Mpressive Threadz Studio Blog

Sharing my love of sewing


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Sewing Help Needed!

pretty and polishedOperation Pretty and Polished is an event that allows students to select free prom outfits. At the event, friends and I have altered some of the gowns for the girls and pants for the boys. I am reaching out to sewists in the Washington, DC area and asking if you can spare an hour or more and help with minor alterations at the event.

Beginning sewing skills are fine! The minor alterations are shortening the length of the gowns by machine, taking in side seams, and hemming pants. If you can mark a hem, please help. If you can take stitches out, please help. If you can stitch a simple seam and can bring a portable sewing machine, please help.

The Operation Pretty and Polished event is Saturday, April 20, 2013 from 9am – 3pm at the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington. Contact Julia Irving, the Community Outreach Coordinator Sixth District at the Metropolitan Police Department at 202-698-1315.

I want to be at the Operation Pretty and Polished event, but I can’t. A promotion at work gave me a new role, and the new role is keeping me from this year’s event. I plan to be there next year, but more help is needed this year.

Thanks in advance.

Sincerely, Doris


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Sewing and Scoliosis

 

Sometimes medical conditions are not diagnosed by a doctor, but by a dressmaker. I had a young woman come to me at the last minute to make her a prom dress and it was nice to see her after several years.  She has grown into a lovely young woman, tallish, but most of all with a “straight” spine.  She is one of my special young women; I “diagnosed” her scoliosis while making a dress for her years ago.  There are three more young women in this group.  Scoliosis is a sideways curvature of the spine that occurs most often during the growth spurt in pre-teen and teen years.

I encountered the first one almost 20 years ago when she was a teen.  I was making a gown for her that had a fitted bodice.  When I pinned the center back seam closed I noticed it was twisted into an “S” shape.  I unpinned and re-pinned the dress and the twisting would not go away.  I had her mother take a look at it and we noticed one of her shoulders was higher than the other.  Her mother took her to the doctor for an exam and it was determined that she had scoliosis.  Her treatment included a brace. 

A few years later when making a dress for another teen, I knew instantly that she had scoliosis when I pinned her center back seam.  I told her mother that she needed to take her daughter to the doctor to have her spine checked.  I saw them both recently and the mother still remembers that fitting after all these years.  She still can’t believe a dress fitting would discover a problem like that.  Her daughter had to have surgery and a brace. 

The other two young ladies just had to be monitored during their growing years.  The best thing is that their conditions were detected early while they were very young teens.

So, if you are ever making a dress for someone and the center back seam twists, a visit to the doctor may be in order.


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The Making of Nicole’s Dress – Final Chapter??

 

The gown is done.  It’s the first time I lined black chiffon with anything other than black fabric and I love the effect.  I need to work on improving my photography skills because I could not capture the shimmer of the gray charmeuse under the black chiffon. To me it looks iridescent.  The pictures also couldn’t capture the sparkle of the rhinestones and beads. 

The chiffon and charmeuse are polyester and purchased from Sarah’s Fabrics.  The trim, beads and the rhinestones were purchased from M&J Trimmings.   Yes, it took hours to sew on the trim and those tiny beads, but I enjoyed it.  Busy hands relax the mind.

So where is she wearing this gown?  She’s going to a dinner dance given by her husband’s fraternity to raise scholarship funds.  They give scholarships to youths in Westchester County, New York.  I asked her to send me pictures of her in the dress when she’s decked out.  Hope she remembers.

I’ve been bitten by the bug.  I want to make something else that’s glamorous!

 

 


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The Making of Diana’s Dress – Final Chapter

 The dress is done and everyone is happy.  I like it so much I want to make one for myself, but in a different color and knee length.  This is a dress that makes me want to dance.  My favorite part of the dress, the flowers.  I added Swarovski rhinestones in the middle of the flowers. 
flowers

flowers

Here is the dress at the final fitting.  No tweaking needed.  

finished 1

finished 2

finished 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to press the dress and put it in a bag.

The  End

The End


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The Making of Diana’s Dress – Chapter III

Ruching is a very popular design feature.  Although it looks complex, it’s actually very easy to do.  I added it to Diana’s dress.  Here is how I did it.

I made a copy of the pattern piece to which I will add the ruching.  I determined the direction of the ruching lines and drew lines from the “start” seam to the “end” seam.  I only wanted gathers on one seam, so I cut off the seam allowance on the “end” seam because the shape of that seam will change during this process.

adding ruching lines

adding ruching lines

I placed another sheet of paper underneath the pattern piece.  Starting with the first line, I cut on the ruching line from the “start” seam almost to the “end” seam and spread apart the cut pieces.  I taped the pieces in place and repeated with the next line and continued until I had done all the lines.

cut and spread

cut and spread

As you see the piece started to curve.  Don’t panic if your piece does the same; that will happen if you are only adding gathers to one side.  I drew in the new seam allowances.  Now I have two pieces, the original piece which will act as a stay to which I will overlay the new ruched piece.

 

finished pattern pieces

finished pattern pieces

I now need a center front seam because the gathers are along the center front.

 

created center front seam

created center front seam

I staystitched the “end” seam of the overlay because I will have to clip it when attaching it to the stay.  Then I gathered along the “start”seam.

the overlay

the overlay

combining the overlay and the stay

combining overlay and stay

 

The bias grain comes into play a lot with ruching which means there will be points with a lot of stretch.  Stretch the piece out is needed.  If you don’t, you will wind up with a puffy look.  It hard to describe in detail, but you will know what I mean when you see it.  After basting the ruched overlay to the stay, I stitched the seam, adding an attractive design feature to this garment.

dealing with the bias

dealing with the bias

RUCHED!

RUCHED!

 

Give it a try! 

 Keep in mind: the lighter the fabric’s weight, the more gathers you will need to get a nice look.  The more spread you add to the pattern piece, the more gathers you will have.

 If you have any questions, I am here for you.


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The Making of Diana’s Dress – Chapter II

I started on the actual dress. I love my new cutting mat. I wore out my old cutting mat that was about 24” x 36” and required me to constantly reposition it when I was cutting large pieces. My new 36” x 72” mat covers the entire table, which means I can make a long cut in one swoop. I think some of the readers of this blog are beginner or novice sewers, so I think some sewing tips would be helpful.

Tip 1: I layer my fabrics on top of each other to cut out my pieces. I use a rotary cutter because you can get smooth cuts without disturbing the fabrics. Also, the rotary cutter is faster.

layered fabric

layered fabrics, ready to cut

Tip 2: I put a scant ¼” clip to mark the center front. That’s also the way I mark notches. When you are using a commercial pattern, don’t cut around the notches (diamond shaped) because it distorts the cutting lines and the notches will be off. Cut off the notches (leaving triangles) and use scant clips in the center of the triangles to mark the notches. The notches are more accurate when using this method. 

clipped center

clipped center

 Tip 3: Sew french seams on chiffon. It looks best. I do it a little different, so it easier to handle. How to make a French seam:  

A) Put wrong sides together and stitch a seam 1/4” smaller than the seam allowance. I know everywhere else you are told to stitch a 1/4” seam, but think about this. If you are using a commercial pattern that has a 5/8” seam, you will only use up ½” of that seam allowance, which means you add 1/4” of fullness for every seam. Make an 8-gore skirt and you have added an extra 2” of fullness to your garment. DON’T TRIM THE SEAM ALLOWANCE YET.

stitch 1/4" less than seam allowance

stitch 1/4" less than seam allowance

B) Press your seam open. Fold on the stitching line, putting the rights side of the fabric together and press on the stitching line, encasing the seam.

C) Now trim your seam allowance to 1/8”. If you trim your seam allowance first and then try to do the pressing, you will get whiskers that will extend beyond the final seam line.Your seams will have hair growing from it.

trim to 1/8"

trim to 1/8"

D) Stitch 1/4” seam, encasing the 1/8” seam. Now you have a beautifully finished seam that look great on the right and wrong side of the garment.
stitch 1/4" seam

stitch 1/4" seam

E) Press the seam allowance to one side, usually toward the back of the garment. Aesthetically pleasing.
wrong side

wrong side

right side

right side

Tip 4: I love my serger, but I won’t use it to finish every seam.
pinked seam

pinked seam

Serging the seams on this charmeuse fabric would take away some of the give in the seam because of the extra thread used, and leave impressions when pressing that can be seen on the right side.

A) I stitched my standard 3/4” seam. I like substantial seam allowances. The garment hangs better and you have something to let out if needed. I use a very narrow foot to alleviate the bunching and pulling that can happen when sewing light slinky fabrics.

B) After pressing the seam open, I stitch 1/4” from the cut edge using the longest stitch on my machine. I then cut 1/8” off the seam allowance using pinking shears.

 C) I press the new pinked edge by sticking a piece of paper between the seam allowance and the garment. This prevents impressions that would be seen on the right side.

Tip 5: I baste the chiffon and charmeuse layer together. Why? Easier to handle this way. How? I use the long stitch on my machine. I can’t drop the feeddog, so I raise the presser foot off the fabric just enough using my knee lifter (I have an industrial machine) to allow me to “pull” the fabric through as the needle goes up and down, resulting in LONG stitches that approximate the give that hand basting has.

Tip 6: For the lining, I stitch 3/4” seams and serge both seam allowances of the seam together, resulting in a 5/8” allowance when finished. Why? The lining is the part of the garment that gets the most stress. A more generous seam allowance means you lessen the likelihood of seams pulling apart. Yes, that 1/8” makes a difference. Press the seams to one side, usually toward the back of the garment. Aesthetically pleasing.

serged seam

serged seam