Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog


Free Printable: "FAMILY" Banner

You may not know, but we recently bought our first home! It is a fantastic, well-built home and we love it; but it needs a LOT of cosmetic updating inside. You can follow along on instagram with the hashtag #ffcoastalfarmhouse (Feathers Flights Coastal Farmhouse). We're starting in in the front room and moving through the rest of the house. The unfortunate thing about updating means I'm not putting up any pictures or art yet, and I'm not decorating for any holidays. My kids love when I decorate, so they've been missing out since I started packing in January. My sister recently created an alphabet bunting that you can purchase, but I get to share a free "FAMILY" version! (I also linked to a free "CREATE" and free "HOME".)
I put this up to remind myself about what's important. Remodeling my home isn't as important as who is inside my home. Our home is definitely livable, so the remodeling doesn't actually need to be done. Sometimes I'm a little stressed out about remodels, or I'm tired from staying up late painting. Having a little reminder about the importance of "FAMILY" is good for me to see on a daily basis.
Free "FAMILY" Banner Printable
Download the file and print it on cardstock. Feel free to use colored cardstock for something fun. Cut along the given lines. Add two hole punches along the top and thread some baker's twine, yarn, hemp, or anything you have. I used some navy blue bias cut fabric that I had leftover from a project.
Don't miss the free "CREATE" banner and the free "HOME" banner!


Fabric A to Z Book Review

Today I'm going to talk about the book Fabrics A-to-Z: The Essential Guide to Choosing and Using Fabric for Sewing*. I got this book a couple of years ago for Christmas. Some of the fabrics I read about and didn't know what they were until the last year. Fabric stores have been much better at offering good and unique apparel fabrics, so you can actually find all the fabrics in the book.
Fabrics A-to-Z* has SO much information about fabric, but it's written in a way that's really easy to understand. I love that you can look up one fabric and everything you need to know is right there. There's an explanation of the fabric, all the properties of the fabric, and how to work with the fabric. I really love that you can know what thread, needles, and interfacing to use for each and every fabric. This page is about Tencel which was almost unknown when I first got this book. Now it is one of my very favorite fabrics to work with. I buy fabric yardage and thrift Tencel ready-to-wear items whenever I find them.
The fabrics are organized by fiber and then by each fabric, so you can always find what you want to learn about. There's information about all the different fabric prints, and at the back there's some basic sewing tips like how to sew with zippers. It's pretty amazing how much information is in this one book and how easy the information is to digest.
I would recommend the book Fabrics A-to-Z* to anyone who wants to learn about all the different fabrics and how to work with them. It's a great book to have in your library. It's small so it's easy to to bring it to the fabric store with you in case you need information while buying fabric and sewing supplies. It's great for any level of sewing because anyone who wants to sew can use information from this book. 


Why I Half-Tuck My Tees

Let's talk about the tuck or the halt-tuck trend. At first I thought, why would I do that? and what's the reason? Does it just add some "cool" and "trendy" factor? I started half-tucking my loose tees and analyzed the look. Look at the picture above, I'm wearing the same shoes, the same shorts, the same hair, etc. The only difference is the hem of the tee. Cover one side with your hand and then cover the other side. Where is your eye being drawn? On the left your eyes are drawn to the hem of the tee, but the tuck draws your eyes up to my face. On the right your eyes are also drawn to the hem of the tee, but nothing leads them away so the focus is left on my hips. Now we're not analyzing the fit of the tee, the fit of the pants, or the colors. We are focusing on horizontal lines created on our bodies.
I want to say upfront that this post isn't about how to achieve the fake, unattainable, body ideal created by media. This post is about deciding where you want the horizontal lines to bring focus on your body. You choose where you want the focus.
Look at the very simple rectangles above. Cover one with your hand and then switch. Which rectangle looks taller?
Right, the one on the left. If this were a woman wearing a dress, the one on the left would be wearing a dress with a empire horizontal line and the one on the right would be wearing a dress with a dropped waist horizontal line. Is one better than the other? Maybe you like the empire horizontal line better because you want to look taller, but maybe that horizontal line drew focus on your upper arms or bust.
Now look at these simple rectangles above. Cover one with your hand and then switch. Which rectangle looks taller?
The one on the left looks slightly shorter because the horizontal line is lower than half. This is about wear my white tee hits on my body. The one on the right looks taller and your eye doesn't linger on the horizontal line. Your eye rests on the point (because there's nothing else to look at in the rectangle). Here's a picture with the rectangles over pictures of me.
In these photos below my tee is half-tucked every time. It creates nice diagonal lines instead of focusing horizontal lines. I actually only tuck my tees when I'm wearing a looser shirt. When it's fitted the hem usually hits at my high hip (between my hips and waist), and I like the horizontal line there.
1. MAKER tee, shortssandals 2. Harbor Knot tee, leggings (thredUp), gray converse

There are times when you can't or don't want to half-tuck your tee. A way to combat this is to wear a long layer. The parallel lines running up your body draw the eyes to the face. They don't linger at the horizontal line created by the tee. The picture on the left is the same white tee and shorts I was wearing as the first pictures, but the parallel lines created by the kimono don't let your eyes linger. In the picture in the middle I'm wearing a tee that has a horizontal line at my waist and at the hem, but your eyes follow the vertical lines up. The picture on the right is another example of a tee with a lower hem, and a cardigan that draws your eyes up even if the cardigan is buttoned and doesn't create parallel lines.

1. loose tee, kimono (still available), shortssandals 2. Ikat jacket, navy tee (thredUp), pants (altered), flats (thredUp
3. coral tee (thrifted), cardigan, leggings, flats (similar)
As I said before these are the guidelines I use when I'm wearing looser fitting or longer tops. When it's fitted the hem usually hits at my high hip (between my hips and waist), and I like the horizontal line there. What did you learn about lines today? Anything that you've never thought about?


Me Made: Harbor Knot Tee

When Striped Swallow Designs released their Harbor Knot Tee pattern I bought it that very day. I have never fallen in love with a pattern that fast or bought a pattern the day it released. I usually like to take time to think about a pattern, think about fabric choices, and think about how it would fit in my thoughtful wardrobe. I'm really picky about patterns because I already have a lot of patterns that rarely get used so I like to spend my money on patterns that I know I'll use. Anyway, I loved the Harbor Knot Tee because it's a comfortable tee, but the little knot detail brings it up a level.
I made this first muslin to try out the pattern, and luckily, it's a wearable muslin. I've already worn it a lot. I used a thin, drapey, polka dot jersey fabric that was in my stash. I don't remember where I got it originally, but here's some similar blush rayon fabrics. It doesn't have a whole lot of recovery, but it has a good drape. I can't wait to try this shirt again in another fabric.
My measurements fell in between size XS and S, but after reading some test reviews and reading through the pattern instructions I decided to just make a straight XS. I'm glad I did because I think I could still make it even smaller. I even took out an inch at the waist after finishing the tee. I didn't know how the pattern pieces would turn into a knot so it was hard to do any altering before sewing it up.
I also lengthened the bodice 1" just under the sleeves. I'm 5'10" but I didn't need to add any height over the bust or to the sleeve cap. The next one I'll make will have a different look because I will use fabric with better recovery, but I want to make the sides a little tighter so it hugs my frame just a little more.
The pattern pieces were pretty straightforward and the instruction were good. I was able to follow the line drawings easily. The knot part was hard to understand just from pictures, but there's a video explaining how to do that step which makes it a lot easier. I would recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to tackle a little bit of a challenge and make a really amazing tee!
I tried a new hemming trick with my double needle which made my hems look better than they have in a long time. I've been avoiding knits since last summer because I was so fed up with my double needle tunneling everything. I'd tried so many tricks that wasn't working, but I finally found one that worked. Hopefully I'll be sharing a tutorial soon!


Patternmaking for Fashion Design Book Review

The other day I realized I have a good sized library of sewing books. Some books I have used only a couple of times, and some books I reach for over and over again. Some books are textbooks from college (I studied clothing construction and family science), and some I have purchased or were gifted since graduating. I thought you would be interested in some sewing book reviews, so you can decide how to build your sewing book library.Today I'm going to review the book Patternmaking for Fashion Design by Helen Joseph Armstrong*. This is a textbook from my college days, and this is the one book I use constantly especially when I'm altering a pattern. It is definitely an expensive book and priced as a textbook (why are textbooks so expensive!?). It was 100% worth it for me at least because I always reach for this book. I often use this book before googling.
This book is all about how to alter flat patterns. You learn about everything from style lines and dart manipulation to creating collars and puffed sleeves. I will warn you that this book does not have any sewing help. It shows you how to create a design with a flat pattern but not how to sew it. I love looking at all the design inspiration. It's so fun to just look at the pictures, and then realize you can make all of those with a little bit of flat pattern work.

The majority of this book is about creating patterns for women and using woven fabric. There is one section about knits for women, one small section for menswear, and a section about childrenswear. I use it mostly for myself, but have used some things to help with altering patterns for my kids too. It helps a little with knits too.
My favorite page in Patternmaking for Fashion Design* is the page with all the math done for circles. It gives you all the measurements (length, radius, etc) for a quarter circle, a half circle, a three-quarter circle, and a half circle. I often use this for skirts and dresses, but with the flared sleeve trend right now this does all the work for making your own bell sleeve! Then you can attach the flared piece to your tried-and-true sleeve pattern without having to buy a new pattern!

All of my books I keep on a bookshelf in my bedroom, except for this book. I keep this book on a shelf right above my sewing machine so I can reach for it whenever I need it. It's a book I like to keep close.
I would recommend this book, Patternmaking for Fashion Design*, to anyone who wants to create their own pattern, anyone who wants to really create their own styles from a basic pattern sloper, or anyone who does a lot of pattern hacking for their kids. If you draft your own sloper to fit your body shape, you can use this book to create any style you can think of from your personal sloper.
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