Gathered Back Top: Zipper Tutorial

A couple of months ago while attending the annual Spring Quilt Market I got a sneak peak at all of the amazing new patterns coming out from Indygo Junction. One that particularly caught my eye was the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. I love the simple design with the fun element of the gathering across the center back.

Indygo Junction Gathered Back Top Pattern

I was able to get my hands on one of these new patterns as soon as they were ready (Thank you Betsy, blogger at Indygo Junction!) and immediately got planning my own version. After reading through the directions and taking a look at the pattern pieces I knew just what I wanted to do- add a zipper to the back. This pattern has kind of an ingenious construction, with the unique back pieces and center back seam. This makes it perfect for adding a fun, accent zipper- no additional cutting required.

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

Gathered Back Top in Double Gauze with Zipper Accent

For my fabric I chose this beautiful double gauze from Cotton & Steel. I love the color combination and the irregular stripes- although this does present quite a challenge when attempting to match up the pieces.

First, I cut out both of my back pieces, taking care to make them as symmetrical as I could. Double gauze can ravel quite a bit so I made sure and finished the center seam edges with my serger- this seam will be pressed open so finish the edges now rather than later. If you don’t have a serger, a large zig-zag stitch with work great.

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

Finished Edges on Top Back Pieces

I also pressed the seam allowances in place, WST, on both sides of the top portion at the center back. With the help of one of my favorite tools, Clover’s Hot Hemmer, I was able to get that 5/8″ seam pressed in a snap- both accurately and without burning my fingers.

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Pressing Center Back Seam Allowance

Next, I took my lace accent zipper and got ready to add it along the freshly pressed seam allowance. At first I had a hard time trying to match up the edge of the zipper with the folded edge of the fabric and actually catch all the layers when stitching. Rather than fight it, I unfolded the pressed seam allowance and used the fold as a guide for my zipper placement. This made attaching the zipper halves to each side much easier.

Attaching the Zipper

Attaching the Zipper

Once the zipper was attached I just folded the seam allowance back out of the way and pressed well. Just a couple of other notes- I put the top of the zipper right up to the neckline. For the bottom, I stopped it about an inch or so from the bottom of the fabric- above the horizontal cut. Don’t forget to stitch the seam allowance together below the zipper. I also back stitched across the bottom of the zipper just for extra security.

Once your zipper is in place you can continue on with the pattern directions for creating the back gather and stitching the assembled back to the front. Below is what my completed top back looked like complete with accent zipper.

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

Right and Wrong Sides of the Finished Back

After assembling the body of my top I tried it on for fit. The front was gaping a bit at the neckline so I created a little tuck/pleat right at the center front. It actually created a nice detail while also helping my fit. Once I was satisfied with the neckline I attached the facing bias as directed in the pattern. At the center back opening (at the zipper) I just folded the end of the bias in to finish it off but still leave the zipper opening functional.

Attaching the Neckline bias facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

Attaching the Neckline facing and finishing the edge at the zipper.

I finished the top as directed in the pattern and love how it turned out. The double gauze gives it a bit more structure than other fabrics would. Paired with my Jamie Jeans this is the perfect summer top for here in the Pacific Northwest.

My Finished Gathered Back Top

My Finished Gathered Back Top

I’d like to try it again in a drapey fabric like a rayon challis for a different look. That in a tunic length paired with leggings would be amazing! I also really want to try this top in a knit, but I will save that for another blog post… Check out some of our amazing summer fabrics, perfect for the gathered back top, in our shop HERE.

This pattern was a lot of fun to make and can be completed in a couple of evenings. The lovely ladies at Indygo Junction have been a pleasure to work with and I would highly encourage you to check out their other beautiful garment and accessory patterns! They are always coming out with fresh looks for seamstresses of all levels.

Last but not least… Indygo Junction sent me an extra copy of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern. Leave a comment on this post- tell us what you are sewing up this summer. We will randomly select a winner Monday, July 27th. (Update: 7/28/15. Congratulations goes to Karen Smith, our winner for this Giveaway)

~Michelle

Note: Indygo Junction provided us with two free copies of the Gathered Back Top and Tunic Pattern, one to sew with and one to giveaway. All of the ideas and comments in this post are our own and were not influenced in any way. This was not a sponsored post- it is something we put together for our readers and anyone else interested.

Jamie Jeans and Denim Blues

This Spring/Summer DENIM has been everywhere in fashion- all different shades, weights and types. I have loved seeing all different styles and combinations, and as a devoted jean lover, it doesn’t hurt my feelings at all to have an extra excuse to wear mine everyday. Here are a few of my favorite denim looks that I have put together on one of our Pinterest boards (P.S. Are you following along with us?)

Denim Fashion Inspirtaion

Denim Fashion Inspiration

It only makes sense that jeans have been trending among sewists as well. My Instagram feed has been filled with so many amazing versions of handmade jeans I couldn’t help but be inspired to make my own. While I have been anxious to make both Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans and Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans, I decided to tackle the Jamie Jeans first.

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

Named Clothing Jamie Jeans Pattern

With the help of the beautifully written pattern directions and the great Sewalong put together by IndieSew, I completed my very first pair of handmade jeans in a couple of afternoons. I used our Super Stretchy 8.6 oz Indigo Denim from Robert Kaufman Fabrics and paired it with a matching chambray for the pockets. I also decided to use a denim blue jeans thread so that the accent stitching blended in a bit more. At the time I was hoping to hide any potential mistakes but in the end I really like the softer look it gives as well.

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

Completed Pair of Jamie Jeans- First pair of handmade jeans!

A couple of notes I discovered in making my Jamie Jeans. First, I followed IndieSew’s recommendation to baste all of the pieces together to check the fit. I was very fortunate in that when I pulled my basted, skinny jeans on for the first time they fit like a glove! I didn’t have to make a single change (crazy I know!). But I would have been so upset if I had taken the time to finish every seam and add all the details and have them not fit. While it added an extra hour or so of sewing time- it is well worth the price for great fitting jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Great fit on my Jamie Jeans.

Second, once I got my Jamie Jeans all sewn together I noticed a bit of gaping at the fly- when I would sit or whatever the fly flap would open a bit exposing the zipper. I figured out that at the bottom of the zipper there was very little “flap” covering it so any little stretch exposed the zipper. To help prevent this from happening I back stitched across the flap and the zipper about 3/4″ up from the bottom. That helped take the overlap from only about 1/8″ to a little more than a 1/4″ and losing that little bit of length in the fly opening didn’t make any difference.

Last, I decided not to add the belt loops. Since my Jamie Jeans fit so nicely I don’t see myself ever wearing a belt with them (I’m not really a fan of belts to begin with). I did cut the strips used to make the looks and stashed them in my sewing drawer just in case I change my mind after wearing them for a while. So far I have only missed the loops when pulling my jeans on, but that is a bad habit I need to break anyway!

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing's Jamie Jeans Pattern

Love the front detailing on Named Clothing’s Jamie Jeans Pattern

Overall- I love my new pair of handmade jeans and I wear them just about every chance I get. I am already dreaming of future pairs and maybe some variations on them as well. Check out this amazing stretch printed denim… can’t you just picture them as a new pair of skinny jeans for fall! I also have Closet Case Files’ Ginger Jeans waiting in the wings for another pair. Now that I have made one pair of jeans there is no stopping me now!

Darling Ranges Dress goes Safari

I have been a huge admirer of Megan Nielsen’s patterns for quite a while, especially her Darling Ranges dress. I’d see all the amazing versions posted on Instagram and fall even more in love. Now, I am happy to say that I have finished my very own Darling Ranges dress!

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Darling Ranges dress pattern from Megan Nielsen

Last summer, when I first started buying fabrics for Style Maker, I found two incredible, vintage, rayon challis prints that I just couldn’t pass up! Bold, graphic, single border prints that are just so unique, Who could say no? Plus, the gathered skirt and length of the Darling Ranges dress makes it the perfect pattern to show of these amazing, wide borders.

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Left: Moulin Rouge Scene

Vintage Rayon Challis Prints. Right: Safari Animals and Left: “Moulin Rouge”-esque Scene

I had originally planned to sew up my Safari version of Megan’s pattern for fall last year. But with everything else going on (ie: launching a new business), it just didn’t happen. I put it on the back burner for the coming Spring/Summer.

This spring, my Darling Ranges dress became a priority project and it was definitely worth the wait! Along the way I made a few changes to the pattern to make it my own and show off my fabric choice even more. The biggest change I made was making the front skirt ONE piece, rather than two pieces, and NOT continuing the buttons to the hemline. I was worried about either 1) not having the border print match at the center front and it looking strange or 2) wasting a lot more fabric and time to get it to match just right.

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress with Full Skirt

Rather than give myself a headache- I used the front skirt pattern piece, folded back the excess needed for making the button placket and cut it on the fold. An easy change and I love how it turned out- uninterrupted safari animals.

Just a couple of other slight changes I made are: lengthening the sleeves to make them 3/4 length instead of elbow and lengthening the skirt to just above the knee. The length actually ended up being a happy accident- I knew I wanted to lengthen it but I didn’t know how much. I guessed as I was initially cutting out the skirt- with the border any changes would need to be done from the opposite side. You wouldn’t want to loose any of your beautiful border!

Just one more tip that I wanted to share, my secrets to perfect gathers. First, there is this handy product called Fuse ‘N Gather. It is pre-stitched, iron-on tape that gives you perfect gathers with out the hassle of having to do all those basting stitches. Just iron it to the edge of your fabric, pull the two durable strings and away you go! I always have this stuff on hand and hardly ever do any gathering without it.

Using Fuse 'N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

Using Fuse ‘N Gather- Gathering Tape to attach the skirt to the bodice.

My other tip to even gathers is PIN, PIN, PIN. I find that if I pin both the fabric being gathered and the fabric I am stitching it to at each quarter point (ie: the middle and half way between the middle on either side) I know that my gathers will be nicely spaced. Just match up the corresponding pins and spread the gathers out evenly between them. No more areas with extra gathering and other areas with hardly any.

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

Loving my finished Safari Darling Ranges Dress!

I love how this dress turned out- it is just how I had envisioned it! Originally, I planned to wear it belted and skip the ties in the back, but after trying a few different styles of belts I just couldn’t get the look I wanted. I added the ties in the back and it fits and looks perfect. The ties really finish it off and give it a nice relaxed but fitted look.

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

Alternate View of the Safari Darling Ranges Dress

The vintage rayon challis drapes so nicely and feels just as amazing on. This dress is definitely a keeper and the pattern is one that I will revisit again in the future- so many possibilities. Thank you Megan!

~Michelle

Cotton & Steel: Special Deal and Giveaways!

To go with our latest blog post and newest make, my Carolyn Pajamas, we have a couple surprises for our readers!

First, 10% OFF all of our Cotton & Steel fabrics this week (through 6/14/15)! These cotton lawns and double gauzes are a dream to work with and perfect for your summer sewing projects.

I love this top from Made by Rae– she keeps teasing us about the pattern release. Can’t wait to make my own!

Beatrix Top from Made by Rae in Cotton & Steel Double Gauze

Beatrix Top from Made by Rae in Cotton & Steel Double Gauze

Next, we have a Special Giveaway! Cotton & Steel canvas totes!

Last month I traveled to Minneapolis for the International Quilt Market and was so inspired by all amazing designers and displays around the show. Some of my favorite displays were in the Cotton & Steel booth- such attention to detail and beautifully constructed garments.

Cotton & Steel Quilt Market Booth- New Rayon Fabrics

Cotton & Steel Quilt Market Booth- New Rayon Fabrics

On the trip, I picked up a few of the Cotton & Steel’s limited edition canvas totes and I want to share them with you! You can get one of these amazing totes in 1 of 2 ways.

1) Win ONE here on the Style Maker Blog! Leave a comment below- maybe tell us what sewing projects you have planned for this summer. We will pick ONE random winner on Sunday, June 14th. (US entrants only please).

2) Save 10% on Cotton & Steel- The next FOUR orders placed at Style Maker Fabrics that include any of our Cotton & Steel yardage will receive one of the totes! Hurry, they won’t last long! (Minimum total order of $25).

Cotton & Steel Limited Edition Canvas Totes

Cotton & Steel Limited Edition Canvas Totes

Watch for new Cotton & Steel fabrics coming to the shop this Summer! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for the latest arrivals and to keep up with what is going on here at Style Maker.

Happy Sewing!

Michelle

Carolyn Pajamas: Savor the Process

In looking over some of my past blog posts and projects I found myself falling into a “fast and easy” sewing rut. Don’t get me wrong, I love a top that you can finish in an afternoon or a pair of leggings you can whip together in just an hour or so. Sometimes, though, you just need more of a challenge- a pattern that is going to stretch your abilities as a seamstress and make you think about your technique and how you want your end result to turn out.

Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files

Carolyn Pajamas from Closet Case Files

When Heather Lou, from Closet Case Files, came out with her Carolyn Pajama pattern I knew that I wanted to make them. I love lounging in PJs on a lazy Sunday, watching movies all day, and these are perfect for that. When the Cotton & Steel lawns arrived in the shop earlier this year, the stars aligned and I knew I found the perfect fabric! I just love the colors of Melody Miller’s vintage floral print and the hand on this lawn is just so soft and yummy.

Vintage Floral Lawn

Cotton & Steel Vintage Floral Lawn by Melody Miller

Going into this project I did have some reservations. The Carolyn Pajama pattern was going to test my skill level as a seamstress- I had never used piping on a garment before or had much success with button holes. I also was a bit frightened by the amount of fabric I needed to make a complete pair of full length jammies- 5-1/2 YARDS! It was easy to decide that this project was worth my investment of time and fabric, but I also wanted to make sure that I did it justice. I didn’t want to just throw them together and rush through each step.

My Carolyn Pajamas took me about a week to complete. I took on a new step each afternoon or evening when I had time to think about what I needed to do. I also redid anything that I wasn’t quite happy with, rather than pushing forward, hoping nobody would notice in the end. From making my own piping (I couldn’t find pre-made that matched just right) to actually learning how to make a decent button hole on my machine (thank you YouTube!) I took the time this garment deserved and I have an amazing final result to show for it.

Carolyn Pajamas in Cotton & Steel Lawn

Carolyn Pajamas in Cotton & Steel Lawn

In the end, I am very proud of everything I accomplished in making my Carolyn Pajamas and I just love how they turned out! I have to thank Heather for all the blog posts and detailed pattern instructions she provided; they really helped along the way. My PJ’s are uniquely mine and better than anything I could ever purchase. They are sewn to last, in a fabric I love and they are sure to be well worn.

PJ + Toby

Snuggling with the Style Maker Fabrics Blog Dog, Toby

I hope my experience in sewing my PJ’s inspires you to take on a new challenge and really savor the sewing process. In the quilting world, there has been some buzz about Mark Lipinski’s Slow Stitching Movement. He is encouraging quilters to take on a legacy project- one that isn’t made just to finish a project but that has some more heart and soul behind it. I think all seamstresses and makers can apply this to their craft in some way and enjoy the creative process a bit more on a special project- savoring each step and learning something new along the way. Best of all you will have something you really care about and cherish when you are finished- I know I do!

My Completed Carolyn Pajamas!

My Completed Carolyn Pajamas!

Colors and Trends for Your Spring Sewing

Spring is here in full force and so is our spring sewing. Time to shorten those sleeves, shed those layers and break out the soft, flowy fabrics that we have been longing for all winter!

With this new season comes new trends and styles in ready-to-wear fashion. While I can’t afford most of the beautiful garments that grace the pages of the fashion magazines, it doesn’t stop me from being inspired to take those colors/trends and create my own garments. I love re-imagining the trends brought to us by ready-to-wear and designing my own pieces- re-interpreting them to fit my own unique style. As seamstresses and makers there is nothing stopping us from creating our own fashionable looks.

In getting ready for the new season here at Style Maker Fabrics, we have put together “collections” of our fabrics based on some of the hottest trends we are seeing in fashion this Spring. Over the next couple of posts I’m going share a few of my favorites along with some ideas for garments that you can make.

First, lets talk about COLOR! Last Fall, Pantone released the 10 key colors for Spring 2015 and the first thing that came to my mind was how soothing they feel. These softer colors take us away to a remote local, where we can escape everything else and just relax. Who wouldn’t want to wear colors with that have that kind of power!

Spring 2015 Colors

Pantone’s Spring 2015 Colors: Women’s Fashion

We decided to break these beautiful colors into two separate collections- a group of warmer tones we call “Desert Retreat” and a group of cooler shades called “Ocean Escape”. Both collections include an assortment of fabric types- lawn, rayon challis, knits and shirtings- letting you select your favorite color in the perfect fabric for your next project.

Our “Desert Retreat” collection combines shades of pink, tangerine, custard yellow and rich plums. Reminiscent of a beautiful sunset, these colors are warm and comforting while still having enough pop to make a statement and be unique. Pair them with earthy neutrals for a great look modern look.

Style Maker Fabrics Spring Color Collection: Desert Retreat

Style Maker Fabrics Spring Color Collection: Desert Retreat

Try using these fabrics for a playful sundress, comfortable button-up shirt or even just as a simple infinity scarf. Maybe go bold with some fitted colored jeans or by layering multiple shades these warm colors. The possibilities are endless.

Desert Retreat Fashion Inspiration

The “Ocean Escape” collection brings together the cooler shades of the sky and water. Blues have been on the rise in popularity for the past few seasons and this Spring don’t be afraid to mix and match them. Aqua, turquoise, teal, royal and navy- We love them all!

Style Maker Fabrics Spring Color Collection: Ocean Escape

Style Maker Fabrics Spring Color Collection: Ocean Escape

Perfect for pants and skirts in any shade, pair them with a soft blouse or gathered top and you are set for a beautiful spring day. Fabrics are available in everything from heavier ponte knit to light-weight double-gauze or lawn. Find the ones that are right for your style.

Ocean Escape Fashion Inspiration

Ocean Escape Fashion Inspiration

Be sure to check out the other Trend Collections that we have put together this Spring at Style Maker Fabrics. You can also shop by Fabric Type or Garment Type if that is easier for you as well.

Click on any of the images above to see more of the items or inspiration included in either collection and be sure to watch for more of our Spring Fashion inspiration on our Pinterest page.

Happy Spring Sewing!

Michelle

Marianne Dress

I’m back in the studio this week after visiting my best friend, Cora, for a long weekend, helping her get ready for her first child arriving any time now! She is hoping for Pi Day (3.14.15) but we will just have to wait and see. We worked on sewing diaper covers, made a couple of flannel blankets and got a few more things in place for when the “peanut” comes home. Baby stuff is just too cute!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

Onesie decorating station set up on the kitchen island- stencils, markers, fabric and fusible!

While I was in town I also helpd throw Cora an adorable baby shower for all of her local friends. The nursery is Safari themed so I extended that to the shower as well. We ended up having about 16 people and had lots of fun. We decorated onesies as sort of a crafty project, played a few games and had an amazing brunch- complete with a yogurt parfait bar!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Yogurt Parfait Bar- complete with 9 different toppings. So Yummy!

Before I left on my trip, I had this bright idea to make a safari dress out of an amazing vintage rayon challis we have in the store. But I was kind of fooling myself by thinking that it was spring already, which it isn’t! Instead I went with Christine Haynes latest pattern, the Marianne Dress, and made it in a much warmer, leopard print ponte knit.

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

Completed Marianne Dress in Leopard and Black Ponte Knits

This dress fits like a dream! I paired it with leggings and flats for a casual but put together look. The ponte knit gives the dress just enough structure that it smooths out any areas you may want a little extra support. My only change on this pattern would be the sleeves- for me they were just a tad tight and the cuff seam hits me right where my elbow beds. I think on my next Marianne Dress I might move that seam up or down just a little bit and maybe taper out the sleeve just about a 1/2 inch.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

With the Mother-to-Be at her Safari Themed Baby Shower.

I was looking at Christine’s blog the other day as well and saw some pretty cool adaptations of this pattern that I can’t wait to try. Like an adorable top with 3/4 length sleeves or long sleeve- with or without cuffs. Or tape the patter pieces together and make the dress all out of one type of fabric instead of a main + contrast. So many great ideas! Can’t wait to get sewing my next version… I am thinking stripes, or maybe an interlock version from one of Anna Maria Horner’s amazing fabrics.

Overall, Christine’s Marianne Dress is a great pattern- the directions are so easy to follow and even a beginner can have a great fitting dress compete in an afternoon. I highly recommend this pattern and can’t wait to try one of her other vintage inspired patterns.

I’ll leave you with just one more picture from the shower- some of the cutest sugar cookies ever… Onesies and baby elephant in great pastel colors!

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

Shower Sugar Cookies- Onesies and Elephants

1 7 8 9 10