Archive for June, 2010


Button up white dress

My client came to me in search of a fitted, below knee length white dress with a high boat neckline similar to the neckline on a dress Jackie Kennedy wore, but without any more details than that in mind. For a simple silhouette in a solid white fabric, small details can mean the difference between super chic and fairly plain, so she and I spent some time talking about a range of options for fabric types and details of the garment construction, among them the choices that were available for the closure on her dress. When I mentioned the possibility of buttons instead of a zipper, she nearly jumped out of her seat. “What sort of buttons could I have?” she asked. “Any kind you want,” I told her. She hand selected the buttons herself and picked out a matching pair of heels to complete the outfit. Simple, stylish and comfortable but far from everyday.


Craft Hope project 8

I’d like to take a moment today to depart from my usual talk of dressmaking to address a current need. For those of you who don’t know, I live in Florida, a little north of Tampa and not terribly far from some of the most beautiful beaches in the continental U.S…. for the moment, anyway. I’ve been fairly overwhelmed reading about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: worried, angry, frustrated, horrified, grief-stricken. The implications are staggering, for our environment, our already struggling economy, and the world our kids will inherit. And the spill hasn’t been stopped yet; thousands of barrels of toxic crude oil are continuing to spew into the Gulf, contaminating the fragile ecosystems in the Gulf and along its coastlines.

So I was beyond delighted when a Facebook friend linked to Craft Hope’s latest project, which offers those of us who sew (and also those who knit, crochet, or who make/use fabrics in other ways) to contribute something of tangible worth to the ongoing clean up efforts. Craft Hope Project 8 is calling for handmade rags, the size of wash cloths and hand towels, which will be used to help clean oiled animals rescued along the Gulf coast. They are also accepting donations of Dawn liquid dish detergent, needed to wash the oil away without harm to the animals. The donations will be used to assist The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, theĀ Audubon Nature Institute, and the Mississippi Sandhill Crane National Wildlife Refuge in their cleanup efforts.

As a dressmaker, I go through a lot of fabric. And for years I’ve been reluctant to throw away any piece of fabric large enough that I can imagine some future use for it – even if it’s clearly too small to be used for adult clothing. So I have accumulated a large and varied scrap pile, and yesterday I spent time picking through the pile to pull out any fabrics soft enough and absorbant enough to be useful for the clean up efforts. I cut them down to the smaller sizes needed, and today I’m shipping them off to Craft Hope to be added to the donations from others.

For those of you in Florida, if you are looking for additional options to volunteer, there’s a handy guide on this website listing volunteer groups by county.


For Zanny

I threw this tutorial together quickly for my aunt who wanted to mend a small hole in a relatively new, nice bedsheet. This is the method I use for mending small, regular-shaped holes in clothes or sheets where I don’t want a visible patch. I didn’t do a terribly good job mending the hole I cut in this scrap of muslin, but even a tiny bit more effort would have resulted in a nicer outcome. With that caveat stated upfront, here’s a quick tutorial on how to mend a hole in fabric.

1. Begin with fabric that has a hole.

2. Cut a patch a little wider and longer than the hole, using fabric of a similar weight and color (if you have identical fabric on hand, all the better).

3. Pin the patch over the hole on the wrong side of the fabric.

4. Set up your sewing machine with thread that matches your fabric as perfectly as possible. Use a zigzag stitch that is wider than the tear, but if possible not as wide as shown here (I wanted the stitches to be really visible for the tutorial, in real life I prefer that mended tears aren’t so easy to spot). Use a medium stitch length at this point.

5. Position fabric so that the tear is centered and put your needle down a little before the tear begins. Sew along the length of the tear to a little past the end of the tear.

6. Once you’ve sewn over the tear once, raise your presser foot, turn the fabric around, and reposition so that it’s centered again.

7. Shorten your stitch length to around what you’d use for a buttonhole.

8. Sew over the tear again, and backstitch a couple stitches at the end.

9. The result is a straight row of stitches straddling the old tear. Clip the thread ends.

10. Press the fabric.

11. Turn over so wrong side shows.

12. And trim the excess from the patch that extends beyond your stitching. (Check out how I’m pretending to be left handed so I could take this pic LOL)

Here’s the wrong side of the end product.

And here’s the right side of the fabric.

And there you have it! The patch underneath will reinforce your fabric so that the new stitches don’t just tear through again the next time you wear your garment (or kick your sheets, as the case may be). If you use a thread that matches well, and work with a zigzag that’s a bit narrower than what I used for this tutorial, then the outcome is a fairly nonchalant little row of stitches with no other visible signs of the tear that was.

June 2010
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