I am so excited to finally be releasing my newest pattern, the Shelby Dress and Romper. I have been wearing this pattern on vacations and every warm day possible and I can definitely say that it is the summer outfit of my dreams. It has a serious nod to the 90s with a modern fit. The design includes princess seams, a back waist tie, a deep V neck line and button front closure. It’s very comfortable and easy to throw on but makes me feel so put together and ready for a date night at the same time.
We will talk more about fabric next week, but for now just know that this dress is perfect for the flowy summer wovens in your stash. These fabrics may include rayon challis, silk, light weight linen and crepe to name a few. You will also need some light weight fusible interfacing and small 3/8″ buttons to complete the project.
The pattern is labeled intermediate due to it’s buttonholes and sleeves, but I do think that a beginner could handle it if they broke it down into small steps and used a forgiving fabric. In fact, we will be doing a full sewalong of the Shelby pattern starting Monday May 27th to assist anyone in sewing it up, so please join us for that. I also have a few really fun hacks planned so be sure to check back for those in the coming weeks.
After putting together some summer sewing plans, I decided that I really wanted to play around with bleaching and distressing denim in order to achieve the perfect worn in look for a pair of 70s inspired Landers and a Closet Case Patterns Fiona Dress. I wasn’t really sure where to start, but after digging deep into pinterest I finally found two great blog posts that I relied heavily on (Megan Nielsen and Alina Design Co.). I ended up combining them along with some trial and error for my own method, but I do recommend checking them both out if you want to give this a try for yourself.
I started with three different types of Denim from my stash. Because they were from my stash I am not certain on the weights, colors, brands etc… of the denims, but they are all stretch denims and two were cone mills. I was interested to see how the spandex would be affected by the bleach but also knew that I wanted the clothing made from these to have some stretch recovery so I stuck with them. Before I go any deeper I should say that every denim reacted differently and so I do not recommend you going forward with bleaching an item without first doing a test like this one. It’s simple and worth the experiment.
MARK YOUR DENIM
The first thing you need to do is mark each of your swatches. You will be surprised how hard it is to differentiate between the denims once they are in the bleach bath so it is very important that you mark them all with a permanent marker on the back. Be sure to have one swatch for each denim type that is the original, meaning that it will not go in the bath at all, so you have something to compare it to.
I wrote some initials to give me an idea of which denim it was, along with how long that swatch would be in the bath. So, each denim had an original swatch and one for 15 min, 30 min, 45 min, 1 hr, and 2 hrs.
I also decided to sew a few seams in some. If I were being more thorough I would have sewn seams in all of them, but I was being a bit lazy so I just did it on the 15 min and 1 hr swatches for each type of denim. I wanted to see how the bleach took to the seam edge and also wanted to play around with the seam later during distressing.
Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures of this part, but it’s easy enough to explain. I used a 4:1 ratio of water to bleach so that I could replicate it easily on a larger scale once I do my bigger ones down the road. So for me this meant 16 cups of water and 4 cups of bleach stirred up into a large plastic bin. I grabbed a spoon that I could ruin and kept a timer close and went to work.
I dropped them all in at the same time and tried to stir them all for the first 15 minutes. I wasn’t as vigilant after that. The first thing that I noticed right away is that some of the swatches wanted to roll up. I think next time I would wet them all first which I am hoping would help with that. I ended up getting a few uneven spots as a result of the rolling. If I had gloves on I probably could have done a better job of getting them flat though.
One thing to note is that the water began to get pretty yellow pretty fast. I have been told that it has something to do with the spandex in the fabric so consider yourself warned.
Once the first 15 min. time went off I pulled out the three 15 min swatches and plunged them into a big bucket of water. Then I just continued the timer until all were done.
As soon as they were all out of the bath I put them into a washer with detergent and ran a cycle. Then I dried them all on high. Here is what I ended up with (The top one is the original and then its 15 min, 30 min, 45 min, 1 hr, and 2 hrs) :
I find it interesting that almost all of the change happened within the first 30 min. If I were to do it again I would probably do 5 or 10 min increments instead of 15 for the first 45 minutes. Another thing of note is the color undertones you get with the different denims. The true blue denims stayed within the cool hues even in the most bleached swatches, while the blue/black denim in the middle starts to take on a yellow tint as it gets lighter. I don’t necessarily prefer one to the other, but it is something to think about.
DISTRESSING YOUR DENIM
Now that the swatches are all bleached it’s time to play with distressing the denims. I grabbed three different weights of sandpaper from my garage – 60, 120 and 300 grit. The 60 is the more coarse sandpaper while the 300 is more fine. I thought I would prefer the 300 but was surprised that I actually liked the 60 the best. I just found that the sandpaper really began to pill the fabric so the fewer swipes the better. The 60 grit did the job right away.
I havn’t tried the distressing with topstitching yet but I was told that you shouldn’t let the sandpaper touch the topstitching at all. This makes sense of course because it will destroy the thread. This may be a little tricky since I plan to bleach and distress once my garments are all sewn up, but I am guessing I will just have to be super careful.
I did find out right away that the softer denim with the most amount of spandex could not handle the distressing. It just ate the fabric. But both of the cone mill denims with minimal spandex worked great. I am assuming an all cotton, no stretch denim would work even better.
I absolutely love the way both the bleaching and distressing turned out. I realize it weakens the fabric so I need to be careful, but it gives such a beautiful, lived in look that I can’t wait to try it on actual clothing. My plan for now is to go with a bleach time in the 30 – 45 min range, knowing that the fabric will naturally get lighter and more distressed over time with wear. I am hoping to get to sewing up the clothing some time in May or June and will post more about it then.
After sewing up hundreds of Hudson pants since it’s release, I have come up with a couple of alternative methods for sewing up the waistband / drawstring which make for a faster sew. This method works for all versions of the Hudson patterns, although I find it especially helpful for the kids Hudson pant pattern and here is why. I love the look of a drawstring for finishing the pant, but it is not very functional for a child, especially those who are on the younger side. Not only do those draw strings get pulled out and lost, but they can be a real struggle for those who cannot tie bows yet, but need to use the bathroom by themselves at school. So, instead of doing a full drawstring as the instructions suggest, I have come up with these two quick methods that give me the look I want without the headache of the actual drawstring.
Method 1 – This method is as simple as sewing up the pants as normal but omitting the buttonholes. I still like to do the stretch topstitching on the waistband for the look and also to keep the elastic from twisting in the wash, but that is optional. This method is especially good for those who are scared of sewing buttonholes. Once you have the pants prepped you also want to take a small piece of drawstring, tie a bow to the size you want, and finish the ends of the drawstring so that they don’t unravel.
Now it’s as simple as centering the bow on center front and then sewing back and forth on either side of the knot. If you are using a matching thread you won’t even be able to see the stitching and no one will know that it is a faux drawstring. Make sure that you are sewing through all parts of the bow on the sides of the middle knot to make sure it doesn’t untie.
That is it for method 1. This is honestly what I use the most for my kids Hudsons because it’s easy and gets the job done.
Method 2 – If you want to take it a step further and are not scared of buttonholes, you may want to try method 2. It’s a bit more involved than method 1 but still easy and creates the look of the drawstring without the ability for it to get pulled out.
You are going to sew up your Hudsons just like the pattern suggests including sewing and opening your buttonholes.
Then you will need to two separate pieces of drawstring with one end of each finished. The raw ends will be inserted into the buttonholes.
Take each raw end and insert into each buttonhole by about 1/2″. The 1/2″ should be pointing away from center front, inside of the waistband. Stitch back and forth several times, just to the outside of the buttonhole, catching the 1/2″ in the stitching the secure.
It should look like the drawstring is in the entire waistband, while actually it is only in the front.
Tie the two drawstring pieces into a bow and you are good to go!
I hope you found these two methods helpful for the next time you sew up some Hudsons!
Welcome to the last day of the Salida Skirt Sewalong. Thank you so much for following along. Let me know if you have any questions.
Step 35 – Starting at center back, edgestitch the entire waistband at 1/8” from the finished edge, pivoting at corners.
Step 36 – Zip up the skirt and mark the position for the waistband hook and eye. Hand sew onto the waistband as shown. Make sure that you only sew through the inside layer on the outer part of the hook and eye. I usually sew this one on first since it is more tricky.
For the smaller, inside part of the hook and eye, feel free go through all layers since it won’t be show on the inside waistband.
VIEW A ONLY (For View B, skip to Step 38)
Step 37 – All done except for the hem! Fold the bottom raw edge of the skirt up by 1/4”, wrong sides touching, and press.
Fold up again by 3/4”. Pin and press.
To secure the hem, stitch close to the fold.
VIEW B ONLY:
Step 38 – Fold the bottom raw edge of the middie skirt up by 1/4”, wrong sides touching, and press. Fold up again by 1/4”. Pin and press. To secure the hem, stitch close to the fold.
Today is the day when Heather and I finally announce the winners of the Sew Frosting Challenge.
First, let me say that you blew us away with your talent, effort, and love for sewing things that are simply fabulous. You made the decision so hard. I hope that even if you didn’t win, you enjoyed participating and sewing something that pushed you a bit out of your comfort zone. I know that for me, this was an important few months for to really reflect on why I sew and what brings me the most joy to create. I already have ideas for what I want to create next year.
Just like the amazing Oona, Katie rocks the color. She is also a fine artist which really brought her project to the next level. Not only is this dress fabulous on it’s own, but she hand painted the fabric! I love her confidence and how it shines in this dress.
Elora really brought out her couture skills with this gorgeous rose ball gown. Not only is it gorgeous from the outside, but the structure of the dress is is amazing too. One day I want the skills (and patience) of Elora.