Fabric Stash!

Fabric STASH

by Judy Baum

“Stash [prob. a blend of store & cache] to put away in a secret or safe place, as
 for future use – n. [slang]  1. a place for hiding things2. something hidden away”

That’s the definition of the word stash from my Webster’s New World Dictionary. Are you wondering why I felt I needed to know a clear and decisive meaning of the word? For one thing, being a baby boomer, ‘stash’ to me has a completely different connotation than that in the sewing world, and I wanted to make sure I knew what I was writing about. I have a small confession to make: I don’t sew. (Oh, but it feels good to have that out in the open for everyone to see. You can’t believe the looks I get from people when they hear I work for Christine and, horror of horrors, I’m not a sewer…but that sounds like another article). 

Let me get back to what I’ve observed in talking stash with sewers. I’ve found that almost a physical transformation happens to seemingly normal people when they start talking stash (remember, these seemingly normal people are sewers). A big smile spreads across their face, eyes begin to sparkle, and the mouth opens with stash stories pouring forth uncontrollably. Everything from “I just moved my daughter into the smaller bedroom because I needed more room for my sewing” (right, we all know what that means) to “Yes, I have a stash, you want to make something of it?” (this is said usually after the spouse cracks wise) or “I don’t know why I’m buying this; I could open my own store with what I have already, but the fabrics in this collections are so wonderful” (Christine likes to hear that one) to “it’s just an efficient way to save money—by having everything on hand, you eliminate those extra trips to the store that waste precious time, energy, and gas and just let the creative sewing process begin.”  One lady in Georgia asked me to hold off shipping her order for a few days because “her son was in town to do some turkey hunting and she just didn’t want to be razzed by him when the order arrived” (I’d say it’s a safe bet that this is a stash household).

Your studio, sewing room, extra bedroom, basement, upstairs, downstairs, under the stairs could all be stash spots. We even know of a woman who has converted her garage into a sewing area; but the one thing these places all have in common: they are hideouts for the stash. Are your closets, cabinets, and drawers all full of stash? And don’t forget to check those plastic bins that are stacked to the ceiling. Whether you’re an old hand at sewing or new to the craft, I’ll wager somewhere in your sewing work area is the beginnings of a stash.

Sewing down your stash

by Ann Siegle

Sewing down your stash can be a problem, especially if you're a sewist who buys fabric with 'something in mind' - the problem is, unless you're willing to transfer that idea of what that fabric should be, to something else it could be, you'll keep accumulating stash!

  1. Once a quarter, sit in your closet and evaluate your wardrobe
  2. See if there are things you don't wear because you don't have something to wear with them
  3. Ask yourself if there are gaps in your wardrobe for your current lifestyle (aka, it's summer, you need shorts and skirts, or your workplace is more casual, you need more casual work clothes)
  4. Take those garments with you to your stash
  5. Pick out three fabrics that work well with that garment
  6. Pick out three sewing patterns that work well with that fabric AND that match your current lifestyle need. Sewing a fancy dress (unless you have a fancy-dress event coming up) does not do your wardrobe any good
  7. Commit to sewing those three items in the next 45 days by breaking each pattern into a series of 15-minute steps (laying out your fabric and cutting might take two 15-minute sessions.)
    1. Map out each 15 minute step and assign it to a day (on your calendar application). Set a reminder in your phone
    2. Sew for just those 15 minutes (unless you really want to continue on) and no more, on the day and time assigned
  8. Enjoy a refreshed wardrobe that works, a stash that is reduced and a feeling of accomplishment!
Stash fabrics, and in particular remnants, seem to weigh on many sewists, literally. If you plan to sew and sew your plan, your stash will go down (and then you can get more!)

Stash fabrics, and in particular remnants, seem to weigh on many sewists, literally. If you plan to sew and sew your plan, your stash will go down (and then you can get more!)

Sewing with knit fabrics: sewing a knit dress with asymmetrical neckline

The Christine Jonson Patterns Princess Dress is a fit-and-flare dress with a unique asymmetrical neckline that looks like the neckline that the character Deanna Troi wore on Star Trek: The Next Generation. It's a beautiful neckline that is made easy to sew by the addition of a bodice-length facing that can also be used to make the dress sleeveless as well.

In this video, we show you how to sew the clean-finished neckline.

The dress looks great as a short skater-length dress, above the knee (shown in a summer print on Kay), maxi length (shown in brown) or midi (shown in brown print.) It's an incredibly versatile dress that can go from winter long sleeve version ina waffle-textured knit under a faux-sherpa suede vest or puffy vest to summer all by itself, with either a cap sleeve or sleeveless.

The fit-and-flare of this dress is immensely flattering on all body shapes.

The One-seam Wrap is a cute addition to the dress or can be worn over any dress or even made in a sport knit for yoga or dance wear. It can be made with the sleeve in the pattern envelope or it can be made with the open draped cuff from the Wrap Dress sewing pattern.

Princess Dress & One Seam Wrap 1117
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Sewing with knits: A-line Skirt with Pockets or Paneled A-line Skirt without

Sew an easy knit skirt, choose your length (short, knee, midi or maxi length) in under an hour out of comfortable stretch knit fabrics. They're so simple, fit so well on so many body shapes, and are so fun for spring and summer, you'll want to sew up a bunch!

Two great A-line skirt patterns that we'll explore give you a lot of options for length, waistband, and fabric options.

A-line skirt with or without inset pockets:

Travel Trio Three features an A-line skirt with our famous easy to sew, foolproof pocket. This skirt has either one pattern piece (a back piece) cut twice to sew up the fastest skirt you'll ever make (start to finish with a stretch fabric waistband in 15 minutes) or an A-line skirt with a 3-part front with deep inset pockets sturdy and roomy enough for your phone and keys.

 

A-line skirt with sideseam panels (for knits, wovens or leather or suede):

If you want more detail in your skirt, you can make a 3-panel A-line skirt that has no sideseams. This skirt offers options to be made in leather or suede (which comes in narrower hide-width segments) as well as stretch woven fabrics.

The A-line skirt and Wrap Top is a great combo - you can make the skirt knee length, midi or maxi length, and you can pair it with a sleeveless reversible wrap top or a long sleeved wrap top.

This pattern is one that you'll reach for again and again - a classic A-line skirt and wrap top are timeless looks that look great now and in your closet five or ten years from now. Depending on fabric, you could amp this up with a (faux) leather or suede knee length skirt, and a funky pop-art print wrap top or you could make it from two of the same fabrics for a dress look.

 

Travel Trio Three 226
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Sewing with knit fabrics: leaving pins behind

Sewing with knit fabrics seems challenging. But knits are incredibly forgiving on fit and are the foundation of our modern wardrobes. There are a number of techniques that will help with sewing with knit fabrics, and in this article, we explore how sewing with knit fabrics means that you'll be leaving pins behind (for the most part) while sewing.

There are lots of situations in sewing where pinning is an absolute necessity. Laying a tissue pattern on unstable fabrics to prepare for cutting, holding a sleeve in place to ready for basting, holding various layers of fabric together, holding trim in place etc. but there is a time when pinning will hold you back. When using Lycra blend knit fabrics you need to be able to access its stretchable qualities and pins can get in the way. Being someone who depends on the forgiving nature of LYCRA blend fabrics in my sewing and designing I find it annoying to have to be so exact when sewing with non stretch fabrics! I like to sample my patterns in non-stretch muslins to check the fit and construction, but I rarely sew garments with non-stretch fabrics, especially now that there are so many great woven fabrics with LYCRA.

I admit that sitting at the serger holding a non-pinned long seam to be serged can be a scary moment. Pins can give you a false sense of security that you are doing the right thing, but you would be wrong. Pins will just get in your way. You need flexibility and control of what you are serging. As you are serging a stretch fabric seam you should be continually adjusting and checking and giving a slight shake and stretch to the seam so as it is being fed under the presser foot the fabric is flat, even, and as you approach the end of the seam that the ends match. You should however, be aware of your notches and use them as a point of reference. You should be holding the layers of fabric behind the presser foot with your left hand and guiding the fabric (not pushing) in front of the presser foot with your right hand. Your left hand should be pulling the fabric from behind, putting tension on the fabric as it moves under the presser foot.

When serging long seams such as a pant inseam or side seam on a skirt, I start at the bottom of the seam. Starting at the edge of the seam you should be able to handle about 6 or 7 inches at a time. When you are about half way to the end of your seam stop (with the needles in the fabric) and match the end of the seam, then hold the next 7 or so inches of seam and continue until you are at the bottom edge. And as you approach the very last inch, slow down and continue feeding the fabric straight under the presser foot, don’t let go until the feed dogs have taken the last of the fabric. If you know what is going to happen at the end of your seam when you are half way there you will never end up with one longer than the other!

For example, if you were serging the side seam of the Pencil Skirt and you pinned the seam every 7-8” and forced the fabric to match at the end of each pinned section and started and stopped along those barriers you would not be letting the fabric adjust itself under the feeder and presser foot. Chances are your seam would not be smooth and even but choppy and show uneven stretching.

Pins should not be in control of your stitching, you should be making adjustments to the way the fabric is being fed into the machine the entire time you are serging. They may be small, quick adjustments but they make the difference in how that seam will hang when you have your skirt on.

Try it!

 

Sewing with stretch knit fabrics: Flounces!

The Flounce is the IT design detail right now. How do you create a flounce? Why are stretch knit fabrics perfect for garments with flounces?

A flounce is not a ruffle. Let's get this one out of the way - a flounce is not gathered along it's joined edge with neckline or hem. It is a 1:1 ratio of neckline or hem edge to flounce edge, but flares out to 2:1 or greater along the loose, flounced edge.

Let's look at three garments with flounces:

The top garment is a straight, knee length skirt with a flounced hem (BaseWear Two). The middle image is a classic wrap top with a graduated flounced neckline edge (Ruffled Top and Swirl Skirt), and the last garment is a maxi skirt with a fishtail flounced hem that makes the shape of a 'mermaid' tail (Ruffled Top and Swirl Skirt). These details are not only easy to create, but add distinctive design details to classic pieces you wear in your wardrobe every day!

The top is a classic v-neck wrap top. Each side of the wrap is sewn into the side seam, the flounced band is added before the side seam is sewn and flipped over the top for a completely secure and enclosed neckline with no neckline hemming required!

The flounced skirt can be made in 15 minutes - it's a classic straight skirt in your choice of any length, that features an easy flounced hem that is raw-edged. This awesome skirt goes under a denim jacket and tee with sneakers for casual days, and dresses up for business dress events or under a cardigan or blouse for office workdays.

The swirl skirt is just divine. We show this paired with the Princess Wrap tee and sandals for a great summer look, but it also can go upscale in black with a black top and statement jewelry. You could overlay the skirt in a knit with a stretch lace (two layers), and wear it with a silk shantung cropped bodice top for a very popular two-piece prom look too.

The flounce is the IT look right now, create it easily with these three patterns.

You can also draft your own flounces, perfect for sleeves:

The joining edge is the inner circumference of a curve or circle (the longer the outer edge, the more ruffled the flounce, a circle has a greater ratio than a curve.)  The measurement of the inner side of the 'doughnut' of the pattern piece is the length of the hem or neckline you're attaching the flounce to. The outer edge and the flounce's depth is up to you - deeper = more ruffle, shallower = less ruffled. You can even do graduated flounces like the top, where one edge is narrower than another.

Why is a flounce perfect in stretch knit fabrics? Simple, you do not have to hem the outer edge! Knits don't ravel and cutting the flounce out with a rotary cutter gives a clean, stable edge.

To draft a flounce, grab a large round platter and a small saucer. Trace the large round platter on to newspaper, or pattern paper, and then position the smaller saucer in the middle. Draw around it. You now have a doughnut. Cut the doughnut out and slice through it to make a doughnut with a slide. Open the doughnut so the joining (inner) circle is flat. This is what you join to your garment. You can make flounces in all sizes (depending on what you need), and join two or more together at the short ends to create enough to go around a skirt or neckline.

Flounces are fun,  try it!

Ruffle Top & Swirl Skirt 419
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BaseWear 2 - 1025
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Sewing with knit fabrics: Sew a strapless summer jumpsuit

Nothing says summer more than bare shoulders in the sunshine! A strapless bandeau jumpsuit is a hot item for summer this year, and we're going to show you how to make one!

You'll need about 3 yards of stretch knit fabric like rayon/lycra. The example photos show linen and stretch shimmery satin fabric (also options for this jumpsuit.)

Sew a Strapless Summer Jumpsuit DIY + Instructions + Tutorial

There are just a few simple steps to create this:

  • We'll be working with the Christine Jonson Taper and Wide Leg Pant, designed for knit fabrics (link below)
  • You'll take some measurements of your high bust to draw the bandeau top of the jumpsuit
  • You'll sew the bandeau top to the waistband of the pants and create a clever elastic casing for the waistband at the same time
  • You can use either skinny or wide leg. If you make the skinny leg, fold over a casing instead of a hem, put elastic in side and wear them slightly above the ankle!
  • This is a beginner-level project

Because Google doesn't like duplicate content:  instructions are on our Social Media Evangelist's blog and are linked here:

StraplessJumpsuitKnitDIY
Jumpsuit cuffs - for the skinny-leg version, turn under the hem 1.5" and stitch, leaving an opening to insert elastic. Measure elastic around your ankle loosely, insert, stitch closed.

Jumpsuit cuffs - for the skinny-leg version, turn under the hem 1.5" and stitch, leaving an opening to insert elastic. Measure elastic around your ankle loosely, insert, stitch closed.

Gorgeous, elegant, comfortable as pajamas! Go glam with layered necklaces and jeweled sandals. Go casual with neutral woven or buckled sandals. Wear it under a draped vest or jacket. Pull it on over a swimsuit after the beach or pool.

Here's the pattern we used. The bandeau top you will draw as you make this project!

Taper Pant & Wide Leg Pant
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Sewing vee-neck knit fabric tee shirts

Tees are the foundations of our modern wardrobes. Sewing knit fabric tee shirts is not only easy and satisfyingly quick, but it allows you to refresh your wardrobe on an hour's notice! The Vee neck tee is a classic, shows off some great jewelry and is EASY to sew.

There are many basic tees (and we have featured a lot of them on our blog). We're going to explore two more tees that we love that we know you will too! Click on any of the images below to see a full photo.

These tees are shapely and accent your figure, look great with jeans (as shown on Christine herself, above). They come in the same pattern envelope (see below).

The Cross Your Heart Tee, with a shirred underbust and princess paneled front is an easy to sew tee that has a seemingly complex but actually quite clever shirred wrap that gathers onto a front panel. This tee can be made short sleeved with sleeve bands above the elbow, 3/4 or long which is perfect for transitional spring and fall days.

The Vee-neck tee has a double layered band in front that is sewn together in a unique way that makes sewing it a breeze. No neckbands to fuss with. The back neck comes up a bit higher in the back of this tee, which elongates the vee neckline. You can make this in cap, elbow with band, 3/4 or long split hem sleeve.

You can wear these tees with a pencil skirt or jeans, with slim pants, flare or wide leg or even a maxi skirt - the tees' shape and fit means it skims your curves and makes you look awesome, regardless of your size.

Our favorite tee shirt looks:

From left, a cap sleeve floral print Vee neck tee with boyfriend jeans, Converse sneakers and a bright red saddle bag

From left, a cap sleeve floral print Vee neck tee with boyfriend jeans, Converse sneakers and a bright red saddle bag

From left: Vee Neck Tee in a print, with elbow length sleeves, black skinnyjeans, a moto jacket or a jean jacket and suede flats.

From left: Vee Neck Tee in a print, with elbow length sleeves, black skinnyjeans, a moto jacket or a jean jacket and suede flats.

 

 

Cross Your Heart & V-Neck Tee 714
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Sewing knit hems with a three-thread serger edge

Valentine's Day One Seam Wrap

Super quick and easy 3-thread edge serge finish

By: Christine Jonson

 

This technique works especially well for light to medium weight sweater knits where a traditional hem is not best. I love this Missoni-ish fabric that is in my current collection, and thought it would be the perfect Valentine's Day topper in the reds and pink colorway. This wrap (One Seam Wrap from #1117) has only one seam that needs to be stitched for the underarm/sleeve. Once that is sewn the rest of the work is the edge stitching or rolled hem.

Here's what you need:
3 cones of thread
1/8" bias fusible seam tape
Rolled hem foot and plate

The Outfit...

I paired the One Seam Wrap with my Ruched Skirt(free pattern in the tips & how-to) made with black rayon jersey and the Keyhole Top (sleeveless and without keyhole) made with a wonderful textured knit from my stash.

Since I want this for Valentine's Day I chose a variety of red and pink threads to choose from then made my decision.

I changed the plate and foot on my serger for a rolled hem and did a few test samples to achieve the perfect stitch.

This is my Brother serger which I bought in 1980! I love it and it has given me years of excellent performance.

I cut the 1/4" bias tape in half because I only need it to be as wide at the rolled edge and don't want it to show on the wrong side. You can use fusible interfacing cut on the bias for this step as well.

Carefully press the bias tape along the edge of the wrap on the wrong side.

Press this on all the way around.

Edge serge on the right side of the fabric without cutting any fabric off. I flip the knife up and out of the way to be sure.

I control how thick the thread is on the edge of the fabric by pulling it slightly with my left hand as I guide the fabric with both hands.

Sewing a ruched knit tee shirt from a tee shirt sewing pattern

Shirred/Ruched Banded Neck Tee

Get this ruched look by adding some elastic into the side seam of the Banded Neck Tee from the Travel Trio One #1204 after construction (hemming also completed first).

The total side seam length pictured here is 25” and the ruching starts two inches above the waist. 

In our sample, the last 15” of the side seam are zig zag stitched onto a 9” stretched piece of elastic. The elastic was cut into 11” pieces, so that at the start and end of the stitching, there was something to hold onto.  The extra elastic is then trimmed away at the ends.

The fabric pictured in the sample is from a previous collection you may still have in your stash.  Light weight sweater knits, and other drapey LYCRA blends would work well with this project.