Colorful Charity Sewing

SoundStitches sewing blog charity sewing Days for GirlsHere’s what I did last weekend: I stitched colorful fabrics to help girls stay in school! A co-worker alerted me to a sewing session to benefit a group that believes, “Every girl in the world deserves education, safety, and dignity.” Well, I decided I not only believe in that, but I could spend a few hours proving it! Here’s a bit more on Days for Girls International:

We help girls gain access to quality sustainable feminine hygiene and awareness, by direct distribution of sustainable feminine hygiene kits, by partnering with nonprofits, groups and organizations, by raising awareness, and by helping communities around the world start their own programs.

Practically-speaking, we stitched soft cotton covers and liners that will go into kits with washcloths, soap, and various plastic bags to make these necessary items easier to manage. We also consumed tasty soup, snacks, chatted, and enjoyed the great view afforded by our hostess’ hillside home! The goal of this program is to enable girls to continue attending school when they are often absent for one reason alone. More days in school leads to higher educational attainment and delayed motherhood, which leads to better maternal and infant health, and overall quality of life. Learn more or find a session near you: Days for Girls International

The organizer had assembled ready-to-sew kits. The fabrics were the delightful, high quality, and well-coordinated cottons you see in the picture, making it a pleasure to stitch together various combinations. I hope to attend the next session! This is actually the second session I’ve attended. The first was with school-aged girls, organized by a local mom, and held in a local crafts/sewing studio. Though puberty has not arrived for these girls yet, they were eager to either learn or practice their sewing skills to benefit other girls. And what a great, informal way to learn that the arrival of puberty is a challenge all girls can handle!



Vogue 8742

Vogue sewing patterns SoundStitches sewing blog fashion knit Pacific FabricsI’m making this Vogue look from a rust color ponte knit. I didn’t have enough to make the dress, so I’m making a tunic length top to wear with leggings. So far the look is flattering — another waist/bust/hip enhancing look for most of us.

I searched for other ladies’ results online and the pictures bring home to me the importance of choosing a substantial knit. That means a relatively heavy knit, such as ones you would wear for leggings or pants. Think winter instead of summer weight, and to test in the fabric store, squeeze a good handful of fabric, and see how it regains shape and whether it releases wrinkles soon. The right knit weight glides over your body without clinging (though of course wearing a slip or smooth undergarments further reduces “panty lines”).

In today’s standard patterns that contain both a sleeved and sleeveless look in the same package, the bodice pattern piece is identical. But ready-made sleeveless aren’t like this: looks don’t end at the sleeve cap but rather finish closer to the neck. Imagine you were feeling punk-ish and decided to take an old sleeved sweater from your closet to hack off and make a sleeveless sweater from. You could simply draw a line from the armpit to the top of the sleeve and cut it off. But, it would not result in a flattering look. Ready-made sleeveless looks cup in a bit to flatter the neck, arm and body. The sleeved look on Vogue 8742 works fine, but for the sleeveless look you’ll want to cut out another seam allowance-width of fabric.

Rusty red ponte knit
Rusty red ponte knit

In addition to changing the top’s length, I haven’t used the prescribed single-fold binding. Binding, sold in packages by Wrights, is stiff because it contains polyester along with cotton, and this stiffness just isn’t compatible with knits. Instead I purchased rayon seam binding for the neck and sleeveless armholes. (Pacific Fabrics carries many colors of seam binding in its stores. See if it’s available online too.) While rayon seam binding isn’t stretchy, it’s narrow, lightweight and both edges are finished. You can sew it to the dress fabric, right sides together. Attach it before you sew the shoulder seams, and you can eliminate backstitching. (I take time to suggest this because delicate rayon seam binding easily develops holes after the sewing needle goes over the same spot twice.) The rayon gives a worthwhile professional finish and eliminates the bulk created by twice turning over thick knit.

Early on, I accidentally ruched all the way down to the hem, as designed for the full-length dress. As I work on other details, I wonder what I will do with the hem. I may take out the gathering stitches so it will lie flat at the hem.

Finally, I’ve got to make an alteration where the back of the dress meets the neck. The last time I worked on other aspects of the top, I wondered if I even need a button closure. Most women’s heads measure about 21-22 inches (53-55 cm) around, and if the knit stretches this amount around the neckline, that’s all that’s needed. I’ll need to baste to test that out, and after Thanksgiving, I hope to finish up this rust-colored gem and wear it out of the house!

Cool Fashion Graphics to Awaken Your Inner Hipster

SoundStitches Sewing Blog CoolHipsterDressThis cool free graphic comes to you from Hipster Vector, which offers free graphics that can be downloaded and manipulated with graphics programs. They can adorn your Web site, blog, or Facebook page — the creator simply asks that you credit them, and so here is the credit for Freepik. The dress comes from a set called Cool Hipster Dress Up Girl — find it at the link above, and search for others. Other free art picks include vintage signage, mustaches, goofy clothing with or without body attached, bowties and badges (the digital kind!). Lots of fun!

And here’s the whole Cool Hipster Dress Up Girl set. For Halloween, I wanna be cool hipster girl!

SoundStitches sewing blog hipster girl dress set

Technique for the Well-Endowed

Did you know: the full-bust adjustment is the most common pattern alteration. Some are full-busted from adolescence, and some get that gift along with motherhood. Regardless, the “FBA” is worth learning because you’re likely buying clothing that’s too large for you in the shoulders, so the front of you can be presentable.

Standard patterns are made for B-cup busts, so don’t try to make up the difference by sewing up a huge pattern. Instead, choose your pattern size by the measurement of your bust at the high-bust (under armpit). (This is one of the facts least-known to beginning sewers.) Thankfully, a full-bust adjustment is easy to make to the pattern tissue before you cut into your favorite fashion fabric. Here are a few pics of this adjustment for my sewing student Denise. I like the techniques in Palmer Pletsch’s book Fit for Real People. The technique we used is for those who have more than one inch to increase the center front. We needed two additional inches. How much do you need? Pin 1) the shoulders of the back and front tissue pieces  together at the seam line and 2) the side seams at the seam line and try it on. Does the tissue come together in the front? If not, you need a full-bust adjustment. Measure how much is lacking. In our case, it was two inches, so we split the front bodice pattern in two places (we also had to cut elsewhere to allow the two main cuts to fall naturally). Note that we didn’t cut all the way through the pattern to the armpit. Instead we made a hinge by snipping nearly to the stitching line.

We then laid down a piece of foam board, then a large piece of pattern tissue paper, then the printed pattern. Using pins to anchor the hinges, we spread the right-most piece of tissue (as shown) one-half of the width needed (1″). We then spread to the left the other half (1″) resulting in two inches total. You can see a faint pen mark in the center of the white space in the photo above. To the far left, you can see that the bust dart became much wider. This is good: when sewn, darts help shape the garment. The armpit “hinge” also changed a bit, but the basic curve is preserved. Tape in all of the changes to the filler tissue below before removing the pins. The bottom of the pattern needs lengthening — all large-busted women dread the “tent” effect, created when a top is too short. Adding length to the pattern piece solves this problem (shown right). 

Next time, we’ll try it on, pinned as before, and we’ll ensure it meets at center front. (Some people need the entire dart moved down if it does not end at the apex of the bust. In this case, we’ll just cut away the entire bust dart and move it down.)

Denise is looking forward to making her own blouses, in her best colors, with the neckline she likes, and avoiding the “tent” effect.

Online Fabric Buying, Anyone? (Near Sea Naturals)

Have any of you bought fabric online? If so, what was your experience? As you stalk your next projects, do you include online sources, or do you stick with the traditional wander-around-the-store approach? Do you consider online fabric for garment-making or quilting? I would love to hear! Earlier this year The Humble Next posted a great online fabric compile article. I excluded just a few companies from my list below, such as Calico Fabrics, which is exclusively home dec. But I’m surprised that some are not on Christina’s list, such as the subscription swatch service Vogue Fabrics and the lovely knits from Christine Jonson. I’ve gotten swatches from Near Sea Naturals, and I’ve considered buying from But paying for shipping always makes me pause, and then I’m back to the need to touch the stuff.

Make sure to click the link (and to give credit to this nice piece of research by a blogger) but to summarize here’s The Humble Nest blog list:

For myself, I happily live in an area where there are many fabric choices, and vendors bring in new selections every year (through SewExpo in Puyallup, Washington). I like to support local businesses, and I also like to buy fabric when I travel (to the annoyance of my travel companions but oh well!). I haven’t always lived among lots of choices, but that locale also coincided with being either too low on funds or too busy to sew. What do you do, if you who live away from a large metro area? Do you shop retailers while you’re visiting elsewhere, or do you take a chance on online shopping? How do you make your color choices? (I’ve always wondered whether online fabric vendors shouldn’t indicate which Pantone colors their fabrics match. That way consumers could look up the Pantone colors separately.) Do shipping costs make you re-consider? I’m sure others would benefit from your experience, so please post a comment!