Sunday, September 27, 2020

Notes on Mentorship- Introduction

Each year I like to take a couple sewing and/or design workshops that are over several days or longer. Of course everything this year has been upended due to the pandemic. For awhile my sew-jo left me, all my plans for 2020 went out the window and I just made a whole lot of masks and then it slowly started to return. As my sew-jo returned I wanted to intentionally be creative. Not just make for the sake of making!

I did a lot of thinking and pondering about what I wanted to work on in my sewing journey the second half of this year and I decided that I wanted to work on some more designing options and develop stronger skills. I want to be able to see an interesting garment and be able to 'see' how to create it using either flat pattern methods or by draping. Now these are 2 very different ways of working so I decided I wanted to concentrate first on flat pattern methods.

I am pretty capable of working on this project completely on my own. BUT... working with a mentor is always a bonus in my book. Having another brain to bounce ideas off of and to ask a question when you get stuck or frustrated is good for me. Also having another person to help keep you accountable can be a bonus!

So, with the above loose goals in mind I wrote up a 4 month self-study mentorship program on using flat pattern methods to create new designs. (actually I wrote up 2! One for flat-pattern and one for draping) 

I had several specific thoughts on what I want to work on during this 4 month mentorship. I want to work on wearable designs, not special occasion. No jackets in this go around. I want to work off of master patterns that I have developed for myself and develop new designs for me in:




With this idea fleshed out and defined I sent my pretty detailed proposal to Sarah Veblen to review. She was game to participate and act as my Mentor for this project. Sarah offers several different types of online learning options. From zoom classes to full on 4 month mentorship programs and everything in-between!

I have worked with Sarah in a mentorship before but it has been several years and this time I wanted it to be more design and exploration based.

The basic idea is that for each of the 3 categories I use a certain amount of time to 

     1. identify inspiration garments-

    2. identify what it is about that inspiration garments that I like     

    3. Sketch these ideas on my croquis

    4. work in 1/4 scale patterns to transform the sketch into a pattern based off of my master pattern.

    5. take the more interesting ones to muslin stage

    6. take one or more to final garment. 

The tools that I am using for the project are:

     Pinterest, Google Images, Instagram, my own photos, books and magazines for inspiration.

    Pinterest with creation of secret boards and uploading my images and sketches and shared with Sarah.

    A My Body Model croquis that I use on my IPad Pro in Procreate app for sketching and drawing.

    Camera and Camera phone for photos and to use in reducing the full size pattern pieces to aprox 1/4 scale.

I am really looking forward to this exploration of design for myself! It will be fun and I am sure that I will learn a lot plus it will help keep me occupied as we enter into the colder months during the pandemic.

I am hoping to document my process and progress on the blog under title - Notes on Mentorship:

Feel free to follow along if you are interested or skip right over if not!


Friday, September 25, 2020

New Workout Wear- J Stern Designs Skort and my variations

Last week I showed you the new workout Bra/top and workout tanks that I have made. This week I am showing you the bottoms to go with those tops. I really had so much fun creating these outfits. One of the best things about sewing is that you get to customize it all for yourself!

Items I wanted to make- Sports Bras – tops – leggings (both full length and long shorts)

Considerations for my comfort was mostly around the fact that I don’t necessarily like my tush showing while exercising. Most times it is fine but living in a major city means that people will see me while outside and some guys are just crude… So, I decided that I wanted either tops that covered my tush, or an attached skirt or leggings that are patterned and fit well. I also wanted to make sure I had a pocket on my leg for my phone. This was a must for me.

For this blog post I am going to focus on the bottoms

Pattern:  Easy Fit and Sew Skort (now named Skort and Simple) from J Stern Designs.

Fit Changes: For the Skort pattern I made 3 changes. I lengthened the shorts and the skort by 5 inches. I have fat thighs and there is nothing worse than when exercise shorts, or any shorts for that matter, roll or slide up. The skirt portion I lengthened as well just to look more proportionate on me. In addition to changing the length of the shorts and skirt I did also add a little more room over the bum for the skirt only. You can certainly see this in the ruffle hem on the back that there is added fullness. However, it does not pull or ride up across the tush.  I basically did this by doing a slash and spread over the fullest part of my butt cheek.

Design Changes: The original pattern is for a short pair of shorts under a skirt. Well I changed that a bit to suit my needs. I basically made 4 different versions and used elastic in the waistband for all. The shorts fit so well in the pelvis that I decided to just use that as a base for the leggings. I literally just measured the length of my favorite pair of leggings and lengthened them to full length. I also added a pocket to the skirt on the first edition but changed this to a pocket on the leg portion of the shorts or leggings. This I placed on the right at mid/low thigh. This is the easiest of all pockets to add. Literally just a rectangle, cut big enough for my iPhone, with facing at top and then topstitched down with raw edges out. Super simple and works great for my needs.

Close up of one of the pockets- lightened up to see details. A pretty basic pocket that works out great for me.

When making the different bottoms I wanted to make sure to incorporate designs that work for me. Warm weather, cooler weather, walking, biking, yoga/stretching and functional or light weights/band/ball workouts. The skirted styles work perfectly for walking and biking and I feel most comfortable wearing these out and about.

Version 1: Long shorts with overskirt – 2 pairs. Tester version and blue version

Version 2: Full length leggings with overskirt- 1 pair peach skirt

Version 3: Long shorts – 1 pair plain black (these are also great under a dress when I want to hop on a Divvy bike to go somewhere)

Version 4: Full length leggings - 1 pair floral pattern

Fabric: All of the black shorts/leggings are made from fabric from J Stern Designs website. It is luscious and is wicking fabric!! The 3 different skirt fabrics were to match the bra tops and tanks for a mix and match workout wardrobe. The floral patterned bottoms fabric is from Discovery Fabrics and is called Solar Stretch. LOVE IT! The pattern stretches quite a bit before you start to see the white background through it. I have enough left over to make a long sleeve top.

Interfacing: none needed

Notions/Buttons/Zippers:  1 ½ soft elastic for waistband and for one pair of shorts elastic with gripper rubber on leg openings. This was purely done out of curiosity and to try it out. I cut the elastic the finifhed length of the opening. Serged it to the edge, flipped it up to the inside, leaving the raw edge of the elastic covered and then triple coverstitched the top edge of the elastic like a hem.

Waistband elastic on left and leg band elastic with gripper rubber on right.

the leg opening finished with the gripper elastic.

Seam construction and seam finishes: Seam construction was all done on the serger with a 4 thread overlocker.

Hem Finishes: Just like with the tops I took this opportunity to play with these to find what I liked and did not like. I used both front and back coverstitch as finishes and I did some zig zag as well. My favorite for this workout capsule was the reverse coverstitch. I also did a double row of reverse coverstitch on the waistband to make sure the elastic does not roll. (I HATE it when that happens)

Thoughts on the Easy Fit and Sew Skort. It’s easy and I highly recommend as a great place to start. The fit on my body was great using the recommended size per my measurements. I like that the rise is nice and long and the waist hits me at my narrowest part which is NOT where I wear regular pants. A super comfortable place for my leggings.

 I know that there are a lot of fancy workout bottoms patterns, with color blocking and interesting seaming. For my needs right now I don’t really have a need for those… They look awesome but I do notice then when I am out for a long walk and see others wearing them it just draws my eye to their legs and/or butt. Not really what I want!! LOL!! Also, in my mind less number of seams equals less possibilities for seams to rub somewhere.  Never say never – I may make a pair like that in the future!

I have worn each of these in at least one long 5 plus mile walk and for functional training workouts and have no problems! Everything is super comfortable and works perfect for my needs, no pulling, binding, twisting or any other uncomfortable issues to deal with! A big win in my book!!

Happy Sewing!!

Another quick win was a re-fashion that I did. I am not a big re-fashioner but I love the cut and fit of this dress but have always hated the soft lavender color on me. It was meant as a wearable muslin and figured if it didn’t work then it would be fine since the color sucked for me. Well, after 5 years of being worn I finally decided to fix that color and did my first ever RIT dye in the washing machine and now I LOVE IT!!

Friday, September 18, 2020

New Workout wear- Jalie Pika Bra/top and Cashmerette Saybrook Tank

Last year I decided that I really needed to up my game in the workout gear arena. This came about as I was upping my fitness for my trip to Paris. As some of my readers may know I have a medical condition, Chronic Pancreatitis, that when it decides to flair up it can knock me down and out for a long time. Literally taking my strength and endurance back to step one.


So, as I was upping my strength and endurance I really noticed that I had a need for more workout specific clothing. I did what any good sewist would do and started ‘collecting’ workout/exercise fabrics, patterns and books. I now have enough workout fabrics to sew myself a FULL wardrobe of exercise gear! LOL!!I know I am not alone in doing this….

I started off by identifying the types of exercise that I like to do or aspired to do.

Walking with a small amount of jogging thrown in from time to time, long walks/hikes. casual bike riding (meaning using Divvy Bike in Chicago and not owning my own performance bike) Strength training/functional training with dumbells, medicine balls and bands plus some yoga and active stretching. None of these really require any specialty clothing items and I am not doing any sustained high impact activities.

Next step was to get some inspiration. It’s great to have Instagram, Pinterest and Google Images for this part. SO much fun to go down the inspiration rabbit hole J

I then identified what items I wanted to make.

Sports Bras – tops – leggings (both full length and long shorts)

Considerations for my comfort was mostly around the fact that I don’t necessarily like my tush showing while exercising. Most times it is fine but living in a major city means that people will see me while outside and some guys are just crude… So, I decided that I wanted either tops that covered my tush, or an attached skirt or leggings that are patterned and fit well. I also wanted to make sure I had a pocket on my leg for my phone. This was a must for me.

For this blog post I am going to focus on the tops and the bra. Next blog will be for the bottoms.

Patterns:Sports bra/ bra top Jalie Pika #3679 Tank top: Saybrook tank by Cashmerette .

Fit Changes: The only changes that I made to the Pika was to shorten the Center Front length by 1 inch blending to nothing at the side seams.

Wearable muslin

Final version with shortened front

For the Cashmerette Saybrook tank I did make a swayback adjustment but did not add a center back seam so it was just a small one and I decided it was fine to have some extra fabric back there for my workout clothes.

Design Changes: None

Fabric: I used a variety of fabrics from different sources. Some were from my collection and other sources were: Fashion Fabrics Club, Blackbird Fabrics, Discovery Fabrics and J Stern Designs.

For the Pika Sports bra specifically I used the Power Mesh from Discovery Fabrics for the lining and it works perfect!! I specifically purchased the Power Mesh sampler pack to try it out. The main fabric of the sports bra were done with lycra stretch that I used for the bottoms. The straps were done with a variety of activewear fabrics to match the rest of the outfits.

Close up of the power mesh lining

The fabric for the tank tops was from a variety of sources and weights to try things out that I liked. All of them have stretch with lycra in them. The patterned fabric was from my collection and originally came from the Textile Warehouse in Chicago. The other 2 fabrics were from Fashion Fabrics Club.

3 version of Saybrook tank             

Close up of the reverse 3-thread coverstitch

Interfacing: none needed

Notions/Buttons/Zippers: Only notions needed for the Bra and Bra top was elastic. I used ¼ inch and 3/8 inch clear elastic and ¾ inch non-roll elastic. For applying the clear elastic to the Pika bra neckline and armholes I used a trick that I saw on the Fehrtrade blog about using the elastic foot on the serger with no tension. This really stremalines the process and cuts down on the time! it serges the pieces of fabric together AND applies the elastic at the same time! A big WIN in my book!

Elastic foot set up on my serger

View as you are sewing - the large circle in front is where the elastic goes in and the smaller circle in the back you can see the 4 thread overlocker stitches attaching the clear elastic and the fabric and self lining all together in one step.

Final product all in one! Even there is a slight gathering from the elastic once the top is on that completely goes away and is not noticeable.

Seam construction and seam finishes: I had some fun playing around with different techniques both on the sewing machine and the serger. I read 2 different books which I recommend as a good place to start. Sew Your Own Activewear by Melissa Fehr and Sewing Activewear by Johanna Lundstrom. I also watched a bunch of Gail Yellen’s Gail Patrice Design YouTube Serger and Coverstitch Tip Clips. (these are awesome!)

My first pass at the wearable muslins were done following directions on the patterns which were a combination of both sewing machine and serger/coverstitch. The subsequent versions were done all on the serger and coverstitch with some changes in construction order to facilitate the fact that I have a convertible machine that does both serger and coverstitch.

Hem Finishes: I also took this opportunity to play with these to find what I liked and did not like. I used both front and back coverstitch as finishes and I did some zig zag as well.

Thoughts on Pika bra and top. This is a perfect sports bra for me! I really like it and it gives me plenty of support and is quite comfortable. The top with integrated bra is fun as well and I don’t usually like an integrated bra but this one works for me. The main purple fabric is very lightweight and drapey and will be good for warm weather workouts!

Thoughts on the Saybrook Tank. I was a tester for this top and from the beginning I had thoughts on using it for activewear. I made several different versions, the high neck and high back both with and without the front knot as well as the V-neck with scoop back which is my favorite version. The fit is quite good and I will make more of these.

It is really fun to have a bunch of new workout gear!! Makes working out just a tad bit more fun.

Happy Sewing!!

This picture of the princess is just so beautiful! that smile and that hair... She fills my heart with joy. I Loved that she asked me to help her with bath time. She cant quite manage getting all the shampoo out of her hair by herself yet!