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How to Sew French Seams

Haven’t sewn French seams before? You might be wondering: What is a French seam? A French seam is a seam finish that makes a narrow seam that fully encloses the seam allowance in the seam. Why use a French seam? It’s a great seam to use on woven fabrics that are sheer, delicate, or prone to fraying. It’s subtle, unlike a serged seam. Can you sew a French seam on a curve? Yes! Though you will find that the narrower your finished seam is the less it will pull on the curve and that the softer your curve is the easier it is to sew the French seam. How wide is a French seam allowance? A French seam is sewn in two steps and involves trimming of the seam allowance so you can start with whatever seam allowance you want and finish with a French seam of whatever size you …

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Denim Shorts with Patch Pockets

I’ve never really been a shorts kinda gal. I’d rather rock a miniskirt. But as I get used to sewing for my post-baby crotch, shorts seemed like a good place to start. No, this isn’t the start of an overshare, but rather a discussion of the bane of many sewists existence – the dreaded crotch curve. Pre-baby I had quite a flat stomach and a full (though low) derrière but eventually worked out a pretty good fitted pants block that accounted for my body’s unique shape. And then I had a baby. And now I have no butt and a definite curve to my belly. So it’s back to the drawing board on crotch fitting. I figured shorts would waste less fabric if it was a flop. And of course it’s been summer so shorts seem fitting (haha, that’s a pun). I didn’t make these shorts skin tight as I …

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Susan Khalje Couture Sewing School Review

Last month I attended Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School. I first heard about Susan’s classes when Melanie (a.k.a. Poppykettle) took her classes and blogged about them back in 2013. I’ve been fantasizing about taking one ever since. Though Susan is perhaps best know for her French Jacket classes (where each person sews a Chanel style jacket), her Couture Sewing School is a much more flexible class where each sewist brings her own, unique project and works on it over the course of the week. Since the description of the class is pretty much “show up and sew something” I thought it might interest others to hear a personal account of what the week was like. The first day we all had our muslins fit. It was quite interesting to see as each woman brought a very different project though a bit hard to learn by observing since there were so …

5 Tips for Sewing a Lace Back Shirt

If you’re wondering how to sew a shirt with lace fabric in the back (like this example) or really any garment that uses lace for part of the garment, then I’ve got a few tips for you! This example is an Ultraviolet Tee sewn out of a lightweight knit front with a loosely woven lace back, but you can use these same tips to combine lace and woven or knit fabric in so many different creative ways. 1. Consider your pattern. You’ll find it easiest to sew and get the cleanest results if you select a pattern that has the fewest seamlines in the section that you would like to be lace. Each seamline is a place where you need to finish or hide the edges of the lace (since you can see through the lace to see the seam allowance on the inside) so the fewer times you need …

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A Very Me Garment: Denim Mini Skirt

This blog post isn’t really about showing off my awesome sewing since the denim miniskirt I hacked out of an old pair of my husband’s worn out jeans took me less than an hour to sew. But I do think it’s worth sharing since the skirt feels so very me. I’ve been trying to re-figure out what exactly my style is for quite a while now. I feel like my strong sense of self identity was eroded away as my self-confidence and happiness were eroded away over too many years in graduate school. And then I started to figure some things out but then I had a baby which meant dramatic changes to my body. So I’m (mostly) back to a place of feeling self-confident and comfortable in my body, but my wardrobe hasn’t caught up. I went through the curated closet and I now have a much more cohesive …

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How to Sew a Neckline with Bias Tape

Bias tape is a lovely way to cleanly finished necklines on woven garments. They aren’t hard to sew, they just require some attention to detail and I’ll walk you through those details step by step! These same instructions can be used to finish any garment opening so if you are wondering how to sew an armhole with bias tape or how to sew a hem with bias tape, keep reading! If the pattern you are using doesn’t have a template for your bias strip or instructions on how long to cut the bias tape, carefully measure the opening on your garment. Remember to measure on your seamline (which in this case will be 1/4″ in from the edge of the fabric) and not on the edge of your fabric. Use the very edge of your tape measure to measure the distance instead of laying it flat. Cut your fabric the …

Boho Kimono (Ultraviolet Tee Hack)

The era of my life where summers were all about music festivals is over, but I hope I’ll never be too old to enjoy setting up some portable speakers and having a private dance party in my garden. Of course one must dress for the occasion (even if it’s a rather small affair), so I whipped up this little kimono style topper using a hack of my Ultraviolet Tee pattern. I used a lightweight floral print poly that I originally intended to be for purse linings (and has actually lined a few Presidio Purses I’ve made) but it was the lightest floatiest thing I had in my stash and it just seemed to fit the bill. I figured it wouldn’t get too sweaty since the topper is so loose and open. To hack your own, take the Front pattern piece and draw a line straight from the edge of the …

That Sewing Blab

When I get together with sewing friends I talk a lot. I mean, I generally talk a lot no matter the subject material, but I definitely talk a lot when sewing is involved! Last week I was the guest on That Sewing Blab, a live internet show that runs every week. It’s hosted by my new friends (it’s pretty easy to make quick friends out of other sewists!) Dawn of Duelling Designs and Myra of 1 Simple Inspiration. They’re both delightful ladies and inspiring sewists and really great interviewers! On the show I talked a lot (no surprises there!) and we covered a broad range of topics from my mission, to my travels, my favorite makes. I talked about what it means to me to play dress up, how I end up with an overflowing fabric stash, and how my handmade clothing and my tattoos are great conversation starters. There …

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Simple Summer Linen Dress

Isn’t it delightful when a few different long-percolating ideas can come together? I’ve had this lovely embroidered linen in my stash for a bit. It was a gift from a friend who bought it for me at Mood when she was in New York last year (or the year before?). She was texting me photos while she was there and I thought it was just to share the excitement but much to my delight one of the cuts of fabric made it my way! I knew that it needed to be a simple garment since pattern matching was not going to be possible given the irregularity of the embroidery and the amount of fabric I had. After releasing my Ultraviolet Tee I brainstormed a list of ways I could hack the pattern and turning it into a dress was definitely on the list. I browsed through my wall of fabric …

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My Sewing Room

My sewing room. My office. My studio. Whatever I call it, here she is. It’s so nice to have my own space and now, two years since we moved here, I think it’s pretty close to done. Of course I’m always adding new bits and bobs and shuffling small things around, but the bones are in place I feel really good about my own little corner of our home. I though it would be fun to show it off! Starting with facing my sewing table. I often have another machine (or two) up on the table but you’ll almost always find the Pfaff I bought in high school and my old serger. Both are due for an upgrade, but they still work. I was pretty excited about finding this drawer set at the thrift store. A quick coat of yellow spray paint and it’s good to go and great for …

EaseIntoMotherhood Summary and Themes

I knew that having a community is important. The sewing community has been a great source of inspiration, encouragement, and support for me since I started blogging almost 10 years ago. Most of that connection has come through what we obviously have in common – sewing. But it has been in times of struggle that I’ve learned I have a lot more in common with members of my community than just sewing. When I was in graduate school and struggling I reached out to other sewists who had made it through grad school themselves and by sharing their stories I gained strength to push through. In this last year, my first year as a parent, I was met with the biggest challenge I have yet faced. But in my sewing community I found support yet again. Jodi, Monserratt, and I conspired to get other parents to share their stories through …

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Workout Clothes for Boxing

I’ve taken up boxing. This winter was a dark time for me and starting in early spring I knew I needed to do what I could to help myself get out of it. One of the things that I know helps me when I’m struggling with depression is to be more physically active. Of course the worse I’m feeling the less I want to exercise, so I knew I needed to find an exercise class that I would enjoy to help give me that extra push since I just didn’t see getting into a routine again on my own. There aren’t a whole lot of options since I live on an island, but I knew there was a small studio I liked since I had enjoyed classes there before I got pregnant. There was one class that wasn’t full and was scheduled when I regularly have childcare so I decided …

Lengthening the Ultraviolet Tee (High Drama Option 2)

With just a little bit more work (than the standard easy way to lengthen the Ultraviolet Tee) you can have a shirt that is high drama. By keeping the side the same length but lengthening the scoop on the front and back, you get belly and bum coverage with quite a bit of sexy sass. To make the high-drama lengthening, draw a new lengthen line through the middle of the curve at the bottom (instead of using the one that is included with the pattern) (Step 1). Cut the Front and Back pieces through the line and separate them your desired length (the example shown is 2-3″) (Step 2). Redraw the curve by gently connecting the point an inch above the cut to an inch below the cut (Step 3). Remember that you use the circle to match the side seams and you want the center front of your shirt to …

Lengthening the Ultraviolet Tee (option 1)

If you’re not keen on the “slightly cropped” aspect of View A of the Ultraviolet Tee (or if you have a particularly long torso) but you want to keep the gentle curve on the front and back and the scoop on the side, this is how you go about lengthening your pattern pieces. This is also the same process for lengthening View B. Since the pattern pieces are essentially straight at the sides, it’s just about as easy as can be to make the pattern longer. 1 – Cut the pattern along the lengthen/shorten line on both the Front and Back. 2 – Separate the pattern pieces the amount you would like to lengthen the shirt. 2-3 inches will bring the shirt down to a non-cropped length (like the sample shirt pictured in this post). 3 – Connect the pattern pieces and fill in the gap.

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Ultraviolet Tee Testers

The most satisfying and inspiring part of any pattern release is seeing it made up by other women! It is so fun to see a collection of different women using different fabric and making different design decisions, all from the same pattern. I was fortunate to have an amazing, inspiring, creative assortment of women that tested the Ultraviolet Tee and I’m honored to share some of their gorgeous creations and their thoughts on the pattern! (Extra special thanks to the first three ladies below for being my cover models!) “Love this pattern and it’s a welcome addition to my wardrobe! Oversized crop top that I can throw on with some jeans and still look put together and a bit sexy.” (Find Martha on Instagram) “I would make this again! It is relatively quick and easy, so I would definitely recommend it.” (Find Mary on Instagram) “The mold is simple, minimalist …

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Ease Into Motherhood Week 1 Summary

The conversation about sewing, creativity, self-care, and motherhood is off to an inspiring start this month (pop over here to read what Ease Into Motherhood is about if you missed it). I wrote about my journey back to self love after baby through sewing. I also released a new pattern that is a love letter to my mom belly. Jodi wrote about how “bouncing back” isn’t a good goal since it takes away from the importance of the experience you’re trying to “bounce back” from. Monseratt wrote about how motherhood has affected her friendships and showed off some cute baby clothes. Cindy wrote about how she has made time for herself and creativity since having a child and how it was a bumpy journey to get to this point. Rebecca wrote about how life got easier after she “eased in” to motherhood and how motherhood brought sewing into her life. …

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Introducing the Ultraviolet Tee

The Ultraviolet Tee will be an everday staple of your summer like the UV rays from summer sunshine. Oversized with short cut-on sleeves, the shirt can be sewn from knits or wovens. View A is slightly cropped and has a curved hem that meets sharp and high on the side and has a subtle high-low shape from front to back. Wear over a camisole, with high-waisted shorts, or enjoy showing a little peek of skin as you move around. View B is standard shirt length and has a straight hem. Available in 2 cup size options: A-C (dartless) or D-F (darted/gathered) and with an optional pocket. Fully illustrated step-by-step instructions provide separate construction information for wovens and knits. What features make the Ultraviolet Tee special? Size range from 0-24 (high bust of 32″-52″) Two separate cup size ranges (A-C or D-F) Two different hem options (curved or straight) Separate pattern …

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Sewing My Way Back to Self-Love After Baby

In pretty much all aspects of my life things are so different that I almost forget what it was like before having a baby. But we’re here to talk about sewing, so lets do that. My journey back to sewing is also a journey back to self-love, much like my original journey to sewing. The first three months after Evie was born were a blur. I know, everybody says that. But I can’t come up with any better words to describe it and it’s one of those things that you’ll never really understand until you’ve lived through it, I guess. I certainly didn’t. I was sick my whole pregnancy and Evie’s birth was traumatic so we had no reserves when she arrived. But I did get into my sewing room for tiny stretches at a time. I swaddled Evie against my chest for a nap or put her bassinet next …

How to Sew the Soft V Neck on the Laminaria Swimsuit

The soft V neck on the Laminaria Swimsuit is really easy to sew and gives you results that are almost as nice as the sharp V neck, so if you’re not looking to give yourself an extra challenge, this is the way to go. Cut your elastic to the length described in the instructions. Mark the center of the elastic with a pen. You can go ahead and write with a ball-point pen or permanent marker (instead of a wash-away marker) since it won’t be seen in the finished suit. Pin the elastic to the inside of the suit. I like to use pins horizontally so I can take them out as I sew. The elastic is the same length as the fabric here so no need to stretch or gather anything. Make sure that your center mark aligns with the center of the V. The exact position of the …

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Ease Into Motherhood

I think it’s important to talk about things that are hard. By sharing struggles we gain strength from knowing we’re not alone, that others have the same struggles and that we can make it through them. When I was struggling in graduate school, I gathered the stories of other sewists who had made it through and found strength in sharing their struggles and successes. Now I’m at the start of a new challenge/adventure – motherhood – and I’ve joined with some sewist friends to talk about our experiences. We’ll be sharing our stories throughout the month of July and we’d love to have you join us. Ease In to Motherhood is a sewists’ celebration of motherhood and the changes it brings to our lives. During the month of July, we invite you to share your experiences of the physical and mental changes of pregnancy, childbirth and/or any other way a …

How to Sew Narrow Swimsuit Straps

There’s something ever so satisfying about a crisp little spaghetti strap. Did you know that narrow swimsuit straps are actually really easy to sew? It’s true! Both 1/4″ and 3/8″ spaghetti straps for swimsuits are deceptively easy because we can sew them around the right size elastic for crisp perfection! Start by cutting a strip of your swimsuit fabric that is 1.5″ wide (works for either 1/4″ or 3/8″ elastic. You can use the same technique for wider elastic to make wider straps though you will need wider fabric strips to start). You can sew a single strap that is twice the length of your finished strap and cut it in half when you are done. Align your elastic to one long edge of your strap on the wrong side of the fabric. You can pin it in place before sewing if you prefer or just feed it carefully as …

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How to Sew the Laminaria Swimsuit with a Mesh Insert

When I was designing the Laminaria Swimsuit I intentionally placed the contrast insets such that they could be sewn in mesh without the swimsuit becoming scandalous. The easiest way to do so is to use mesh for the inserts in View A and use a mesh or skin color lining. However if you take the easy approach your seam allowances may be visible at the edges of your mesh. If you want to guarantee that the mesh looks as clean as possible there are a few changes that you need to make to cutting and construction. They’re not technically challenging but they do require understanding the suit construction so I’d strongly recommend sewing the suit with a standard inset following the normal directions once before attempting mesh. Start by cutting View A out of your fabric using mesh for the inserts. Instead of a full lining, you will cut the lining out of …

How to Sew the Sharp V Neck on the Laminaria Swimsuit

The sharp V neck on the Laminaria swimsuit is a bit tricky to sew. I recommend trying it at least once on a scrap of fabric before you do it on your actual swimsuit. If you find this too hard or don’t want to bother you can always sew the soft V neck instead! So why are we even doing all these weird fussy steps? It effectively adds a seam allowance to the center front V so that you can sew elastic to the edge and turn it to the inside without stretching the center front. The first step is to stabilize the center of the V. If you already basted the body to the lining along the center front that should be enough. If you haven’t, sew for a few inches on either side of the center V 1/4″ from the edge using a straight stitch and pivoting at the …

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Evelyn Rose’s Nursery

As much as I might have had fun gathering inspirational images of the perfect nursery while I was pregnant, when it came down to it, I didn’t have the energy for much of any follow through. And since then? There’s always been something higher on the priority list. But that’s okay. Evie’s got a cute little nursery and while it may not make it into any magazines, it makes her happy, and that’s what matters. Of course it only took me a year to finish it. Ha! You’d think it wouldn’t take so long since the room is tiny. It’s actually just the second closet in our bedroom but it’s been perfect for use as a nursery. (Evie will move downstairs to an actual bedroom at some point in the future.) In my defense, the room has been essentially done since Evie was a couple of months old. There was …

How to Attach the Laminaria Swimsuit Straps

The Laminaria Swimsuit really can be sewn by a confident beginner sewist. I have a selection of photo and video tutorials to give an added boost of confidence. Today, I’ll show you all the steps involved in attaching the straps to the front and back of the suit. I’m showing the steps out of order but clustered by back and front strap attachment so that you can understand the process to the finished swimsuit which should hopefully make the steps intuitive when you reach them in the instructions. Remember, there are 3 options for how you attach your straps. If you want them to go straight in the back or cross in the back, start by attaching the straps to the back of the suit. If you want halter ties, skip over the back attachment steps and only attach them at the front. BACK: In steps 36/37 we pin and baste the …

Shortening/Lengthening the Laminaria Swimsuit

One of the coolest things about sewing your own swimsuit is that you can make the torso the right length. As a tall gal, 1 piece swimsuits have always been my nemesis as there’s nothing worse than rocking a wedgie every time you put on your swimsuit. The Laminaria swimsuit has printed shorten/lengthen lines on the pattern pieces to make shortening and lengthening easy. How can you tell if you need to add/remove length from your swimsuit? The size chart tells you the crotch length that the pattern is designed for which is average for an average height woman (5’6″). If you need more/less length in ready-two-wear swimsuits, you’ll probably want more/less in this swimsuit. However, the only way to tell for sure is to make a muslin out of the same fabric that you will be using for your final suit as small differences in horizontal and especially vertical stretch …

Laminaria Swimsuit Pattern Testers

The most satisfying and inspiring part of any pattern release is seeing it made up by other women! It is so fun to see a collection of different women using different fabric and making different design decisions, all from the same pattern. I was fortunate to have an amazing, inspiring, creative assortment of women that tested the Laminaria Swimsuit and I’m honored to share some of their gorgeous creations and their thoughts on the pattern! (Because this pattern is a swimsuit there were quite a number of women that asked not to be included in this post – they know who they are and I am just as thankful to them for their help!) One thing to note – you may notice that the larger sizes show off more cleavage than the smaller sizes regardless of cup size. The final pattern was regraded across the top range of sizes to fix …

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Introducing the Laminaria Swimsuit!

Introducing…the Laminaria Swimsuit! It’s a one piece swimsuit with a sinuous inset panel that wraps around the body like its namesake kelp. The pattern is fully lined and comes with 2 different cup size options (A-C cup or D-F cup) to make fitting a breeze. View A has decorative inset panels while View B is plain. Either can be sewed with a sharp V neck or an easier to sew rounded V neckline. Instructions are included for optional cup insertion. The straps can be tied around the neck halter style or can be attached to the back either straight down or crossed across the back. And in further exciting news, the pdf pattern is a layered pattern AND it’s also available in print! Buy the Pattern Now Laminaria is the scientific name for kelp (referring to the order Laminariales, family Laminariaciae, or genus Laminaria). When developing the swimsuit, I pictured …

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How to Print a Layered PDF Sewing Pattern

From here on out, SeamstressErin Designs patterns are being published as layered pdfs (wahoo!). What does this mean? It means that each size is on a different layer so that you can select only the size you want to sew for printing. You can also select a cluster of sizes in case you need to grade between sizes or even two totally different sizes if you want to print out your size and your best friend’s size at the same time! Why bother, you might be asking? Of course you can still print all of the sizes like before (pattern pieces are still nested). But you might find it handy to print fewer sizes at a time because the markings on nested patterns can get a bit hard to discern, especially on small pattern pieces. Start by opening your pattern in Adobe Reader. (There are many different programs that open …

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Rainbow Raindrops Waterproof Minoru Raincoat

I live in the Seattle area. You may not have heard this about Seattle, but it rains a fair bit here (ha!). In fact we broke rain records yet again this year so a raincoat is a timely project. Of course I finished it just in time for May flowers instead of April showers (or all winter long incessant drizzle as the case may be). But I can promise you that this raincoat will be getting plenty of wear over the years. Though I didn’t finish many projects this winter, I really took my time with what I did sew to make them as perfect as possible with deluxe fabrics and this coat is no exception (my wool & silk Fumettere and quilted velvet puffer vest being prime examples of what I mean). I used Sewaholic’s Minoru pattern (that I’ve had and been meaning to sew since it came out …