Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Ankara Bound Luxe Cuddle Lamb Blanket

My son is obsessed with soft fabrics.  I have had the pleasure of working with Shannon Fabrics for several articles for Sew News Magazine and recently, I joined their brand ambassador team. They are a very generous company and I received several welcome packages with their yummy fabrics. With every delivery, my son wraps himself in the cuddly fabrics to enjoy the softness. Every attempt for me to disentangle him, has been met with reluctance because he constantly wants to be enrobed in them. On more than one occasion, I've had to unravel him from 6 yards of fabric.

When Shannon Fabrics heard that he routinely wears the single-sided fleece garments inside out, to feel the softness, they told me about the double-sided options. They sent him several yards to celebrate his recent birthday.

Top of his list of projects for me to make was a blanket. I decided to make a bound option using Ankara fabric that he selected from my stash. This is a quick and easy project that gives a lot of comfort and character with a little bit of effort.

Here's a quick tutorial

2.5 yards Double-sided Lamb Cuddle Luxe (54/56" x 90")
1.5 yards Ankara fabric or 45" fabric of your choice
Walking foot
A heap of pins 
A sharp rotary cutter
A rotary mat
6" quilting ruler
Iron and board
All purpose thread

If you are buying yardage, the 2.5 yards of Cuddle Luxe is ready to go. If you have more than that you will need to cut it down. I like to lay the fabric on carpet because the fibers keep everything from shifting. Measure 90" down the length of the fabric and cut across the width.

Use a quilting ruler to cut 8 strips of binding the length of your fabric (45") x 6" wide. If you are using wider fabric, you will require fewer strips.

With right sides together and raw edges even, stitch/serge the short ends together, Repeat on all strips, press open if stitched, to one side if serged.

Press .5" on both long sides of the binding. Fold long edges in to meet and press to create a long center crease.

Slide binding under one edge of the fleece so the edge meets the center crease.

Pin through layers of binding and fleece to secure in place. Allow the binding to extend beyond the fleece.

Tuck the binding under so the center seam meets the edge of the fleece. Adjust the corner to smooth the fabric and form a point.

View from backside.

Fold the binding to the front and adjust your corner to create a mitered corner. Pin in place. 

Continue to pin the binding  around the perimeter of the blanket. When you get to the beginning overlap and tuck the fabric ends in place. I pinned the entire perimeter before I began sewing. If your blanket feels too bulky and heavy this way, I suggest you pin then stitch each edge before continuing to the next.

Clear the area to the left of your sewing machine so there is room for the blanket to rest on the table. It can be unwieldy if the blanket hangs in front of the machine. Install the walking foot on your machine. Adjust the stitch length to the longest length. Align the edge of the binding to the edge of the foot and use it as your seam allowance guide. Stitch binding in place. Backstitch at the beginning and end, pivot at the corners. 

Press binding and enjoy!

Happy sewing,

Friday, December 3, 2021

From Pinterest to Pleased. My Chunky Sweater Dreams

I don't know about you, but I have thousands of pins on my 100+Pinterest boards. Many of my pins are aspirational and interesting, but I have rarely taken the next step to execute them. I have had a chunky sweater dress with a voluminous sleeve on one of my boards for a few years. I love the chunky cowl, the texture of the fabric, and the big sleeves of this Fall staple.

The sweater is available for purchase, in synthetic fibers and on what looks like a fast fashion website. Those factors did not appeal to me so I decided to make my own.

I was hoping for a wide wale ribbed knit fabric like that shown in the photo. I went to the Nature's Fabric  and was tempted away from my original plan by the wide range of colors of organic cotton thermals they offer. I chose the Honey for the yummy color and texture.

I hit my extensive pattern stash and pulled two patterns, one vintage one current with the plan to hack them to get what I want. I chose this vintage simplicity turtleneck pattern because I really wanted some drama with the neckline. (If you have a mock/turtleneck pattern on hand, extend the cowl to 17in. for a similar look.)

For the sleeves, I chose Vogue 1700 for the streamlined then, voluminous sleeve option of this top. It is perfect for the look I was hoping to achieve.
The construction was pretty straightforward. I kept the front and back bodice and upper sleeve of the of the vintage Simplicity dress. I cut the balloon sleeve and lower cuff of the Vogue pattern. I had 2 yards of fabric to work with. As you can see in the photo, I positioned the pattern to fit, not adhere to the grainline direction. Because it is a knit fabric, the fit will not be affected by this adjustment. I would not do this with a woven fabric, however.  

The balloon panel is gathered to fit between the sleeve and cuff. (The pictured pattern weights and pincushion pattern are available in my Etsy store.)

I stitched the sleeve in flat and sewed it with my serger.

I have a cover-stitch machine and am trying to use it more frequently on knit fabrics. For this project however, I opted to use a blind-hem stitch so as to not draw a line across the hemline. 

I am so in love with this sweater! It is just what I wanted and more.

I love the interest of the sleeve!

The fullness and drama of the cowl is wonderful

and a tiny bit silly.

The back is pretty simple with no shaping for a loose fit.

It is December on the calendar which means we are having mild Fall weather here in Texas (if you watch the news you know cuckoo bananas is the way of things down here!). I am looking forward to a few months of sweater, jeans and boots for my go to dressing. I will be adding a few more of these to my closet. The way Little Miss has been eyeing this one, I am sure I will need to add a few to her closet as well.

Happy Sewing,

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

New Work From Home Fabric!

When I feel like wearing sweats or yoga pants but I must wear a dress, this is the dress for me! I love when I make something and it surprises me. This dress did just that! My go-to outfits most of this homebound year have had casual comfort as the paramount feature. Few of them have been dresses. With this make that is going to change. When I chose this bullet knit from Nature's Fabrics I knew it would be comfortable. When I paired it with this pattern, I didn't know I would want to wear it all the time.

I love this faux wrap dress with ruched details. I chose to make view D with the the gathers at the shoulders. The construction was easy and I sewed it mainly on my serger. The bullet knit is a stable knit, so it can be sewn on a standard machine if you don't own a serger. 

I have used bullet knit  to make dresses, tops and cardigans. I love all of them. When I was planning this project, I started to feel you might get bored with more of this fabric from me. In the end, I went ahead because I want you get into this fabric! 

This is the dress you wear when you have to look like you care, but you want to feel like you're lounging. It's the perfect dress when you want to be comfy, but need to pop on a Teams meeting or a Zoom call.

This is the dress I wish I had when I was pregnant and nursing my babies. The stretch of the fabric would have easily accommodated my growing belly and the neckline would have made it perfect for breastfeeding. I am not going down that road anymore. I will however, make this dress again and possibly modify it for tops.

In terms of sizing, I cut my regular size and could have gone down by one because of the stretch of this knit. I have seen other versions that have zero ease, but that is not my style. Because of the folds, tucks and gathers I am happy with the fit. 

I don't remember when I bought this pattern, but it is now out of print. There are a few available for sale if you want this exact pattern. If you are open to a suggestion Burda 6211 is a good match.

I am planning my Fall and Winter projects and it will be all about comfort. Do you have a secret pajamas pattern that you love?

Happy Sewing,


Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Raving for Rayon Challis


As a child I enjoyed watching the A-team "I pity the fool!" and the phrase "I love it when a plan comes together" has stuck with me over the years. This dress started as a pitiful dress and was an example of a plan not coming together! Read on to see what went wrong, then right.

I was tremendously excited to see the new line of designer rayon challis by Riley Blake Designs. The prints range from bold and colorful to subtle and muted. The fabric is silky with a smooth hand and lovely drape. I fell in love with several of them with the mind to make vintage maxi dresses from patterns in my stash. I chose the Tidalwave design for my first project.

After much deliberation and consultation with a friend, I chose Simplicity 5383 from the '80's. I love the full maxi length, the square neck line, the gathered inset, shoulder ties and side seam pockets. I felt it was a perfect pattern to showcase this lovely fabric.

Rayon challis can be a challenge to work with because of its silkiness. I find it best to cut the fabric with my pattern weights, a rotary mat and cutter with a very sharp blade. These tools help me move quickly across the fabric preventing shifting as I go. 

During construction I find it best to pin aggressively to keep the layers together. and I like to use a serger to finish the seams.

I worked on this dress while video chatting with a friend as she sewed in her sewing studio miles away. I was really enjoyed the process of making this. My track record with vintage patterns has been very successful over the years. I know what size works for me in each of the big four brands and usually I have few fit issues. I tried on this dress and it was a frumpy disaster!

I made it exactly to size, but it was really wide and super long. Yes, this pattern has a lot of ease but it didn't even fit in the places that were supposed to be close to the body. I was disappointed. I put the dress in time-out and decided to rethink the project.

I considered converting it into a skirt, but in the end, I really wanted this to be a maxi dress.  I decided to modify it to work with McCalls 7405.

I have made this dress before and really like it. I thought the detail of the front inset of the original dress brought some added dimension to the overall look of my modified dress. Because there was so much excess fabric, I simply laid the new pattern on the center front and back folds of the dress and recut it. I eliminated the pockets out of resentment for the failure; I didn't want to do anymore work on it.   

The neckline casing makes it easy to adjust for more or less coverage with the back slit. 

Though the calendar is hinting at Fall, it is still Summer weather here in the Texas Gulf Coast. This lightweight fabric with the two leg vents is perfect for the heat.

I think I will use the other prints to make transitional tunics as we move into Fall. For those, I will use tried and tested patterns for guaranteed success.

Happy Sewing,