Bias Tape By Hand

A better way of making bias tape. Wish I’d seen this before . . . (Image by debcll).

I think that I can safely say that making my own bias tape (especially by hand, without any tool to assist in folding the bias strips) is another of my less favored parts of sewing so far. I have spent hours over the past two days learning how to stitch the bias strips together so the seams are always on the right side and always face the same direction.

Just now, I finished pressing the bias tape for my real version of the Sorbetto top, which is all finished except for the neck and arms (hence the need for bias tape). It is looking good. The fabric I chose is a nice, very thin purple cotton. It drapes beautifully, giving me the most flattering fit on the Sorbetto (or any top) that I’ve had so far.  I’ve got a couple cute bone-colored buttons that I think I’ll add to the pleat for a bit of visual interest. I’m eager to finish it and wear it around the apartment.

Alas, it’s sleeveless and NYC is now too cold for me to wear it outside. I’ll have to enjoy it privately, or else wear it under a nice toasty wool jacket.

One thing I have learned from the Sorbetto is how much I prefer the bias tape finish to the facings that I’ve had to use for the other tops I’ve made. So, in return for the discomfort of making this stuff, there is the benefit of not having to deal with flippy floppy facings. I’m sure it will be more than worth it–especially once I get a better method of folding the tape.

In Progress . . .

I have two sewing projects in advanced states of progress. My linen skirt (Simplicity 5941) is complete save for hemming and inserting a hook and eye. I am pleased with it, and have put some notes on a post-it in the envelope so that it is even better next time (when I hope to learn how to make a waistband for it).

My second muslin of my Sorbetto top is much, much better in terms of fit. I just finished applying the bias-tape around the neck (in order to practice what is to me a new technique. It feels great . . . though it doesn’t look nearly as good. I’ll need to practice making more consistent tape, get better at sewing around the tape in a smooth fashion (no squiggling!), and definitely use a thread that matches my real Sorbetto top’s fabric very closely. Now, I just have to make enough tape to bind the armholes so I can see whether the size is fine the way it is, or if I need to scoop them out a bit more.

I have to say, after my first muslin I did not expect the Sorbetto to even approach “flattering.” It’s just a really shapeless garment. However, adjusting the darts and going down by one size has helped a lot. The back still has a lot of extra fabric, but I don’t think I want to mess with that since the top still has to go over my head.

Plus, there is a such thing as overfitting. In my case, that would mean that I do muslins until I’m sick of a project, and thus never end up with anything wearable.

That’s why I threw together the linen skirt. I was starting to get frustrated by my “failures” and wanted a sure-fire success that was for me (so hubby’s pjs were out of the running).

I need to push forward and get a couple more things done, then I’ll do a photo-shoot and share the fruits of my very busy week of daily sewing.

Tops, Bottoms, and More

I’ve been a busy sewer and knitter over the past four days.

Empire-Waisted Top

Simplicity 3750

Over the weekend, I finished my (first) muslin for Simplicity 3750, the empire-waisted top with a tie at the waist. I traced a size 12 at the bust and tapered to a size 14 at the hips. Now that I’ve put the top together, I understand much better how it works and how I can make it more effectively in the future.

For example, somehow before I actually made the thing I didn’t realize that the front panel and the bottom front panel actually join each other, with the tie lying on top of the two joined pieces. Now that I know, I can taper without fear.

And taper I fear I must, because I think I need to go down a size, perhaps all over. It’s difficult to tell for sure, because the top fits reasonably well as it is. However, I had to take 1.5″ seam allowances in the center back and the top still has a lot of extra fabric when I fasten the tie. Also, the side seams, which hang in the proper place when the tie is unfastened, pull back and seam off once the tie is . . . tied.

Additionally, I think that the front top piece is a bit shallow. The band hits me above the underwires of my bra. I’m considering slashing the tissue and adding 1/4″ so that the pocket for my chest is just a bit deeper. Funny, since I’m very small busted, but I do think it’s necessary.

So the question is . . . do I simply adjust what I have? Or do I go back to the tracing-board and trace a size 10 at top, grading to a size 12 or 14 at the bottom? I don’t want to end up with a top that is too small either.

Once I get this pattern fitted and “production-ready,” I have a lovely turquoise and brown-paisley cotton with a speckled brown fabric for the contrast belt ready to cut and sew up.


Colette 0003: Sorbetto Top (Image from Colette’s site).

As I was thinking about how to adjust my empire-waisted top, I printed, taped together, and traced the Colette Sorbetto top. I wasn’t too pleased with my first attempt at making a woven t-shirt (Simplicity 8523). Thus, I thought going back to the drawing board and starting a new, baggage-free pattern was a good idea. I like the fact that the Sorbetto has good reviews, and many of them. I like the fact that it is free. And I like the fact that there are now user-drafted sleeves available for download.

For this top, I traced a size 2 at top grading into a size 6 at the hem. Easy-peasey, if it works. I’ll probably sew this up today, after my shopping excursion.

New Look 6859 (Awesome Hubby’s PJs, Again)

Awesome hubby has asked for two more pairs of PJs, and has underlined the necessity of me making them by putting a hole into the knee of his last pair of store-bought ones. He does insist on sitting cross-legged on his exercise ball while bracing his leg under the lip of his desk. That is really hard on clothes, and since he often works from home his comfy lounging pants see a lot of use.

The other day, I staked out several fabric stores in the garment district, and now I have two different fabrics in mind to make new PJs. I’ll pick them up today.

New Look 6227 (aka Extravagance)

But this is the real reason I have to go to the Garment District. When visiting my mom in Ithaca, I (of course) went to Joann (again) and picked up some (more) new patterns (I’ll post them later). This is one of them:

New Look 6227. Everyone needs a cape, right?

I think I’m still a long way away from being able to make a jacket or coat. Heck, I haven’t even gotten to sleeves yet. But I think I could manage a cape. I want something eye-catching, so I was hoping to find some nice, deep green coating. I browsed, and I found what I wanted at Paron.

Unfortunately, “what I wanted” cost a gut-wrenching $33/yard, and the pattern requires three yards plus a lining fabric!

I came home sad and empty-handed, because there is no way I could justify spending $100+ on fabric for a cape that I could possibly mess up. At the same time, I am certain that this pattern is so simple in design that it is best to let the fabric “sing” for itself. All other options paled next to this coating option.

Fortunately, that’s not the end of the story. I thought to look online for coupons, and it just so happens that Paron is running a Groupon: $100 of fabric for $40. You better believe I bought that up fast. Now, I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that the deep green coating is still there, waiting for me. Three yards of it is all I need.


Oh yes, I knit, too. I’ve been stalled for a while on all three of my projects, though. About three weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to pick them up again–and discovered that (of course) I’d put each of them down for a reason. I was having trouble with them. One of the three, a comfy cardigan with cables in brown washable wool from Smiley’s, was fixable, though. I’ve made tons of progress on it while watching Bones marathons over the last couple weeks. I think it’s going to turn out OK, if a bit larger than I had intended. If not, this yarn is so nice to work with that I don’t think I’ll mind redoing the whole thing!

It feels good to be making progress. Again.