Feathers Flights // Sewing Blog

5.25.2017

Sewing for the Girl: Floral Girls' Dresses

My girls were in need of some dresses. They've grown a lot recently. Project Run and Play is having a floral link up to enter for a fabric giveaway, and Bonnie from Whisk 'Em needed a review on Etsy for her dress pattern. I satisfied both of these by making a floral dress for each girl using the Infinite A-line dress pattern. 
For both girls I made the empire waist version with the gathered flutter sleeves. I really have this thing for a princess seam line on little girls' dresses. I think these are the 5th and 6th dresses I've made with a princess seam line in the bodice. I didn't make any alterations except I left off the pockets, and for my baby's dress I was a little short on fabric for the skirt so I did pleats instead of gathers.
This pattern literally has an infinite amount of versions you could make. You get so many ideas and styles in one pattern. It runs newborn to size 8. I made a size 3 for my daughter and lengthened the skirt to size 4. I made a size 12 mos for my baby and lengthened the skirt to size 18 mos. I wanted a lot of growing length. The pattern not only gives lots of different ideas of dresses to make, it has detailed instructions with pictures of every step. I think it's a great pattern for beginners.
I used quilting cotton for all of the fabrics. I have been collecting small cuts of adorable quilting cotton to one day use for my little girls' dresses. I feel like they are finally big enough that I can start using those precious fabrics. I wanted the dresses to coordinate without matching. I didn't have enough fabric to make them the same dress anyway. I stuck with navy, pinks, and white for a cute and coordinating look.
The size 3 dress is made with a striped fabric for the bodice. I think my aunt gave me this fabric when she cleaned her stash out. Here is a similar pink and white striped fabric*. I used this floral quilting cotton* for the skirt and sleeves  of the dress. I got it as a remnant so it was 50% off.
The size 12 mos dress is made with a navy floral fabric for the bodice. This fabric is also from my aunt cleaning out her stash. Here is a similar navy floral fabric*. I used this triangle quilting cotton* for the skirt and the sleeves. I also got it as a remnant at 50% off.
I used KAM snaps* for the placket on both of the dresses.
 I love this outtake. My baby was not happy to stand and hold hands with her sister.

5.22.2017

My 8 Favorite Fabrics to Sew Clothing With

I feel like I've learned a lot about fabrics in the last couple of years. I have been sewing for a long time, and I've made lots of mistakes. I've made clothing that didn't fit right. I've used fabric that was too light for an item or too heavy for an item. I still make mistakes or don't think items all the way through, but the important thing is that I've learned from my mistakes. Along the way I've learned my shape and measurements, I've learned which silhouettes I like, and which fabrics I like to sew with. I feel like I've gotten pretty picky with my fabrics, and maybe they cost more, but I'm not buying as much and each item lasts much longer. Also, there are polyester or synthetic versions of all of these fabrics, but personally I choose not to wear polyester because I get so uncomfortable.
If you don't sew a lot, these are still good fabrics to look for when purchasing a RTW item. There are affiliate links in this post, thank you for understanding and supporting me!
1. Rayon Challis
I have actually only made one item out of rayon challis*, but I loved working with it so much I bought 3 more cuts. It's a woven that's really easy to work with and isn't too slippery, it is opaque, drapey and cool for when it's hot. I have made a woven tee, and I plan to make two tunics out of rayon challis. Rayon challis works well for drapey tops, drapey dresses, and drapey skirts.
I love this watercolor rayon challis* and there are tons of floral rayon challis* fabrics to choose from.
2. Cotton Lycra Jersey
I have sewn with so many different cotton lycra* fabrics. I can't even count how many items I have made using cotton lycra. Some is definitely better quality than others, and I like to get 8 oz or more so that it's easier to work with and not transparent. Cotton lycra works really well for fitted tees, fitted skirts, and thin leggings. I even use remnants to make underwear for my kids. My favorite is solid cotton lycra*. My solids always get way chosen and worn way more than any prints. Cotton spandex is also one of the easiest knits to sew with.
3. Woven Tencel or Lyocell
I have actually only used Tencel* once, I made my denim joggers from it; but I have purchased a tencel utility jacket and thrifted a tencel button down. Once I touched and sewed with tencel, I only want to touch and sew with tencel. I literally can spot it from across the room because of the slight shimmer it has and the way it moves. Tencel is similar in drape and hand to rayon challis, but it's much stronger. I've also noticed that tencel fabric I purchased was stronger than purchased tencel RTW items. There also lyocell* which is the un-trademarked version of Tencel. I haven't noticed a huge difference between the two, but I have been able to compare very much.
4. Rayon Spandex Jersey
There are lots of loose, drapey styles that are popular right now, and lots of new patterns to reflect this. The best and most inexpensive fabric to use is rayon spandex jersey*. I have only ordered a couple of rayon spandex cuts, and I would be careful about weight and quality. Rayon spandex is a little bit trickier to sew with since it's so lightweight, but after some practice you can sew with it. I like to use rayon spandex for drapey tops, drapey tunics, and drapey dresses. Rayon is made from wood pulp, and there's also  bamboo rayon spandex* which is bamboo. It's more expensive, but easier to sew with and rarely transparent. It feels like really fancy fabric, and it holds up better to wear than regular rayon.
5. French Terry
French terry* is a warm, soft, comfortable to wear, and easy to sew fabric. It's great for hoodies, sweatshirts, and shirts. It's my favorite for winter items. French terry has a wide range of stretch and a wide range of weight so be careful when looking online. I bought one once and it was more like a transparent rayon spandex, but then I've sewn with one that had almost no stretch and a thick weight.
6. Linen
This might seem silly but I think linen* is one of the most luxurious fabrics. If you dry clean it, it keeps it's special almost shiny coating. If you wash it it gets softer and softer with wear. I know people hate linen because it wrinkles so easily, which it does; but the wrinkles look luxurious to me. It's a great summer fabric. (I often swoon when I see a man wearing a linen summer suit.) I like linen for structured but not too fitted tops and jackets, and summer pants and skirts. It doesn't do well when it's really fitted because the fabric can tear easily. I've been eyeing this cotton linen stripe in sky* for awhile. Wouldn't it make the most amazing jacket?
fitted linen cheyenne tunic
7. Chambray
Chambray* is a lightweight woven that has white yarn in the weft and colored yarn in the warp making it a subtle multi-colored fabric. It's perfect for tops and lightweight skirts. I like it because it's such a great basic neutral. Since it has subtle color differences you can see the texture, but it reads like a solid. I have purchased this union dots indigo chambray* which is woven to have the white yarn peek out like dots. I love it and wear it all the time.
8. Quilting Cotton (For little girls' dresses!)
I never recommend quilting cotton for clothing since it's so stiff. The only garments I recommend it for are fitted button downs, bows, boys' button downs, and little girls' dresses. I'm currently making two girls' dresses using this Triangle Quilting Cotton* and this Floral Quilting Cotton*. Quilting cotton is really easy to sew with and comes in all kinds of colors and prints. It's really inspiring to walk through rows of quilting cotton.
What are your favorite fabrics to sew with?

5.16.2017

Me Made: Waterfall Raglan with Bell Sleeves

I have been thinking about the upcoming hot summer and the tees I'll be wearing. Last summer I made a bunch of simple, solid tees (I actually only have only a few in my closet now), and I'm ready to move onto tees that are a step up from basic. I've been eyeing the Waterfall Raglan ever since it came out, but I didn't know if the shape would look good on me. I like to watch and think about a pattern a long time before I buy it. Well, I met Gabriela from Chalk and Notch at Snap conference (she was my roommate!), and at the sewing meetup she gave away one free pattern. I won't say no to a free pattern, especially one I've been eyeing.
As I was searching for inspiration for a tee with a ruffle hem, I came across this bell sleeve charcoal tee with a ruffle hem. I fell in love with the color, the bell sleeves, and how it had raglan sleeves and a ruffle at the hem just like the Waterfall Raglan. I know myself and knew I would be more likely to wear it if I made a hi-lo hem instead of the curved front and back hem.
After reading some reviews of the pattern, I decided to make a size 0 which fit my measurements perfectly. (You only have to measure your bust and your bicep.) After assembling the pattern and realizing I had only a yard of fabric to work with, I altered the pattern some more. I shaved off 1/2" both side seams and tapering it so that I didn't alter the sleeves. I also took off 1/2" of the ruffle sides. I shortened the short sleeves but 1.5" since I planned to add the bells. I cut 6" by 1.5 the measurement of the bottom of the sleeve for the gathered bell. I flipped the front curve from going down to going up and lowered it by 2". I didn't alter the back.
I won this rayon spandex fabric from a Project Run and Play giveaway from Fabric Mart. I purchased it without a plan and only got 1 yard. The Waterfall Raglan calls for 1.25 yards of fabric for the size 0, but I knew I could make it work. After a lot of jigsaw work and careful cutting, I made it work with 1 yard. (I don't recommend it unless you want to alter the pattern and stress yourself out about making it work!)
This fabric is soft, really drapey, and wasn't that hard to work with. I love the feeling of it and the amazing movement.
The pattern is drafted really well and the instructions were detailed. A beginner would definitely be able to make this with a lot of patience. I was very impressed with the pattern, and I'm not just saying that because I met Gabriela in real life. It really is a good pattern. I would recommend it to anyone. I also have to say that I've seen the Waterfall Raglan on lots of difference body types, and it was flattering on all. Especially if using really drapey fabric.
I love the pocket detail, and the bell sleeves. I have not been interested in bell sleeves at all. I was just going to wait for the trend to pass. That could be because I mostly see bell sleeves as long sleeves and I only like long sleeves that are tight and fitted. Once I realized I could wear bell sleeves in the summer and get that extra breeziness, I was all in. I guess with this tee it was "go big or go home", right? Give me all the ruffles. I've already worn this tee three times since I finished it, and I can't wait to wear this tee all summer!

5.12.2017

Printing by Hand Book Review

When I first started sewing for kids I remember when Miriam began printing fabric, and I was floored. I loved the look, and the way you could lovingly make a solid fabric into a showstopper fabric. I was on a tight budget at the time and couldn't afford most printed fabric, and I really loved the organic look of stamped fabric. Each stamp is slightly different than the last which makes it look almost worn out or very vintage. I love that look.  There are affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting me and understanding!
When I was first learning about printing fabric I asked for the Printing by Hand: A Modern Guide to Printing with Handmade Stamps, Stencils, and Silk Screens* book by Lena Corwin for Christmas. (I have received most of my sewing library books for Christmas or they are kept from my college classes.) I wanted to learn all that I could. I had mostly been making and using foam stamps so that is what I read about first. She recommends mounting your foam stamps on acrylic which I've never chosen to afford, but I love the idea of being able to see through the stamp to choose the placement.
Printing by Hand* teaches you about foam stamps, stencils, and silk screens so you definitely find the way of printing that you like the best. I still love foam stamps since I can print a lot without a lot of work and I can use the stamps over and over again. I've tried stencils and didn't have much luck. Sadly, I have not tried silk screening, but I need to! There's lots of creative ideas for finished fabric items, and lots of creative ideas for fabric that you can then sew into anything you want.
I would recommend this book Printing by Hand* for anyone wanting to learn about the art of printmaking. It's geared for beginners, but I think anyone could learn something from this in-depth book. The pictures are so pretty and inspiring. I really love all the nature inspired prints. 
I do have some of my own fabric designs and a lot of them originated from a hand cut foam stamp that I stamped, digitized, and created a print. I really love creating fabric prints and need to put more effort into that. (When I get an extra hour every day!)
The cool thing about this book is that there's a bunch of free image patterns that comes in the back of the book. All of the images used for hand printing in the book's examples are included, so you can make anything that inspires you from the book. It's a great book!
I'm really interested in getting the Block Print: Everything you need to know for printing with lino blocks, rubber blocks, foam sheets, and stamp sets* book by Andrea Lauren next.

5.08.2017

Me Made: Floral Harbor Knot Tee and GIVEAWAY!

I made another Harbor Knot Tee. My first one was a beautiful color and had lovely dots, but there was not enough spandex in the tee to give it good drape and returnability. Luckily, I assumed that my first one would be my wearable muslin and planned to make another one. I was able to make a couple of extra alterations on this one and it's perfect. I've probably worn it every week since I finished it. It's comfortable, trendy, flattering, and forgiving.
To win 3 yards of this beautiful rayon spandex comment on my instagram post and tag your favorite sewing friend!
For this one I used a rayon spandex fabric. I have a giant roll of this in my stash that I use every once in awhile. The roll was a remnant from a manufacturer from years ago. It's a great fabric with lots of drape and returnability. There's a big difference of fit between the first one and this one based solely on the fabric. This one falls over my body without sticking out from it. I made an XS on each one. The dotted blush one is a little too long, and my hips don't fill it out. (I don't have hips, I'm more of a rectangle/inverted triangle.) I don't have the same problem with my hips in this one.
The original alterations I made to the pattern were to lengthen it by 1 inch just below the sleeves. I also took 1 inch out on each side at the waist. I kept these same alterations, but I shortened the curve of the hem by 2 inches. Since the fabric is so stretchy and drapey, I still got lots of length; it looks almost the same length as my first one, but it hits me at a much more flattering spot.
The knot and curved triangle hem is very flattering and easier to wear than half-tucking a tee. I can't wait to wear this tee all summer long. Most likely on a weekly basis.
thrifted skinny jeans*, sandals*
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