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DENIM BLEACHING & DISTRESSING EXPERIMENTS

April 29, 2019

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.

BLEACH BATH

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.

SEWING FOR KIDS TUTORIALS

HUDSON ALTERNATIVE DRAWSTRING METHODS

March 8, 2019

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!

MAKES SEWING TUTORIALS

BODY CON MIDDI NIKKO DRESS TUTORIAL

September 28, 2018

 

The original Nikko pattern includes pattern pieces for a top (with or without sleeves) that is fitted, and a dress that is straighter through the waist and hips. I wanted to combine the two for a Nikko dress that is more body con like the top is. It’s a very easy hack so I thought I would share.

First of all you will use the top pattern pieces instead of the dress one since it has the more fitted waistline. I decided to use the sleeved version, but this would just as easily work for the sleeveless one. The only pattern pieces that you will be adjusting is the front and back. The neckband and also the sleeves or sleeve facings stay the same.

All you are going to do is lengthen the center front and center back straight down as those are cut on the fold. For the side seams you want to gradually angle it in about an inch so that it is fitted at mid calf. How long you extend it is up to you, but I would say somewhere between 20-30 inches from the original hem.

Once you have cut and sewn the Nikko according the the instructions, I find it really helpful to try the dress on inside out and mark any areas that I want to pull in a bit and make adjustments. I then hemmed it using fusible knit tape like the pattern suggests. Because the pattern calls for really stretchy knits you don’t actually need a slit at the hem, just make sure that you use a very forgiving stretch stitch to finish it.

Let’s talk a bit about fabric. I used a thick ribknit from The Fabric Store for this. I think that the thickness really is key to a body con dress so that it has more coverage. Rib knits are especially good for this. They kind of hide any lines or bumps that you may not want to draw attention to.

That’s it! Super easy hack for a fun dress. Can’t wait to wear it for date night.

TUTORIALS

RIT DYING FOR LANDERS

September 5, 2018

I’ve had a hard time finding the exact color of non stretch denim that I wanted for some Lander pants, so I decided to give fabric dying a go. I went with RIT because it was easy to find and inexpensive. Honestly I had no idea or confidence in how this was going to go, so I didn’t want to invest too much. For fabric, I went with my tried and true bull denim in natural. White would work as well, but since I knew that I wanted a darker color in the end, I figured the natural was more likely to get me there.

I did two separate dye batches. I scoured the RIT website which has a great section on color formulas and went with potter’s clay as my first batch.

I bought the three colors it asked for – tangerine, apple green, and scarlet and got to work.

Essentially I just followed the directions on the bottle and on the website. I added salt which was recommended and used this paper towel to test the color before adding my fabric. One thing that made a more successful product this time (compared to past attempts) was getting a large enough bucket so there was a lot of movement, and also stirring a lot for the first 10 minutes.

I let it soak for a few hours with occasional stirring because I knew that I wanted a deep color.

The end result is this beautiful deep rust color that I love so much. I would say that it is a little more red than the intended hue, but it is still such a gorgeous color that I can’t be upset.

Next up, I wanted a true camel brown. It’s my favorite color to wear with a simple black turtleneck in the fall so I knew I needed to make it. I looked again at the RIT color formulas and landed on caramel.

I bought the golden yellow and cocoa brown dyes and used the same natural colored bull denim.

I used the same process as before and ended up with a perfect medium camel color.

All in all a big success. The only change I might make next time is to add a small amount of black to my dye to get a darker hue.

I can’t wait to make up a couple of Lander pants with these for the fall and winter which is fast approaching.

SEWALONG SEWING TUTORIALS

YARI JUMPSUIT – WIDE LEG HACK

July 3, 2018

I have been meaning to show you guys this super easy Yari Jumpsuit hack for awhile now and I am so glad that I finally did because it’s one of my fav. things in my wardrobe. I have been seeing this oversized, easy to wear, wide leg jumpsuit all over ready to wear recently so I hope you guys are excited about it as I am.

This hack can be done with the sleeved or sleeveless versions and you can of coarse you the D rings if you want, but to really get the same look that I have been seeing in stores, you want to do the sleeveless, no ring option.

I decided to go with a black linen rayon blend that I had in my stash which worked great, but I think I am going to make another one soon with lighterweight rayon or crepe for one with more movement.

To adjust the pattern pieces I am going to be adjusting all four main pattern pieces along the legs. You won’t be messing with the inner sides of the pattern pieces that are straight and create the princess seam down the front and back as these lines are already parallel to the grainline. Instead you will be adjusting the curved outer lines only, making them parallel to the grainline as well. It’s that simple. The only trick is to make sure that you adjust the front and back side pieces from the same point and the front and back inner pieces from the same point so that they match up when you are sewing them together.

Let’s start with the outer front piece. Starting at the hip, right before it starts to curve in for the tapered leg, simply draw a line straight down, parallel to the grainline. I find that right about the hip notch is perfect to start. Now continue the hem line out to meet this new outer leg line. That’s it!

 

Repeat what you just did for the side back, being sure to mimic the line you made on the outer front piece so that they match up when sewn.

 

Now you are going to do the same thing with the center front piece at the crotch. There is some wiggle room here, but essentially I start about 2 inches down from the top of the crotch and begin to gradually make the line straight and parallel to the grainline. If you want the pants a bit wider, start closer to the crotch.

 

Repeat for the center back piece, starting the line at the same place you did for the center front so that it matches up when sewn.

 

 

That’s it! Sew the pattern up according to the directions. I chose to crop these a bit by taking 2 inches off of the hem and then turning up another 2 inches for a wider looking hem, but hem length is up to you.

 

 

Let me know if you have any questions! I am pretty obsessed with this simple hack.

If you would like to purchase the Yari pattern you can do so here and here.