SeamstressErin Designs | Every Day Dress Up.+Add.Feed Info1000FOLLOWERS
Seamstress Erin is an obsessed sewist, inked knitter, cat herder, and mad scientist. She looks at Every Day as another chance to play Dress Up. She writes sewing patterns for Every Day Dress Up. Mission is to inspire you to create things. To spread the love of sewing, knitting, quilting, crafting, and needlework.
The question that I get the most about my Electron Layette pattern is “can a toddler climb around in it?” People are worried that a toddler’s movement might be restricted by the drop crotch of the pant and Evelyn is here to show you conclusively that she’s able to be as much of a climbing-jumping-running-flopping maniac in these pants as any others! Of course I didn’t manage to get any great action shots since she’s always moving too fast! (Though I did just buy a new lens for my camera so indoor action shots should be easier from here on out). So hopefully you’ll believe me :)
This set is sewn in size 2 yrs though Evelyn is somewhere between 18 months and 2 yrs in sizing so she has a bit of room to grow. She’s no longer interested in wearing the hat that is a part of the pattern (and never actually needed the drool bib that is also included) but she gets a lot of wear out of the pants and cardigan! These pants are a jegging fabric (that I had really really hoped to use for myself but got a little overenthusiastic and used it for a not-quite-ready draft of an upcoming leggings pattern that turned out to be unwearable so I had to salvage what I could for toddler clothes). The cardigan is from the scraps of my Ruby Joggers.
If you have a newborn to 2 yr old to sew for and are looking for a modern layette (outfit), check out our Electron Layette pattern!
Every year on Christmas Eve I would get to open one present before going to bed. Somehow it took me something like 15 years to figure out that that one present was always new pajamas. I want to keep the tradition going for my own daughter (and time will tell if she’s quicker on the uptake than I am). Last year (her first Christmas) I bought pajamas for the family but this year I felt like I had the time and bandwidth to make them. I don’t want to give myself pressure to make them every year, but, instead, celebrate the years I do get to make them.
My friend Marissa recently brought me a stack of fabric that she had inherited – she picked out everything loud and/or pink to give to me (she knows me well). I’ve been wanting some pajamas for myself that are cozy but still presentable enough that I feel comfortable in them in front of company. When I was a girl I loved wearing flannel nightgowns (especially if they had ditzy floral prints, lace, ribbons, and bows) but I haven’t had one as an adult so I thought I’d give a nightgown a try. I picked out a simple vintage “robe” pattern from my stash (Butterick 5744) for myself and a vintage pattern from my childhood for Evelyn (Simplicity 6664).
I did make one stupid mistake when sewing my pajamas (because no sewing project is complete without at least one mistake). I didn’t have much extra yardage but I did go to the time and effort to perfectly match the plaid across the front. Only I stupidly matched the plaid along the center seam lines not the actual center front line (since the sides overlap to button). Oops.
Evelyn’s pajamas were made from the scraps after cutting mine so I pieced hers together with some cream flannel (that I had picked up at the thrift store and used for interlining). The color blocking in the front wasn’t so much an inspired design decision as an attempt to use as much of the plaid as I could, but I think it turned out cute.
I went up a size in width but kept the length as-is so that Evie can (hopefully) wear these next winter as well. Though they turned out surprisingly long given that Evelyn is on the tall side. Like tripping hazard long. I’ve remained slightly negligent in that I never actually went back and re-hemmed them so these are the kind of pajamas we put on right before bed and take off right after getting up instead of the kind of pajamas that we run around all day in when Mama just can’t quite wrangle the toddler into real clothes.
My pajamas are not as long as I had hoped but I made them as long as I could with the fabric I had (and I decided it was worth it to sacrifice a bit of length to make the plaid match horizontally since plaid matching is one way to really elevate a handmade garment above most ready-to-wear). I thought about adding a colorblocked strip to the bottom of mine for the extra length but it looked like an afterthought (which it was) since I didn’t incorporate it anywhere else so I nixed it.
I was excited to find a special use for the buttons on my pajamas. They’re made out of deer antler and I bought them in Alaska when I visited my brother. I had used them before on my Rambo Skirt but cannibalized them before donating the skirt since I just didn’t wear it. I’m headed back to Alaska this summer since my brother is getting married (yay!) so maybe I can pick up some more?
It’s true that it’s generally easier to just buy a package of pre-made bias tape, but we don’t sew our own clothes because it’s easy, do we? I like to make my own bias tape most of the time because I can get a perfect color match and I can match the weight, hand, and fiber content of the main fabric. Pre-packaged bias tape is generally a cotton-poly blend and is pretty stiff. That might be just fine if you’re putting a Hong Kong finish on the seams of a denim jacket, but if you have a cotton voile or a silk crepe de chine blouse, it’s going to add a stiffness that you won’t want.
What is bias tape?
Bias tape is simply a strip of fabric that is cut on a 45 degree angle (for a “true bias” because it has the most mechanical stretch). If you’re used to working with pre-packaged bias tape, you can make your own with the following measurements:
Single Fold Bias Tape: Cut at 1″ wide with each edge folded under 1/4″ to make a finished width of 1/2″
Wide Single Fold Bias Tape: Cut at 1 5/8″ wide with each edge folded under a generous 1/4″ (or scant 3/8″) to make a finished width of 1″
Double Fold Bias Tape: Made as Single Fold Bias Tape and then folded again in the middle for a finished width of 1/4″
Wide Double Fold Bias Tape: Made as Wide Single Fold Bias Tape and then folded again in the middle for a finished width of 1/2″
Bias Hem Facing: Cut at 2 5/8″ wide with each edge folded under a generous 1/4″ (or scant 3/8″) to make a finished width of 2″
What fabric do I use for bias tape?
Stylistically, it’s up to you whether you want your bias tape to match your main fabric or contrast. As a general rule, I like to use lightweight cottons like voile or lawn since it makes a lightweight bias tape that is easy to make and press but won’t change the hand of lighter fabrics. If your main fabric isn’t too lightweight or drapey then a quilting weight cotton broadcloth is a nice choice and very easy to work with. You can also make your bias tape from much drapier fabrics like silk crepe de chine or charmeuse or rayon viscose. It can make a beautiful effect but it’s much harder to press accurately as it slips around.
How do I make bias tape?
To make your own bias tape, use the straight edges to determine the 45 degree true bias of the fabric and cut along the true bias. You can do this by using a large quilting ruler with a diagonal marked on it. Lay the diagonal so it is along your straight grain (the selvedge) and the edges of the ruler will be on the bias. I chalk along the bias line and then cut along my chalk.
Alternatively, you can fold the fabric so that the two straight edges are together and cut along the diagonal fold.
After making your first cut, measure, mark, and cut along an even distance from the edge of the first cut.
How do I join bias tape?
If your single piece of bias tape isn’t long enough it’s easy to join a second strip to lengthen the bias tape. Overlap the bias strips at a 90 degree angle so they make an L. Draw a line along the diagonal of the square that they overlap makes and sew along that line.
Cut off the excess fabric.
Press the seam open.
Making Bias Tape from Bias Strips
Once you have made your strips of bias fabric you may want to press them into pre-made bias tape (Note: This isn’t always the case. For example, the Ultraviolet Tee has instructions for finishing the neck with bias fabric without first folding it into a tape.) You can buy bias tape makers that are quick and easy to use. You thread the fabric into the tape maker and it helps to tuck it into the right fold for you as you press it on the other end.
Sometimes the simplest methods are best and I get the best results making bias tape with a cardboard template. All you have to do is cut a piece of cardboard the width of your finished tape and use it to press the edges over.
There comes a time in every person’s life when the fashions of their youth are on trend again. Folks, that time for me is now. The thing about revisiting fashions from the past is that I’m now old enough and self-confident enough that I can put my own spin them. I can take the elements I remember fondly, mix them up with other things that speak to me now, and rock a version that is totally uniquely me.
Growing up in Seattle, the 90’s were all about grunge. This black velvet babydoll (self-drafted off my tee shirt block) and black leather boots are a little bit 90’s Courtney Love (and so is my hair right now) as I was always drawn to the femme side of grunge (other than 7th grade in which I wore a lot of dumpy jeans, t-shirts, and oversized button front shirts). Styled with cheery geometric-print leggings and a necklace that was my grandmother’s, this outfit is all me.
Even though it’s highly tempting, since I work from my office in the basement of our house, I don’t actually spend every day in sweatpants. However, I do pretty much always end up in sweatpants at some point every day, whether it’s first thing in the morning when I pull something cozy on while I get Buglet up and get my morning tea or at the end of the day when I curl up on the couch to watch some TV with my partner. That being said, it’s kinda nice to have more than one pair of sweatpants.
I sewed up a pair of Paprika Patterns Ruby Joggers. If you don’t already have a favorite jogger pattern (or if you’re willing to cheat on your favorite), the Ruby Joggers are worth checking out. I know they’re a bit late to the jogger game (like me), but they’re unique from other jogger patterns in that they have a wide fabric waistband/yoke on both front and back (with elastic hidden and only in the back) so they’ve got a bit more polished appearance than an average pair of sweatpants. Yeah, yeah, I see you judging mine. I know. In plain ugly 90’s purple sweatshirting there’s no disguising the fact these are sweatpants. But just you wait until I sew them again in prettier fabric – they’ll totally be worthy of leaving the house in! (And look at Lisa’s examples in the meantime if you don’t trust me).
My main fabric is exactly as described – plain ugly 90’s purple sweatshirting – that I picked up at the thrift store. It kinda gives me flashbacks to some sweatpants that I wore as a kid in the 90’s before I started trying to look cool. The contrast is a cotton ribbing that I haven’t loved for sweatshirt cuffs (as intended) as it has no recovery, but it’s perfect and cozy for the yoke and cuffs of the Ruby – though if you are going to do something similar, note that the yoke is drafted to be made out of a minimally stretchy sweatshirt fleece so you’ll likely need to cut it down some if you have a stretchy fabric (or use it without cutting down if you have a belly or thick waist and don’t want to have to modify the pattern pieces for fit).
Since I’ve been on a quest to find all the sewing picture books in existence, I figured I should find all the knitting picture books too! Maybe you have a munchkin of your own and want ideas for books to get from the library or maybe you’re looking for gift ideas for the kiddos of your friends and family. These are all books about knitting that I’ve found and would recommend! (Want even more ideas for kids of textile lovers? Check out my list of sewing picture books!)
Noodle’s Knitting is a cute tale of a mouse who gets so into her knitting that she end ups knitting a scarf long enough to make a winter nest for her and her friends frog, hedgehog, and squirrel. Best part: The pages are flocked so all the yarn is a little fuzzy!
Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza follows a lovable owl who knits her way around the world while trying to find appreciative recipients of her sweaters. Best part: I don’t know why but my daughter just adores this book, so it gets Evelyn’s highest stamp of approval.
Ned the Knitting Pirate is the story of a pirate who loves to knit, despite receiving flack from his co-pirates. They change their tune when his knitting saves the day! Best part: It’s hard to find knitting books with male characters and this book shows that strong/masculine men (like pirates) can be knitters.
Extra Yarn is an imaginative tale of a girl who brings color to a greyscale world by knitting sweaters for everyone, every animal, and every thing from a magical box of yarn that never runs out. Best part: The illustrations get more and more colorful as the story progresses and the creative story made me smile.
Cat Knit is a cute and colorful story of a cat and the ball of yarn that he befriends and his struggle to like yarn after yarn becomes a sweater. “Warming up to something new takes time.” is Best part: This story was a gift to Evie from a dear friend and is what introduced me to the idea that I could find a whole collection of sewing and knitting books for my own daughter.
Knit Together tells the story of a mother who knits and her daughter who draws and the amazing thing they make when the collaborate on a project. Best part: This book does a lovely job of showing that different people have different skills and that’s okay because we can share our expertise with each other.
A Hat for Mrs. Goldman is a heartwarming tale of Mrs. Goldman, a woman who takes care of all of her friends and neighbors by knitting for them, and her young neighbor who learns to knit so she can do something kind for Mrs. Goldman in return. Best part: The book teaches that making things for others is a miztvah (good deed) and the things need not be perfect if they are made with love.
Shall I Knit You a Hat: A Christmas Yarn is the story of a rabbit and his mother who design and knit extra special hats for each of their animal friends with thoughtful customizations. The animals aren’t thrilled at first because the hats are pretty non-traditional, but once the snow sets in they realize and appreciate how thoughtful the rabbits were. Best part: The funny shapes of the hats are good for a laugh (and the sweet story is good for an aww.)
Knitty Kitty is a cute little tale of a mother cat knitting for her kittens. Best part: Cats and knitting. Need I say more?
The Goat in the Rug is actually about weaving, not knitting, but it should delight all sorts of textile lovers. It’s the true story of a Navajo rug being woven, from shearing to carding, spinning to dying, preparing the loom to weaving. Best part: It’s told humorously through the eyes of the goat whose wool is used for the rug.
Have you found any other knitting picture books I should check out?
I have accomplished what I didn’t think could be accomplished! I picked out a seasonally appropriate pattern, started knitting it, and finished it all in that same season!! And how ridiculous is it that I now kinda wish that we hadn’t upgrade our furnace to a heat pump this winter because our house is actually a comfortable temperature and I don’t need to bundle up in sweaters every day so I can’t just wear this sweater all day every day all winter long. Not that I’m complaining that our house isn’t freezing in the winter any more or anything, I just want more excuses to wear this gorgeous sweater.
The pattern is Stag Head Pullover by Norah Gaughan. The pattern was written well, the charts easy to follow. And of course it’s a totally awesome design, unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere. Norah Gaughan is a master of cables! And I love knitting cables.
The sweater knit up so quickly partially because it’s with a worsted weight yarn (and I always seem drawn to fingering instead) and partially because I got kinda obsessed and couldn’t stop knitting. I changed the construction order around a bit since I thought I was playing yarn chicken (though I turned out to have 118g left so I wasn’t actually playing yarn chicken at all, I just didn’t actually know the yardage of yarn I had to start. Better that way than the other way around!). The yarn came from the Bruce Woolen Mill and I bought it at the mill in New Zealand a couple of years ago on our honeymoon. It’s an angora blend made of offcuts and recycled fibers from the mill. (The same yarn (but different color) I used last year for my shrugigan). The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen the sleeves (though I probably could have been a little more conservative in my lengthening. Better too long than too short is my mantra.)
I dont’ know what else to say about the sweater other than I’m in luv! I love that it’s a total statement piece given the design but the fact that it’s a single neutral color means I can pair it with just about anything (if the shape is right, of course).
I love the fact that this bra, while 70’s inspired on its own, looks like it could be decades older when paired with the high waist panties. The panties themselves are a Sew Lovely pattern from 1969. I’ve had an itch to try the (what we think of now as “granny panty”) pattern since finding it at the thrift store (last year?). And I’m glad I finally tried it, though I must admit they probably won’t get much wear (though they’re comfy as all get-out, so maybe I’ll just wear them when husband is out of town). Speaking of, my dear partner is the most wonderfully supportive person and always praises my creations and how I look in them (and out of them too ;) That being said, he took one look at these and said “hmmmm, I’m having a hard time imagining what you’d have to do to those to make them look sexy.” Ha!
The photos I took don’t look that bad but trust me, I chose strategic photos. The panties have way too much ease so they droop off my bum and the crotch is super duper wide so it bunches in the back. Not exactly the look I’m going for. Also a bit confusing as the pattern does call for a knit and this tricot isn’t that stretchy so the fabric and pattern shouldn’t be mismatched.
I ordered a 70 denier tricot specifically for making some bra and undies sets and I’m unfortunately pretty disappointed with it. It feels comfortable and is a nice weight for underthings but the slightest tug on the edge of the fabric makes it start to run. I was super careful with it while constructing the bra and undies but they both already have runs in them. Drats.
I keep sewing the Watson bra with the thought that someday I’ll get it perfect. Well, I did get it perfect for a while with my green nursing version, but I quickly shrank out of it with post-partum weight loss and I haven’t been able to get it perfect with any of the versions I’ve sewn since. The most recent didn’t have quite enough stretch in the cup so it was a bit compressive. I self-lined the cups in the tricot this time so they fit well but the band is now too big. Not hard to take in a bit, just annoying – though it hasn’t stopped me from wearing the bra pretty much daily in the week since I finished it so I guess it’s not that big of a problem.
I thought the matching picot edge elastic all around the bra and undies was pretty fun and completely coincidental that I had the match in my stash. Ok, probably not a complete coincidence as this is pretty much my favorite color so when the options comes to buy something in it I take it. The bra hardware is salvaged from old RTW bras I cut apart and the straps, while not a complete match, are close enough to keep me happy. I have bought (and stashed) dyeable hardware and elastics so I may go that route someday.
I’m kinda getting into this whole matched-bra-and-panty thing, though I think I may be ready to move onto another bra pattern (and not the other Kwik Sew bra I have in my library as I wasn’t enamored with it.) Time for me to peruse bra patterns! Though I have an idea and a sketch for a little bralette I want to make so I may end up going that route next. Who knows. Not even I can predict my sewing whims!
As we ring in the New Year (spent uproariously in our home with a bottle of apple cider, When Harry Met Sally, and asleep by 11pm ;) I like to look back on the year through the eyes of my blog. 2017 has been a mixed bag for the world, our family, and my business and frankly, I’m glad for it to be done and excited about what 2018 will hold. That being said, there have certainly been some great things that I’ve been able to share here.
SeamstressErin Designs launched 3 patterns year:
Electron Baby Layette was how I eased myself out of maternity leave and back into work. I started with a baby pattern because my body still felt so foreign after pregnancy that I didn’t want to sew for it. Fortunately, over the course of 2017 I’ve found a new level of comfort in my new body.
Laminaria Swimsuit was a complement to our previously published Nautilus Swimsuit. It’s a sporty, modern one-piece with a unique inset perfect for showing off a contrast fabric.
Ultraviolet Tee is an oversized tee that can be worn every day in the summer since it can be made from knits or wovens and can be cropped or standard length. I pretty much lived in it (and the various pattern hacks I did) this summer.
While feeling helpless in response to our current political climate and a family member’s health crisis, I looked to our amazing sewing community for good and you all brought it with #SewingCommunityGives! For one week, I asked people to pledge anything they could give to anywhere they wanted, just to do make a statement by saying they would do something to make the world a better place. More than 250 people pledged more than $12,500 and more than 2500 hours of community service. I am proud to be a part of such a community.
With my friends Jodi and Monserratt, I hosted Ease Into Motherhood. It was an excuse for sewists to share their stories about how becoming a parent has affected them. It spurred me to write about using sewing to love myself and my body. The themes that I picked out of the many stories that were shared are still something I reflect on regularly. Clio did a great job describing something that rings particularly true to me: “We’re sold this bill of goods that says we should be MOM before anything else. In our pasts, we may have had hobbies and activities, pursued goals and aspirations, and led rich and interesting lives. But once we are mom, we are supposed to be happy and grateful for our selves to be subsumed by motherhood, everything else about us a distant second… It’s not healthy to see ourselves as one dimensional.”
I’d love to put together a fabulous roundup of all the awesome things I sewed this year. But I find that I’ve neglected to get a lot of them on the blog. Bummer. There’s a couple reasons for this. First, I just can’t seem to get photos these days. I put on an outfit to photograph, plan on taking photos, but it never quite seems to happen. I just don’t have a place in our house or yard that seems to work well for photos (especially in winter!). I’ve got a photo backdrop and lights now for indoor photos, but it’s a bit of an ordeal to put it up. Maybe I need to revisit my definition of what “good enough” is because I do miss blogging my makes. I like having a record I can look back on and I like telling stories that go along with my clothes. All that being said, I did get the chance to sew (and blog) a number of things for myself. You can always see them all in My Closet. My Top 5 (blogged) garments this year are my Rainbow Rainproof Minoru Jacket, Wool Silk & Leather Fumettere, Linen Ultraviolet Dress Hack, Afghan Nomad Dress, and Floral Scuba Trapese Dress.
The second reason I haven’t gotten a lot onto the blog is that I have done a whole bunch of sewing I can’t quite show yet. In the first quarter of the year (hopefully!) we have 6 (yes 6!) new patterns coming out and I’ve done a ton of sewing of drafts and samples for them but haven’t been able to show them off yet. So why am I sitting on so many patterns? Four of them will launch with MaternitySewing. Lisa and I have been working our tuchuses off behind the scenes to get ready for launch and we’re almost there. We are so very, very excited about the project and are literally counting down the days until it’s ready for the world.
It’s probably a good thing that I don’t go into a daily office job right now because then there would be people (other than my husband) to notice that I’m wearing this dress a lot this winter. Like, a lot a lot. It’s comfortable as all get-out, it’s warm, it’s my exact winter palette, it works great with leggings (I’m working on a leggings pattern and I’ve gotta make sure the samples are comfortable to wear!), and did I mention how comfortable it is?
I drafted the pattern myself off of my t-shirt block (all it takes is a few vertical slits from hem to bust that are spread evenly) but the Closet Case Patterns Ebony is obviously pretty similar if you don’t want to do any drafting yourself. I wanted to have a swoopy hem with some interesting shape to it, but the underside of the scuba is white and I didn’t want it so visible so I left the hem straight. I wouldn’t be surprised if I ended up making more of these so if I have a fabric with a view-able reverse, expect a swoopy hem to grace it :)
Can we take a detour for a moment and ogle my hair? I decided I was done with asymmetry (for now) so this is as much length as I could keep to bring it even in the front. And then I had a dream that I had bleached blonde hair and decided to just go for it. Except I was actually patient enough to get a salon appointment to have it done instead of just bringing some bleach home from the drugstore as is my usual modus operandi. The 90’s are in right now and the all over bleach is definitely pretty 90’s, though if I’m emulating 90’s style icons I probably ended up closer to Courtney Love than Gwen Stefani. Oh well. My stylist told me that we could get it a bit blonder with future appointments but my hair just does not like to be processed since it’s so thick so there’s no hope of a real platinum. She even asked me if I had ever done genetic ancestry testing since my hair texture doesn’t match my skin tone. Ha!
I bought the fabric in February/March since it fit my Curated Closet plans. I actually bought so much of it that I was able to also make a pair of leggings and I still have some left over so I may need to make a matching outfit for my munchkin out of it as 2 garments is probably plenty for my closet. I’m not quite sure what I was thinking when I chose the yardage!
Since the scuba is pretty thick I didn’t stretch the neckband as much as I would with a jersey and instead let it puff just a bit. I like the bit of dimension it adds.
This was one of the first project I sewed on my new serger/coverstitch machine and O.M.G. I can’t believe I didn’t just bite the bullet and buy it sooner (oh yeah, the cost!). But it made sewing a complete breeze and it’s fun to be able to do RTW-like finishes with ease. I’ll write a review of it soon in the hopes I can encourage others to take the plunge as well.