Completed: Vacation Skirts

Tonight was my trouser sewing class.  We were set to work on tissue fitting our patterns.  It would have been a whole lot more helpful if I had remembered to bring my pattern peices!  I was in a rush this morning and shot out the door without them.  So unfortunately I don’t have any insights to share on the trouser front.  😦

But I do have a couple more finished projects!  Mr. B and I are going to Hawaii for vacation next week.  So I wanted to make some quick, comfy skirts for the trip.  I was thinking lightweight, zipper-free, and something that can easily get tossed over a swimsuit.  Here’s the first one:
It’s just a really simple elastic waistband skirt.  I didn’t use a pattern, I just cut two pieces of fabric that were 1.5 times my waist measurement, by the length I wanted, plus 2 1/2 inches for the waistband and hem.  There are lots of tutorials online for elastic waistband skirts.  I found these two helpful: Elastic Waist Skirt Tutorial – Mama Edition and How to Make an Elastic Waistband Skirt

After I had the elastic in place, I sewed two lines of stitching through the casing and the elastic to prevent it from rolling or folding over.  I got the idea from my gym shorts!  I stretched the elastic as I sewed over it, so that the waistband would stay nice and stretchy and fit over my hips.  Pulling the elastic and sewing was a little tricky at first, and my stitching isn’t exactly even, but I’m not getting hung up on it.
skirt waistband

When the skirt was done, I felt it looked a little too plain.  So I added a some embroidery to one corner.  The design came from the Hoop Love Vintage Transfers group on Flickr.

skirt embroidery
skirt embroidery

The second skirt is actually a refashion.  I had this dress/coverup thing that I never wore because the top didn’t fit right, and it was super short on me.


So I hacked off the bodice . . .

and then sewed a piece of 2 inch wide flat elastic to the skirt.

I love the result.  The skirt is really comfy, was a super easy to do, and I know I’ll get a lot more use out of it now.
This was also my first refashion.  I see more of these in my future!


Tagless Garment Labels

Yesterday I said I’d share how I incorporated some embroidery into my latest project.  So to make good on my promise, here it is:

Embroidered Tag

Very simple, I know.  It’s just a small monogram embroidered into the back of my dress to serve as a “tagless” garment label.  I’ve been wanting to buy or make some personalized tags, but haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Then when I starting thinking about how I might include some embroidery into my projects, I thought why not make a tag?  First, I considered embroidering a separate piece of fabric and then sewing it in.  But then I thought why not just embroider straight onto my lining?  So that’s what I did.  Here’s how I did it.

First thing to note – I embroidered my lining before I did any sewing.  I looked at a couple of my finished dresses, and decided it would be too difficult to add the embroidery after the dress was constructed.

1. Find the design you want to embroider.  There are so many options!  You could buy iron-on transfers, like this booklet:


Or, hit the internet.  Some sites I like and/or found helpful are:

Sublime Stitching – Has really cute designs.

Hoop Love Vintage Transfers Flickr Group – A nice collection of free vintage templates.

Needle’N’Thread – Another source of free templates and a good embroidery resource overall.

Free Printable Stencils – Free Alphabet templates (I found my design here).

2. Cut out lining pieces and stay stitch the neckline.  (This is important.  It will help avoid distorting the neckline when you put the fabric in the embroidery hoop – plus it’s a good idea to always stay stitch anyways!)

3.  Transfer your image to your fabric.  There are different ways to do this.  Sublime Stitching and Needle’N’Thread discuss different methods.  For this project, since the dress lining was a dark color, but also thin, I used the low tech “window method.”

4.  I printed out my design onto plain white paper, and taped it to my window.
Embroidered Tag

5. Then I taped my lining piece on top of that, and traced the design with a white marking pencil.  (This is my soap stone pencil, which is my favorite white marking tool, btw.)
Embroidered Tag

A note about placement – make sure you leave enough room for your seam allowances, and make sure you transfer your design onto the right side of the fabric.
Embroidered Tag

6. After your design is traced, carefully place the fabric in the embroidery hoop and stitch away.  The Needle’N’Thread website has a great list of Tips and Techniques, and has several videos of different embroidery stitches.  I used the easy and beginner friendly backstitch.

Embroidered Tag

7. After your done, you’re ready to sew up your garment as usual.
Embroidered Tag

8. And voila!  You now have an easy, custom, tagless garment label!
Embroidered Tag

Embroidery – All The Cool Kids Are Doing It

I’ve noticed a little trend spreading around the online sewing community lately – Embroidery!  And I think it’s great.  I love hand embroidery.

Recently Rochelle and Jo posted some really cute projects, and it got me seriously thinking about embroidery again.  This is a craft that has been in my family for years.  My great-grandmother was a prolific embroiderer.  As a kid I had several framed pieces of her work hanging in my bedroom.  And I remember one Christmas when my mom and grandmother worked together on a huge embroidery wall picture of a mountain scene.  I’m pretty sure it’s still hanging in grandma’s house.

My great-grandma also made practical items.  Luckily I still have some of her flour-sack towels!

Here’s Bake Day (my favorite – it’s perfect for wrapping up warm rolls out of the oven)
Bake Day Embroidered Towel
And Iron Day.
Iron Day Embroidered Towel

Look at the back sides – almost as clean as the front:

Reverse of Iron Day
Reverse of Bake Day

I’m surprised how well the floss has held up, it’s not faded at all. These towels are at least 30 years old!

Bake Day Embroidered Towel

Bake Day Embroidered Towel

I also have this piece of really really old embroidery.  It’s a silk hankie that’s been in my family since the 1890’s.  Amazing.  I need to get this properly preserved.  Sorry for the wrinkles, but I wasn’t about to iron it!

1887 Embroidery

1886 Embroidery

So all of this stitchy goodness has me itching to get to work!  I pulled out my stash of embroidery floss and have been plotting away.

Embroidery Floss
I’ve got plans to incorporate a tiny bit of embroidery in my next project.  I’ll share the details tomorrow.