Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

Polka-Dot Kalle Shirtdress

I love a good shirtdress. In fact, shirts and shirtdresses are what I’ve sewn the most in the past year or so. I have an assortment of shirtdress patterns in my library, but I still couldn’t pass up trying Closet Case Pattern’s Kalle shirt/shirtdress. Especially after seeing the version made up by True Bias! It looked so effortless and comfortable. Luckily, I’d have this polka-dotted shirting fabric in my stash waiting for the perfect pattern to shine.

 

 

I adore this dress. I wanted to wear it so badly, that I used the snaps in my stash rather than waiting to run to the shop for a set of buttons! It’s comfortable, breezy, and I still feel well put together when I wear it. It has versatility to be worn in the fall with tights, a belt, and sweater, or in the summer with sandals! Not to mention the other versions, the tunic to wear over leggings or the crop top for just about everything! And the neckline variations of the band collar, popover placket, or hidden placket. Speaking of which… there might be a band collar popover placket cropped shirt coming up soon.

I sewed up a size 10 with no changes to the fit of the pattern. The shape and fit of the sleeve/sleeve band is great. I know that some bloggers found the thigh curve to be too high, but I like it as drafted because it feels like it allows for leg movement.

Between my husband’s and my taste in clothing, I’ve become admittedly pretty good at a collar and button placket! The directions were written out well, and the sew-along was great with further clarification. I was pleasantly surprised when this pattern was still able to teach me something. One of the things that slows me down when sewing a collar is ensuring that the top stitching catches the under collar. I’d ensure this with hand sewing the seams together, which disrupts my sewing flow and slows me down. The Kalle directions recommend using iron-on hem tape or fabric glue to hold it in place, then top stitching. This worked like a charm! It was fast and clean, everything was held in place like I wanted it. I’ll definitely be using this technique again.

I have a popover placket shirt Kalle cut out and half sewn on my sewing table currently. I couldn’t even wait a month before starting another one! So expect to see that shortly.

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Tutorial: Small Crossbody Bag

Tutorial: Small Crossbody Bag

DSC05030.jpgApparently, my purses are a measure of extremes. I have a super large purse that could fit a few small dogs inside of it, and this little crossbody bag. It holds my phone,  wallet, keys and a tube of lipstick but that’s about it. And honestly, that’s all I need 90% of the time! It’s lightweight, and because it’s crossbody it stays out of the way without having to readjust all the time.

I made this pattern based on a crossbody purse that I had already owned which had seen better days. About 4 years of use will do that to a bag. I took my measurements from it, and made my own pattern.

This pattern is best done with heavy weight fabrics to provide the structure and support to the bag. Anything from home decor fabric, to denim, and vinyl will work. My first purse used a heavyweight velveteen twill, but this one is made out of a Goodwilled wool skirt! Be creative with your fabric selections. And if you do end up falling in love with a quilting cotton (I know, I’ve been there) be sure to use a heavyweight interfacing on it, or use WunderUnder to fuse it to a second quilting cotton, so that it has more support.

Supplies for this project include:

  • heavy weight fabric
  • safety pin or loop turner.
  • Scraps of interfacing and magnetic clasp (if you want the purse to securely close)

You will need to draft one pattern piece for this project, everything else  is just rectangles. Let’s get to work!

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The pattern piece drafted will be 9″x7″, with the corners of one of the long edges curved to give your purse a curved bottom.

Pieces you need:

  • Body of purse: Cut 2 of the pattern peice and cut 1 long rectangle 2″x25″
  • Flap of purse: Cut 2 of the pattern piece with 2 inches added to the flat edge
  • Strap of purse: Cut 1 long rectangle 2″x54″. If your fabric isn’t long enough, a bit of piecework will need to be done to make sure that it’s not a baby sized strap.
  • Support: 2 squares of interfacing 1″x1″

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Start by pinning one of the pieces of the body of the purse to the smaller strap (2″x25″) with right sides together. I always cut this rectangle too long, so if it’s too long for your bag don’t worry about it and just cut off the extra later. It will be a challenge to ease it in around the rounded edges, so use as many pins as you feel necessary. Then, sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Repeat with the other piece of the body. At this point, I serge this edge but you may also use fray check or pinking shears. Depending on the fabric you use, give these seams a bit of a steam and press so they lay nicer. The curved bottom generally benefits from this. Boom, you have the beginning of a bag!

We’re now going to finish the top edge of this bag. Finish the raw edge the same as before (serge, fray check, pinking shears) then turn it over 1/2 inch and sew it down so you have a nice folded edge at the top. The bag photographed for this tutorial was a skirt so my edges were already finished, and I just needed to top stitch the rectangle down.

Take the two flap pieces and pin around the edges with right sides together, leaving the flat edge open. Sew together with a 3/8″seam allowance, then trim. Turn right sides out, and iron flat.

At this point, make a decision if you want to use the magnetic clasp or not. If so, lay the flap on the front of the bag so the curved edges line up, an assess where you want the clasp to lay. I have mine about 1 1/2 in from the bottom of the flap in the center. Mark this point with a pin, and turn the flap inside out again. Iron on one of the small 1″x1″ squares of interfacing over this point on the wrong side of the fabric. Attach the magnetic clasp to this point. We will put the other one on after the flap has been sewn on.

Take the sewn flap pieces ironed flat right side out, and turn the raw edges within by about 1/2″. Pin, and machine baste. Lay the flap over the purse so that the magnetic clasp is against the body of the purse and the curved edges of the flap and bag line up with each other. Fold the flat edge of the flap to the back of the purse, pin in place, then sew down.

Look at where the magnetic clasp lays on the bag, mark that point. Apply the other square of interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric at this point, and attach the second magnetic clasp. You now have a clutch! If you wish to stop here without adding a strap, you may. But I personally love a crossbody bag, so…

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Fold over the long 2″x54″ inch strap right sides together, and sew with a 3/8″ seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance to reduce bulk, then turn the strap right side out. You can do this with a loop turner, or if you don’t have one a safety pin works as well. Iron flat, top stitch on each side of the strap 1/8″ from the edge.

You will be folding over the last 1″ of each end of the strap. Pin this to the sides of the purse to see if the length is right for what you want, because once it’s on there’s no adjusting! If not, cut off excess length to make it right for your body. Once it’s fit to you, pin the folded over straps to the side and sew. I sew in a square around the edge of the folded over section, then make an X in the middle to secure it. If you’re concerned about it, back stitch a LOT and it won’t go anywhere. Tada! You’re done! You’ve made your very own cross body bag, for all your minimal bag needs.

This is my first written sewing tutorial, so if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask and leave feedback.

My Sewing Method

When I first started sewing apparel, I had a “go for it” kind of attitude. My mother had given me the foundations of sewing throughout my childhood, including knowing how to operate a sewing machine, serger, and rotary cutter. But she had never taught me how to make apparel. To get started, I found a vintage sewing pattern that was in my grandmother’s stash, a polyester from my mom’s stash, and just went at it. It was a simple trapeze dress, and I’m not sure that I even followed all the directions. I still have that pattern, and really wish that I had traced the pattern rather than cutting it out because now, I’m stuck with one size and one to two versions of the dress.

Choose the fabric and/or pattern

Starting with fabric: I know how it is at the fabric store. You fall in love with a fabric and you have nothing in mind for what to make with it. Soon you’ll accumulate a stash and months later come back to the fabric and ask, what was I thinking? This is when you assess the fabric. What is the drape and thickness good for? If it’s a thick twill, it might be best off for bottoms (skirts, pants, shorts), structured dresses, or accessories (purses). If it’s a lightweight fluid fabric, you’re likely looking at blouses or dresses with a lot of give. Dig into the patterns you own, the patterns available through the Big 4, and the indie patterns throughout the world. Find something that speaks to both you, and the fabric. Because if there is one thing to learn from this, is that it’s difficult to force a fabric onto a pattern.

Starting with a pattern: This is a bit easier to manage, as the pattern gives you general guidelines on what fabric to be on the lookout for and a vision in mind. Again, the fabric recommendations should be taken with a grain of salt, but do not force a fabric onto a pattern. If it calls for a woven and you want to use a knit, there are tutorials online for how to do that conversion. If you’re making a blouse and it calls for a lightweight woven, do not use a super heavyweight fabric because it will not have enough give. Keep in mind the work that will go into matching patterns, plaids, and stripes when buying fabric, and the laundering requirements for the fabric. I try to take a picture of the end bolt when I buy it so I know the fiber content and the laundry instructions for later on.

Size yourself

This took the longest for me to understand and accept. You are your own size, and the patterns aren’t always going to fit you right out of the envelope. I trusted the recommended sizes for a lot of patterns, and often it works out. But when it doesn’t, it’s incredibly disappointing. BE SKEPTICAL OF THE SIZING. If you want it fitted, take the pattern pieces out, measure the width or length, do some math calculating in seam allowances, and calculate how much ease there is. If there’s 3 inches of ease around the bodice that is supposed to be fitted, make adjustments or select a different size. If your hips are a size 12 and your bodice a size 10, grade the sizes together. It’ll make for a much better fitted garment and a happier seamstress. There’s tons of tutorials online to do this, give it a try and you’ll be much more satisfied with what you make.

Trace pattern onto tracing paper

Once you’ve chosen your fabric and have your pattern size determined, I trace my pattern. This is so that I can make adjustments to the pattern for sizing such as a full bust adjustment, hacks to the design, or simply to keep the paper pattern intact to use a different size or version in the future. Pellon sells tracing pattern which is wonderful for this, but there are others you can use and even directly sew up and make adjustments to. Once my patterns are traced, I simply keep them in a gallon sized bag labeled with the pattern enclosed.

Organize which are interfaced, interface yardage first

I find block interfacing helpful in maintaining the integrity of the cut, interfaced pattern pieces. If I don’t block interface, I end up with either the fabric or interfacing too large and it affects the piece. To do this, organize which pattern pieces need interfacing. Lay them over the fashion fabric, and decide how much yardage needs to be interfaced for these pieces. Interface the whole piece, then cut out the individual pieces. The exception to this is collars, where the collar seam allowance is left uninterfaced to reduce bulk.

Lay, cut, mark

Finally, you can lay out your pattern pieces on the fashion fabric and cut them out. I use a rotary cutter for a majority of my cutting, and mark darts and pleats with a combination of chalk and tailor’s tacks. To make with chalk, I insert a pin into the point of the pattern piece and rub my chalk along the point of the pin on the fashion fabric. Then, follow your pattern directions and sew to your heart’s content!