Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Make Your Own Knit Fabric Nightgown & Pattern

As part of my stash-busting & work "smarter not harder" approach to sewing this year, I've challenged myself to re-invent patterns and see just how versatile I can be with minimal things.  Today's project, thKnit Fabric Nightgown, is the start of my effort to DIY a basic pattern. I'm calling this my Lots of Looks For Knits Pattern, and it can used to make loads of different styles.  You don't need super drafting skills to make one either!

This first variation is an easy pull-on nightdress.  Technically this could also double as a flowy day dress, but by using a knit with loads of stretch, it's comfy feel and soft neck & cuffs are ideal for sleep time.  I'm not a fan of the girl's flame-retardant polyester nightgowns sold in stores.  The pajamas I wear aren't drenched in questionable chemicals, so I don't like my sensitive skinned kids in them either. 

I bought this cotton blend knit last year in Canada at Fabricland.  I loved the vintage sweets print and thought it would be perfect for Valentine's Day with it's red & pink colors and conversation hearts:

Some red rib knit from my stash gives an ideal trim to the neck and fold-over cuffs:

Making the pattern: For the pattern I started with making a basic body piece using a good-fitting knit shirt folded in half as my size and shape guide. I did a single piece for both front & back - just different neckline cuts, but extended the length to be a dress instead of top and then gave it an A-line shape by flaring it out with a yard stick.  

I also made sure when tracing around the armscye part I tweaked it so the front and back curves were the same. That made drawing the curved portion of the sleeve pattern very simple using my design ruler (more on this handy tool here).  I just did straight sides, since my sleeve with gather at the cuff.  If you're a bit intimidated by drafting the sleeve part, use an old shirt you can pick apart at the seams and then use the separate sleeve as a trace guide.  

I laid out my pattern with the back insert piece along my fabric while folded and weighed it down instead of pinning to save time:

I repeated this with the insert removed for my front piece and then cut out both sleeves, but made them about 4 inches shorter since I'd be adding cuffs.

I started with attaching the front and back pieces at the shoulders.  My fabric had a lot of stretch and medium weight. I was concerned the weight might pull too much at the seams, so before I stitched, I added a small strip of fusible stabilizer:

I used my handy, knit-favorite, triple stitch (more on that stitch here) and a 3/8 inch seam allowance.  I also used a walking foot to keep the fabric from shifting - another of my sewing with knits favorites.  I also top stitched along the seam, making sure to catch the seam allowance underneath, to add some extra stabilizing:

To determine my neckline ribbing length I measured the neck hole, which was 16 inches, and then cut a strip of rib knit that was the same length and 2 inches high. I don't add any seam allowance in order to make the ribbing is slightly smaller. Then it would curve a bit when sewn and not stick up.

I stitched the short ends together (right sides facing).

Then, centering the seam on the center back of the nightgown, I pinned the neckband along the neck hole of the gown, right sides facing and then stitched with a 5/8 seam allowance.

I pressed the ribbing upward, using a tailor's ham to better curve it in shape and then folded it over the raw edge (going to the wrong side) and pressed it in in place.

After pinning, I topstitched the neck band down just along the seam.  

I don't attempt to fold the raw edge under on the wrong side because 1. knit doesn't fray so it's not necessary and 2. I've always found the bulk of folding it under just messes up my topstitching and it never looks even, nice or any more "professional" on the wrong side than just trimming down the raw edge.  

Then I pinned the sides together and stitched down from sleeve edge down to hem.  For the cuffs, I cut my rib knit 8 inches wide by 6 inches high for each cuff.  I folded each one width-wise, and stitched down the side.  I like to trim down my seams with pinking shears to reduce bulk.

Then I opened them up and folded each with wrong sides together and then pinned the raw edges along the raw edge of the sleeve edge of the dress.  Since the cuff is smaller so that the sleeve will have some gather, I matching seams and marked both my sleeve and the cuffs into quarters, and then stitched together, pulling the cuff to stretch to the length of the sleeve fabric.

Then I trimmed my seam allowances down and pulled my lovely cuffs out:

As usual when I sew with knits, I used my paper backed fusible tape ironed onto the wrong side of the raw hem, then folded up and pressed.  Added bonus is that when using a single fold, there's no need for pins since it's fused in place!

My last step was topstitching with a twin needle to do a professional-look hem.

The real test was whether or not my little lady would like it. She instantly wanted to put it on when she saw it for the first time and has made it her first choice when picking out nighttime attire, so I'm pretty sure that's a thumbs up.  Now, on to making more Lots of Looks For Knits Pattern designs!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

February's First Craftastic Monday Link Party

Hello Crafties and Hello February!  A new months of creative ideas awaits - let's see what you've got to share this week.

Last week I shared my experience as a Reforming Fabric Hoarder with a one year anniversary update of my journey:

And don't forget that today's the last day of the giveaway for these lovely Timeless Treasures fat quarter fabric bundles. Get your entries in HERE.

Now let's see some Craftastic picks..

Sadie Seasongoods had another great upcycle project - these beautiful wooden pendants are made from tennis racket handles!

At Home By The Baye created these fun & useful sci-fi hampers:

Sunny Sweet Days made some healthy snacks with this parmesan zucchini crisps recipe:

Scattered Thoughts of A Crafty Mom showed how to upcycle favorite elements of too-small clothes to make a new wearable to love:

Halfway to Hipster transformed a too-short dress into two even cuter tops:

ShehlaGrr shared how to make these yummies raspberry lemonade cookies using one of my favorite teas:

If you're one of this week's features, be sure to grab my Featured On button over on my Buttons Page to share the good news. 

 Want to be Featured?  
Remember to link back to the party somewhere - I can't feature your project if you don't share the party some way.

I also feature these projects on Sew Can Do's Craftastic Picks Pinterest board 
AND share each of them on Twitter too for even MORE exposure!

Follow me there to see more great projects (and see if yours is one of them)!   

Ready to link up your crafty creations?

Party rules are simple:
  • As long as it's crafty, and made by you, it's Craftastic (no links to giveaways, shops, link parties or other people's work).  Add the link to your specific post (not the main page of your blog).  Product reviews, plagiarized or sponsored posts for random items will be immediately deleted.  
  • Grab my party button & put it on your post or blog somewhere.  Party pages are fine.  If you want the chance to be featured, this is key.  The button code can be found HERE.
  • Check out some of the other fabulous links and share some crafty comment love.  We all love getting comments!!
Get more fans & followers:  Join in the Craftastic Facebook Mixer Too!

It's FREE advertising for YOUR site/Facebook page - INCLUDING SHOPS and a way to easily discover new sites to love at the same time.  It takes just seconds and gives you a chance to get more page likes & followers. You can add crafty giveaways there too!  

How It Works:
Head over to the Craftastic Mixer post on Sew Can Do's FB page.  Instead of a specific post, share your main blog, crafty shop or Facebook page link in the comments there.  It means even more exposure for your crafty site every week!  Click HERE to go link up now!


    An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, January 29, 2016

New Seamingly Smitten Patterns & Half Off All Patterns!

Earlier this week I shared how I was trying to break my longtime fabric hoarding habit.  One of the best ways is to make things with said fabrics, so today let's take a peek at some new quick & easy Seamingly Smitten Patterns. Patterns like these can help bust that fabric stash fast!  

Here's a brand new pattern release: the Woman's Raglan Hoodie Pattern.  This classic style is super versatile since you can use double knit, interlock jersey, lightweight to medium weight knit or light weight terry fleece. 

It's also a great way to easily mix multiple prints & solids. 

It has 3 sleeve options in short, three-quarter and long for year-round fashion options.

And to make the perfect custom loungewear look, just add the Women's Pajama Pant Pattern.

The pattern works with loads of different fabrics - cottons, blends, jerseys, cotton lycra, flannel and fleece.

It's got three waistband options, full and capri lengths and handy side pockets too. 

Every pattern at Seamingly Smitten is 50% off now through February 4th.  No code required!

Why Try Seamingly Smitten Patterns:

  • Tons of detailed photos
  • Easy-to-follow, step-by-step directions
  • Photos for each step (no more guessing what the wording actually means!)
  • Tutorial-style directions & extra tips to save time
  • Sizing charts to get the right fit - including petite & tall
  • Instant downloads so you can start sewing right away

Whether you're just learning to sew or have years of experience, these patterns are easy to use and a great way to make new things in no time. Just what's needed to turn those fabric piles into wearable styles!

Seamingly Smitten is a paying featured advertiser at Sew Can Do.  The opinions are completely my own, based on my honest experiences using & purchasing patterns from this shop. For my complete disclosure policy, click here. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Reforming Fabric Hoarder - One Year Later

Well my friends, it's been one year since I admitted to the internet that I am a fabric hoarder.  From all the feedback my hoarder posts got I knew I wasn't alone.  It's been quite a journey. One that's still in progress.  I thought, on this anniversary occasion, that it would be a good time to reveal what I've done, what I've learned and the answer to the real question - can you ever really stop being a fabric hoarder?

A year ago outlining the actual problem (or as fellow fabric addicts may still think, "dream fabric situation"): Too Much Fabric, Too Little Time.  In a few short years I'd bought, been gifted & inherited way more fabric than I could get through and it resulted in this:

and this:

and this:

Sure it looks kinda organized, but it's still more than 1 woman can sew through in a year or even five.  Plus, free time to actually sew, design and use said fabrics has dwindled more with every year.  Kids getting older (aka no naps, more schoolwork, outside activities, chauffeuring, etc.), the house needing serious work/proper cleaning, family time coming before anti-social hiding out in the craft just means less time to do projects folks!

Last year I started out with a solid plan and parts of it worked well.  Others, not so much.

Sewing More.  I tried this, but as you can see from the previous paragraph, that hasn't always been possible.  I find a get spurts where I can sew a couple of things, but then have periods where I can't even get into my craft room for a week or two.  Most of us have a lot of other things to juggle, so while it's a nice idea, it's not always realistic.  

Some more recent stash-busting projects

Donating & Giving Away Fabric.  I've continued doing this. It can be hard for fabric hoarders to let go, so I do a bit at a time.  Some prints I couldn't bear parting with a year ago, were easy to gift away a few months ago.  Time can make that emotional attachment wane and that's a good thing.

Selling Fabric.  I've done this too, a bit at a time, via my Etsy shop, The Green Hedgehog. Like the gifting, I continue to add new things as my attachment to parts of my stash decreases. I never thought I'd part with these fun knits, but I listed them recently and feel good about them finding a new home:

Saying "See ya" To Scraps.  I just had this epiphany last week.  I had two ginormous plastic bins full of fabric scraps. Bins my kids could climb in.  I couldn't even close them without something heavy on top because they were so full of fabric bits.  FOR YEARS.  Ask me how many times I actually dug around in them or used scraps from them?  I could count them on one hand.  It. Was. Madness.  I started my annual New Year's attempt to clean up the basement and realized it was just stupid to hold onto them any longer.  So, I put them all in garbage bags and donated them. Two 30 galloon bags full.

It felt great!  I wasn't using them, I never even wanted to dig through them when I did need a small piece of fabric and I really need to cut into the piles of unused fabric, so it made sense.  Even seeing bits from past projects didn't get me all sentimental or nostalgically wanting to keep them like it used to do.  Lesson learned: unless you actively use scraps on a regular basis, saving them for "something, someday" isn't smart.    

Fabric You Can See.  Out of sight, out of mind usually leads to fabric not being used. About every 2-3 months I've dug through my bins for seasonal fabrics to work through.  It helps remind me of what I already have (as in don't buy more of the same stuff) and I do seem to sew through several yards that would otherwise sit around for another year.  On the down side, it means things look like this for a while:

It's not ideal in appearance, but since I took these photos at the beginning of the year, I have used about 4-5 of these fabrics.  So, while not the most attractive method, it does work, despite some going back in bins for a while. Now, photographing and blogging about the projects I made....that's another issue. 

Using Self Restraint.  This has been a big one.  At first it was hard to stop myself from impulse buying at Jo-Ann's or loading up my cart whenever there was an online sale.  Now I've started holding back and instead of going "Ooohh, that's pretty...I WANT it!", I ask myself do I have an idea in mind?  If I can't think of a specific plan I can start right away (and not a vague, "I'd make a bag", but no idea what kind of bag), then I leave it.  

Quality Over Quantity.  While I've cut back on buying fabric I now buy differently too.  I used to see sale or a low price on something and just buy it.  A lot of the time it would end up being the wrong weight/print size/stretch, difficult to sew, or the print/color was cute when I bought it but not really flattering to wear.  Now I tend to buy three main kinds of fabric: basics like rib & fleece knits in useful, solid colors, designer quilting cottons and custom print knits with spandex. While these sometimes cost a bit more, they're more versatile, sew up better and since I usually have to wait a bit to get them, I really appreciate and plan for them better.

Now, for the big question - can you ever really stop being a fabric hoarder?

I think it's possible.  I can't say I'm not a hoarder yet because I've still got way more than I should, but I don't feel compelled to go wild every time I enter a fabric store or hear "fabric sale" anymore.  I'm a lot more thoughtful about what I buy and what I make these days.  It's true that I still have bins of fabric and that it's taking me longer than I'd like to work through and thin out the contents, but I do see things steadily moving in a pared down direction. I aim to have half the fabric stash I currently have by this time next year.  It's a bit ambitious, but I really want to get to the point where it's more about fabric as a way to make things I love and less about having a fabric collection.

Until my next update.  The fabric hoarding reformation continues!


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