at the join between your back and the crook of your arm. This ensures that the size fits your body’s frame.  Again, too far beyond will result in a too-big garmet, and the opposite is true as well.
3. If there are “drag” lines, they point to an issue, such as a higher shoulder, which can be easily addressed by modifying the tissue.

The most common alterations that you can make at the pattern stage include: full bust, forward shoulder and high round back. A full bust adjustment is needed if you wear greater than a B cup. Forward shoulder is very common these days due to computer work. And finally you know if you have high round back if your clothing tends to ride back, such as a collared shirt in which the button tends to pull back to your neck.

Okay, that’s all for now. For next weeks’ class our homework is to sew together the altered, cut-out bodice pieces but not complete the garment, and see what modifications can be made at the seam allowances, if needed. This class is based on this book, “Fit for Real People,” and here’s an link. If you can’t afford the time or expense of a class, the book uses real people with real figure “flaws” and corrects them step by step. It’s a great resource.