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A Summer Ensemble in Yellow Cotton

I’m not sure why, but this was a summer of yellow clothes for me. I made and adored this outfit (and then took forever to get photos onto the blog) which is obviously very yellow. And I wore any little bit of yellow I could find out of my existing wardrobe. And then bought a dozen yards of a yellow and white stripe knit that I’m sewing up as samples for a someday-to-be-released pattern. And I find this all very amusing because I’ve never actually liked yellow that much before (probably in good part because it’s honestly not the best color on me, but let’s not go there). The super-high-waist and crop top is a recurrent theme for me this summer too as I started the summer with my red and white versions of this same outfit (top is Simplicity 1426 and skirt is Simplicity 1166, both 1950’s re-released vintage …

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Presidio Purse Re-Release Testers

The pattern for the Presidio Purse didn’t change with the re-release, but the instructions underwent an overhaul so I wanted a new set of pattern testers to look at them with fresh eyes. I only had a few testers, but these ladies sure didn’t disappoint with their gorgeous bags! I wanted to thank them publicly for their helpful help and show off their beautiful bags! Kyla used an upholstery fabric with a heavy weight lining so she got a lot of structure without needing to interface the body. Her boyfriend also suggested another use for the purse – when she said it would be great for traveling he said “yea, and then you can stuff it and it will double as a pillow”. Ha! (Find Kyla on her blog). Anne used a corduroy outer (with piping all around, thanks to the sewalong instructions) and an upholstery weight lining so she …

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Pink Elephant Bonnel Dress

I adore this almost-finished dress, but it’s going to have to spend a bit of time in the naughty corner of my sewing room before I actually wear it. This dress is the Dixie DIY‘s most recent pattern, the Bonnel Dress, that I sewed out of some adorable pink elephant print cotton that I bought in Thailand. “Why the naughty corner? And why are you showing it to us now?” you might ask? I’m showing you my dress now because I’m helping to spread the love about the Sewing Indie Month Pattern Bundle 1 that’s for sale now until Wednesday, August 12th. It’s a bundle of patterns from independent sewing pattern designers. Including Dixie DIY,  Waffle Patterns, Jennifer Lauren Vintage Patterns, Muse Patterns, Sew House Seven, Blueprints for Sewing, Seamster Sewing Patterns, Lolita Patterns, True Bias, and Sew Over It. An awesome selection of patterns by an awesome selection of designers! Act fast since this awesome bundle doesn’t last …

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How to Sew a Swimsuit with a Skirted Bottom

Adding a skirt to the bottom of your swimsuit is a great way to give it a bit of personality while also adding a bit of coverage. You can customize the length from cheeky to modest and you can customize the fullness from girly to sporty. You can also easily add a skirt to a bikini bottom or splice it in to a full length suit. So many options! A circle skirt is a great option for the skirted portion of your swimsuit. A half-circle skirt will give you a sporty look (like this sample skirt) and a full circle skirt will give you a more ruffled look. Remember that there is a lot of negative ease in a swimsuit so the skirt fits you more snugly through the top several inches than it would if you were sewing a typical circle skirt. Remember also that the longer your skirt …

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Hack the Nautilus Bikini into a High Waist with Twists

At this point in the Swimsuit Sewalong, I’ve sewn a lot of swimsuits. And I think I must say that this hack makes this bikini bottom my favorite. While it’s super easy to turn a basic bikini bottom into a high waist pattern, it turns out that it’s a pretty simple hack to turn the Nautilus Swimsuit View B (the one with the cool twists on the bottom) into a high waist and keep the twists! Yes! Before you do this hack, you probably want to read through the sewalong for View A (the one piece) as the join from top front to top bottom around the twist is very similar to the join for this hack. The first decision you need to make is how much extra height you want to add to the pattern. As written, it’s low rise. I added 3″ to the finished suit to bring …

How to Turn a Swimsuit Pattern into a Tankini

There are many reasons why you might be drawn to a tankini swimsuit, from not having to worry about fitting the length, to the ability to mix and match bottoms, to just plain liking the style. It’s actually remarkably easy to turn a swimsuit pattern into a tankini – read on to learn how! Front: Starting with your swimsuit pattern, draw a line across the front of the suit where you want the bottom of the tankini to be. (Remember that it will end ~1/4 shorter than your line because you need to hem the suit). A good rule of thumb is to slice across where the suit cuts up to go over your hips, but it’s up to you if your personal preference is shorter or longer. You probably want a slight curve to the hem line. Back: Draw a line across the back of your suit that matches …

How to Use a Swimsuit Pattern to Sew Underwear

There are a lot of similarities between a pair of underwear and a bikini bottom, so why not use a sewing pattern for one to make the other? If you’ve got a swimsuit bottom that you like there’s no reason that you can’t use it to make a stack of underwear as well! I’ve put together a few things to keep in mind when doing so – pattern selection, fabric selection, and three different ways to finish the edges of your underwear. Fabric Selection: Swimsuit patterns are designed to be sewn with swimsuit fabrics which have some key characteristics: 4-way stretch, great recovery, and some heft. You clearly don’t want to sew your underwear out of swimsuit fabric, but when you pick a jersey, you should keep these characteristics in mind. You don’t need a 4-way stretch jersey, but you do want to make sure that your jersey has good stretch …

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High Waist Light Denim Jeans

The moment this denim arrived from Minerva Fabrics I knew that this project needed to jump ahead of my entire sewing queue because it was going to become the jeans that I had wanted since high school when I dreamed of being as effortlessly rock star as Gwen Stefani. (Okay, maybe a big part of it at the time was that I wanted to marry Gavin Rossdale myself.) I swear that I remember her wearing a similar pair and I totally ripped a picture of it out of a friend’s copy of Seventeen Magazine, although my googling abilities haven’t been able to find it again. I’m afraid that I look a little more Annie Hall than Gwen Stefani, but Annie Hall was sexy in her own right and I’m in love with these jeans regardless. I used Vogue v8201, an out of print pattern from 2006. I think I picked it …

How Hack a High Waist Swimsuit Bottom

High waist swimsuits are a fun way to bring a bit of retro styling to your swimwear. They’re also a great on-trend way to make your swimsuit just a bit more modest. It’s easy to hack your swimsuit pattern into a high-waist bikini bottom regardless of whether you’re starting from a one-piece pattern or a low rise bikini. If you’re starting from one piece pattern, it’s as simple as slicing across the pattern on the front and back pieces where you want the waist to be. The few things to keep in mind: Remember that you have to finish the top of the suit so cut it higher than you want the finished to be (or lower if you want to add a waistband). If you are attaching elastic and folding it to the inside (like most swimsuit finishing techniques) it will only change by 1/4″ but other techniques (like …

Nautilus Swimsuit Sewalong: View C

Sewing the Bikini Bottom for View C of the Nautilus Swimsuit is quick and easy. A nice wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am to finish off the swimsuit! If you’re sewing all of View C, start with sewing the top and attaching the straps and clasps because they have more detailed sewalong information. If you’re just sewing this bikini bottom, make sure you’ve read a few of the basic swimsuit sewing tutorials like how to choose swimsuit fabric, how to sew elastic to a swimsuit, and how to add a contrast or finished edge to a swimsuit. The following steps are numbered like they are in the illustrated instructions so you can compare back and forth. [115] & [117] Sew the Bottom Front to the Bottom Back, right sides together at the sides and crotch. [116] & [118] Sew the Bottom Front Lining and Bottom Back Lining, right sides together, at the sides and crotch. …

Nautilus Swimsuit View B

View B of the Nautilus Swimsuit is the bikini versions with sexy twists at hip bone that echo the twist in the center front of the bikini top. At this point in the sewalong you should have read through the various posts on swimsuit sewing techniques and have sewn the swimsuit top with its straps and closure. The steps below are numbered like they are in the written instructions so you can check back and forth. Sewing the twists onto the sides of the Bottom is just like sewing the twist at the center of the Top, so you might want to give the Top Sewalong instructions a quick read-over before sewing the top if you haven’t looked through them recently. [78] Sew the Bottom Front Facings to the Bottom Front Lining on either side, right sides together. Match the notches. When you sew, stop with the needle down at the center …

Installing a Swimsuit Hook and Straps

Sewing clasps and straps onto a swimsuit are often the final finishing touches. There both pretty easy but somehow it’s always the last steps that seem to never get done, or is that just me? While these photographs are from construction of the Nautilus Swimsuit, you can use the same techniques to sew a clasp and straps on to any swimsuit that hooks in the back and has straps that go over the shoulders. If you’re having a hard time sourcing swimsuit hooks, I can suggest 1″ metal clasps that are up for sale in my shop. Sewing a Swimsuit Clasp: Start by threading one arm of your suit back into the closed loop portion of your swimsuit hook. You want the hook to be pointing down. Depending upon the width of your back and the width of your clasp, you may have to gather your back a little in to the clasp. …

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How to Insert Bra Cups into a Swimsuit

Adding cups to a swimsuit pattern is actually an easy modification that can make your suit instantly more supportive and comfortable. It’s pretty easy to slip swimsuit or bra cups into a suit or with a bit more work you can even add a cup with an underwire! Choosing cups: There are many kinds of different bra cups out the biggest consideration you need to make is whether it’s the type of cup that is comfortable to you. You can buy softer cups that don’t give a lot of support but do provide a bit of modesty. Foam cups are a great choice for both support and modesty. If your foam cups aren’t specifically labeled for swimsuits, make sure that they don’t retain a lot of water like a sponge when they are wet! I find one of the best ways to source cups is to go to a thrift …

Nautilus Swimsuit Sewalong View A

All views of the Nautilus Swimsuit start the same, so if you haven’t already, go sew the steps in the Nautilus Swimsuit Top and then pop back on over here. The steps are numbered like they are in the illustrated instructions included with the pattern so you can go back and forth between them as you see fit. [47] Sew the Bottom Front to the Bottom Back along the sides, right sides together. [48] Sew the Bottom Front Lining to the Bottom Back Lining along the sides, right sides together. [49] Pin the Bottom Front to the Bottom Front Lining, right sides together, with the Top in between.  You want the side seams to match and the notches on the Bottom Front to match those on the Bottom Front lining and to line up with the seam between the Top Front Facing and Top Front Lining on the Top. The right …

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How to Add a Contrast or Finished Edge to a Swimsuit

The standard for both ready-to-wear and handmade swimsuits is to sew elastic to the inside, fold it over, and sew another line of stitching to keep it in place. For an alternative, you can add a bit of extra pizzazz to your suit with a contrast edging using one of two different techniques – fabric strips or fold over elastic. Additionally, you can use either technique to get a much cleaner finish on the inside than you can with the traditional technique. Before getting started with this finished edge tutorial, make sure you have read How to Sew Elastic to a Swimsuit. Note: Both of these techniques increases the size of each finished piece when compared to the traditional way of folding the elastic to the inside. Why is that? You lose 1/4″ from every edge when you fold the elastic to the inside. When you use the fabric strip …

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Sewing Elastic to a Swimsuit

For most swimsuits, ready-to-wear or handmade, the edges of the swimsuit are stabilized and finished with elastic. The elastic is sewn to the inside of the suit and then folded over and topstitched. It’s really quite simple to do and with a few extra tips and tricks, you can have a perfectly awesome elastic insertion on your own swimsuit! Stitches: When you sew the elastic to the inside of your swimsuit, you should use a wide zig-zag. If you have a stretch zig-zag stitch on your machine, this is a great place to use it. If not, use your normal zig-zag on its widest setting. This will securely attach the elastic to the suit and allow it to stretch. When you fold the elastic over, you can use the same wide zig-zag, a narrower zig-zag, or a straight stretch stitch (also called a lightning stitch) depending upon how you want …

Sewing the Nautilus Swimsuit Top

With information on selecting swimsuit fabric, swimsuit pattern size, and grading/fitting a swimsuit pattern under our belts, lets jump in to sewing the Nautilus Swimsuit! This part of the sewalong will take us through sewing most of the Top which is the same for Views A, B & C. The steps are numbered like they are in the illustrated instructions included with the pattern so you can go back and forth between them as you see fit. [8] Take the Top Front Facing and place it right sides together against the Top Front Lining. You will be matching a single notch to do this. Sew until you have reached the center point of the V – this is a convex point on the Facing and a concave point on the Lining. With your needle down, pivot the fabric so that it lines up for the rest of the seam and finihs …

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Fitting & Grading the Nautilus Swimsuit

The principles of fitting and grading any swimsuit are pretty similar, so no matter what pattern you are using, you’ll hopefully find some helpful information to fit and grade any swimsuit sewing pattern amongst the specific example of the Nautilus Swimsuit. Before you start any fitting and grading, make sure you are starting with the best base size by reading How to Choose a Swimsuit Pattern Size. Cup Size: The Nautilus Swimsuit pattern has 4 different cup size options ranging from AA to DD+. Measure the difference between your full bust and your under bust to get your suggested size. 0-1″ = AA, 1-3″ = A/B, 3-5″ = C/D, and >5″ = DD+. However, this is just a starting point (like any other sizing) and you will want to make a muslin to determine that you are getting a proper fit. What might cause the wrong fit? The cups on …

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How to Choose a Size on a Swimsuit Pattern

When I’m sewing a pattern that I haven’t sewn before, I usually jump straight to the pattern pieces and measure the high bust and the hip to choose what size I will sew. Patterns often don’t list their finished measurements and sizing charts often don’t say how much ease they include but a pattern piece reveals all. However, this technique falls apart when selecting a swimsuit size for many reasons. Below, I’ll detail these reasons and explain what to consider instead so that you can best select the size of your swimsuit sewing pattern. Note: Like any sewing pattern, when sewing a swimsuit you can have a pretty good guess about the right size to start with, but you are well served to make a muslin and use that to fit adjustments specific to your body. Ease: For fitted garments with stretch, 0-2 inches of negative ease gives a pretty …

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Vintage Chicken Tea Cozy and Some Pot Holders

I really needed some oven mitts and pot holders for our new kitchen. I used the scraps from the strawberries and gingham dress I just made as well as some pink hand dyed fabric that was my grandmother’s. (The square potholders also got the scraps of the black floral lining from my first presidio purse demo).  The edges are finished with red bias tape from my stash and they are interlined with two layers of interfacing – some basic cotton batting and insul-bright insulated lining. Cute, easy, and functional. I was talking with my mom the other day and said “I don’t really like kitsch” and she laughed in my face. So I had to amend my statement. “I’m very selective about my kitsch.” This scrappy chicken tea cozy in pink and red and strawberries and gingham? My kind of kitsch. Since I was sewing up the potholders I kinda …

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How to Choose Swimsuit Fabric

With all of the amazing looking swimsuit fabrics out there, it can be a bit intimidating to actually choose a fabric. “What are the kind of things to look for when I buy swimsuit fabric?” you might be asking. Well, have no fear – I’m here to tell you! At least I’m here to show you the sorts of things that I look for when I buy swimsuit fabric. If there’s something you look for that I haven’t included, please chime in in the comments! Fiber Content: The first thing that I look for is fiber content. Note that there can be a fair bit of variety in the names used to label the synthetic fibers and many of them mean the same thing. Swimsuit fabric is almost always 80-90% polyamid, polyester, nylon, or another similar synthetic fiber. The other 10-20% is spandex, lycra, or elastane (all of which are …

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Pattern Testers for the Nautilus Swimsuit

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 Nautilus Swimsuit and I’m honored to share some of their gorgeous creations (and to hand out completely arbitrary and useless awards to thank them!). (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!) Mariah of Blackberry Jamble wins most classic for her cute black and white polka dot. (I made some of my initial samples in the same fabric!) She said after taking …

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Strawberries and Gingham Vintageish Sundress

So here’s a hypothetical question for y’all – where’s the line for calling something vintage? Or even vintage inspired? Because I just drafted this dress (and it’s 2015, in case you forgot) but it strikes me as 70’s does 50’s. As I was working on this dress I realized that with every decision that I made it looked more and more like Vintage Simplicity pattern 6926, from 1976, that I used on my Southwest Eyeblinder Dress. I pleated a dirdnl style skirt instead of a 4-panel A-line and I pleated the ruffle instead of gathering it which give it more of a 50’s feel. Oh yeah, and I added a waistband. And the straps are different. So I guess that just means that what’s similar is the fact that it’s a sundress with a princess seam bodice that dips down a little in the back. Is this dress a modern …

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Pink Anchor Dress I Will Never Wear

I guess the title kinda gives away the punchline, no? I do adore the dress in the photo above. But before I zoom in on its faults, let me step back a bit and tell you why I sewed this dress. Everyone has their least favorite tasks when sewing. Many people complain about cutting fabric, which I actually happen to love. My least favorite part of sewing is fitting. I do not have a straight-from-the-envelope body which is one of the major reasons I started sewing, so I spend a fair bit of time fitting every new pattern that I sew. I also tend to sew a pattern once and, even if I love it, never get around to a next time. Well, recently I had this revelation that if I sewed a pattern more than once, I wouldn’t have to spend time fitting it on any future versions. Duh! …

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Happy Hippo Dress

I know that just about every time I sew a new dress I go on about how it’s my favorite. And I totally recognize that the sillier the fabric I use for the dress is, the more I rave about how it’s going to be a wardrobe staple (e.g. my Farm Animals dress, Southwest Eyeblinder dress, or Baseball Staple dress). And, recognizing my behavior patterns, I’m going to repeat them. Because OMG look at this dress! It’s my new favorite thing and I’m going to wear it all the time!! For serious! So where do I find all this amazing/ridiculous/awesome fabric? The thrift store. All of those amazing/ridiculous/awesome dresses were sewn from fabric I bought at the thrift store, most from Granny’s Attic, the thrift store on my island. When I lived in San Francisco I didn’t have nearly such good luck finding awesome fabrics at thrift stores because everything was …

How to Turn a Soccer Jersey into a Bike Jersey

If you’re a member of my family, summer means bike rides. Well, to be perfectly honest, summer means not having to ride your bike in the rain, because riding happens year-round. So summer means even more bike rides and we are all gearing up for the start of summer and the (continuation) of bike rides! My stepdad recently asked me to help convert some of his old soccer (or football since he’s a Brit) jerseys into bike jerseys so that he could get more wear out of them since you’d be hard pressed to find him on a soccer field and hard pressed to find a day that he’s not on his bicycle. You need:  – a soccer jersey (or any other type of sport shirt that breathes. Shirts from ultimate frisbee, marathon running or American football will work just as well). The shirt should be fairly fitted. – a rectangle …

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Red & White & Retro Summer Outfit

We’ve had some sunshine and warm weather the last few days that make it feel like summer is definitely on it’s way, and I can think of no better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than with this sunny outfit! I sewed the outfit from vintage reproduction patterns from the 1950’s – Simplicity 1426 and Simplicity 1166. The fabric was provided by Minerva Crafts for being a part of their blogging network. I made the top from a lovely polka dot print cotton poplin. The poplin isn’t opaque, so I lined it with a white muslin since if I self-lined it, the polka dots would have showed through. I made the skirt from a solid cotton poplin. The color was called “claret” which I think is a good description of the true color, although I was hoping it would turn out a bit more true red like the polka-dots since …

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One Hour Halter in Sew News June/July 2015

My super fast, super easy, and super cute (if I do say so myself) one hour halter pattern is in Sew News magazine this June/July. One of the perks about needing to sew samples for magazine articles is getting to keep the finished garments, and since magazines run on such long lag times, it feels like Christmas when they come back to me – since I’ve just about forgotten them it’s like they’re brand new to me! The color of the sample on the model doesn’t look great on me but it’s good on my mom so she’s a happy recipient of that one (as well as both tunics from my last Sew News article. Lucky mom!). I’m digging the fact that I have a metallic gold version for myself now – I just have to actually go out some evening so I get the chance to wear it! I …

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SATC Skirt

I’m calling this skirt Silliness and the City (or SATC for short). Because clearly, the thing that I needed in my wardrobe to prepare for a week spent in New York City is a puffy fuchsia tulle skirt. I wore it almost every day and absolutely adored it. It’s the perfect wardrobe staple that carries from daytime wear with a t-shirt and slip-ons to a night on the town with a sexy top and heels. Okay, I understand it’s not a wardrobe staple for everyone, but for me, this is gonna be a workhorse! The fabric was given to me by White Tree Fabrics. It’s a circle skirt with a bottom layer of cerise poly satin and 5 layers of tulle (what they call hexagon pure net) on top. White Tree has an overwhelming selection of nets, but I emailed with them about what I wanted to sew and what …

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Stretch Denim Capris

Only fellow sewists would understand the reason why I sewed these capris – I wanted to work on my crotch. Most of my sewing projects are inspired by certain fabric or a certain pattern that simply must become a garment I can wear. Occasionally I recognize a gap in my wardrobe and seek to fill it. In this case, it wasn’t so much inspiration or even a need for the capris as a desire to put the dreaded crotch curve in its place that drove my sewing. The couple of times that I’ve sewn stretch denim jeans I wasn’t terribly happy with the crotch curve, especially the front crotch curve (first with my vivacious pink jeans and then my giant cuffed gingers). I think it comes down to being afraid of over-fitting, but if I try on the couple pairs of RTW jeans I have that sorta fit, I have …