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Knock it Off - Sewing Like Mad

Friday, November 30, 2012
Wrapping up this week's knock-offs is the wonderful Mie who blogs over at Sewing Like Mad.  I admire her skills so much, and am so honoured that she'd spend the day over here, showing us these hip pants she made!  So many possibilities with this cool look!  Take it away, Mie...

Hi Elegance & Elephant readers. 
I am so happy to be part of this great series of knock off's not only because it is Heidi's blog whom I respect a lot but also in really blogging superstar company - I mean have you seen the line up week after week? I might be an experienced seamstress but blogging wise I am a baby and this is the first ever series I am participating in......and been invited to - thanks Heidi for believing in me! (Too much Oscar speech? okay okay!) 
I think a lot of us started sewing because we saw a garment that was too expensive, sold out or you wanted it in different colors, fabrics etc. I often get inspired by things I see in shops and magazines but because I usually come up with new ideas during the process they rarely end up looking like the original. But they are a great starting points to get the ideas rolling.
When Heidi invited me I immediately knew that I would make these slouchy pants from J.Crew for my almost 5 year old daughter Wilma. I was planning on making them with contrasting fabric like the original but in the mean time I found this amazing selection of grosgrain ribbon from The Ribbon Retreat (and no I am not being paid to say that) and then..... well I changed my mind.
The fabric is a knitted rayon - not super stretchy - and the grosgrain ribbon for the sides is in two different sizes.

J.Crew slouchy pants with contrast side panel. 
My slightly more colorful version.

                                            These pants are pretty simple knit pants with an elastic waist so as a tutorial I thought I would show you how to draft a side pocket plus how a french seam on the pocket bag can make the pants look good inside too.

Here we go:

Start on your front pants pattern and draw the line for the pocket opening. There are no rules - it is more a matter of design and what look you want to give the pants - but remember you have to make the opening big enough for a hand to enter.

Add seam allowance to the pocket opening.

Now it is time to draw the line for the pocket bag incl. seam allowance. Again there are no rules but there has to be room for a hand in there.

Now you have to very precisely trace two pocket bags. The only difference in the two pattern pieces are (as you can see above) the left top corner. The back pocket bag follows the outer line of the pants and the front pocket back follows the pocket opening.

Now you can cut away the top left part of the front pant pattern because you will have the back pocket bag to cover that bit. It is important to note here that I will cut the pocket bags in the same fabric as the pants them self which is obviously the easiest but not always possible. You can do it if the fabric is thin like here but in thicker fabrics like denim, wool or corduroy you will have to do a little extra pattern drafting and sewing but soooorry I won't show that in this tutorial.

If you are a bit confused like me and cut the pants first and then realized I wanted pockets you can use the little top left piece you cut of (see previous photo) to cut that bit of your already cut pants - ahem, great planning here! 
It is always a good idea to put a line of interlining along the pocket opening (on the wrong side of the fabric of course) to avoid the pocket opening to go wavy after sewing.

Sew the front pocket bag to the pants in the pocket opening right side against right side of the fabric.

To sew the front and back pocket bags together with a french seam you have to first sew them reverse against reverse side of the fabric.

Then you turn the pocket inside out and seal the overlock seam (see previous photo) with a stitch and after you have ironed it you will have a very nice looking pocket bag.

Here you see the pocket from the front. Easy? yeeeees!

If anyone is still with me here after it got a bit technical, well thank you!
If you want more you are always welcome at
Last but not least thank you again Heidi.

Knock it Off - Winter Wonderings, Wanderings, and Whatnot

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Welcome to Suzanne from Winter Wonderings, Wanderings, & Whatnot.  She's such an ambitious seamstress who puts so much thought into her beautiful creations.  And I have no idea how she manages it, raising a baby girl and toddler twin boys!  Today she shows us how she made this pretty party dress...thank you, Suzanne!

Hi E&E readers, I can't express how happy I am to be here and a part of this phenomenal series.  I am Suzanne from Winter Wonderings....  I am a 'full time' mom, 'squeeze in the time' professional photographer, and a 'once upon a time' costume designer.  I had put aside sewing for a few years until the birth of my daughter, 14 months after the births of my twin boys.  3 Kiddos and less time for work = tighter purse strings.  I knew I could save money by making some clothes for the kids out of the unworn and unwanted items cluttering my closet... and thus the birth of my blog, my end of summer endeavor Operation: Project $0, and my discovery of this amazing blogging community that I didn't know existed.

JCrew Dress Knock off:
Well if you read my Dilemma Post, you know that this dress almost ended up in the 'circular filing cabinet' rather than finished.  It was never thrown across the room, but it did get left in a puddled lump for days at a time on more than one occasion.  It is NOT perfect, but I am sooooooooooooo happy that I finished it.

Mine: $0

J Crew does this weird thing where they only post front pictures of many styles and then go back weeks later and add a photo of the back.... ummmmm, great.  So I designed the dress 'back unseen', then stumbled upon the real back and scrambled to make a couple alterations so that the knock off would be as close as I could get.  (My original back had a standard high rounded neck and an invisible zipper - you can see I left out the darts - my pieces were already cut to match each other and I just didn't want to change it at the 11th hour ;op)
I made an active choice to sew down the ruffles and have them attached into the bodice.  The combination of  satin and a small size just made me feel like the ruffles would be overwhelming on baby girl unless they were somewhat tamed.  I also made the bodice an empire waist because I think this is easier for babies to wear - toddler and up I would do a standard bodice that hits at or just above the belly button.

Although baby girl did not NEED one more Christmas dress, it makes me really happy to have made something for my daughter for her first Christmas - and I made it a 12 month size so she can also wear it for Valentines day.  I've already been plotting a soft tulle version for Easter (WHAT did I just say I was going to make this thing AGAIN????? Well, tulle wont have to be roll hemmed ;op).

Difficulty: Intermediate/Advanced
 (* if you are a beginning-intermediate sewer who happens to have and love the rolled hem foot, go ahead and tackle this!  OR make it more casual and use a knit)

You will need:
-1.5 yards of Fabric for a Size 12month (or 1/2 of lining and 1 of outer fabric - I used a bridesmaid dress, so I'm guessing a bit on fabric amount)
look at that bridesmaid dress in all it's glory!!!

- metal zipper (mine is stolen from a pair of jeans)

-Basic A line dress pattern with scoop neck bodice (we'll alter it to add the front gathers)
-Template for the ruffles (you can use LBB's here, or do your own - I made my own because of the small size.  I do think a full circle would create a fuller ruffle - hindsight: 20/20 and all that.)
16 cut out ruffles - so pretty, so daunting

-Rolled Hem foot (if you don't have this: choose either a fabric that doesn't need to be hemmed, or practice doing a rolled hem by hand on a piece of curved fabric - maybe it will come naturally for you, but it didn't for me)

*I feel like the construction images I took are hard to decipher, so I made lots of diagrams ;o)
Altering the Bodice:
You will cut your lining pieces and back bodice piece as usual.  The only piece you will change is the Outer Bodice Front.

-Lay your front bodice on a piece of paper to trace
-Trace the bottom, side seam, and center (cut on fold) lines

-Now slide your pattern 1 inch away from your center line and trace the neckline and shoulder seam.
*This will give you two inches to gather at the center, if you want a fuller gather you could add 1.5 or 2 inches (just don't add too much or the bodice will have a poofy look)

- Now you will twist your pattern piece so that the shoulder seam and side seam of the arm hole match, and trace the arm hole.

Here's a look at the comparison of the two pieces and your new pattern.

*I promise, when the front is gathered, the pattern pieces will line up perfectly with one another!

Prepping the ruffles:
-Cut out all your ruffles, I cut 16 but used 15 (the extra is now a rosette accessory)
-You are going to do a rolled hem along the outter(longer) curve and the bottom straight edge.  The top you can leave raw if you are attaching it into the bodice.  If you want them to hang free like the original, hem the top edge too - ensure that your ruffles are the perfect length to end just shy of your seam allowance, the curved edge will stretch a bit just like bias. 
*I suggest cutting an extra or two that you can practice the rolled hem on - all fabrics behave differently, and the technique gets easier as you go along.
Here is a great tutorial for rolled hems - pay attention to the hand position, it made ALL the difference

Attaching the ruffles to the skirt:
What gives this skirt ruffles is that you are sewing a curved piece along a straight line
(*Seriously, go read LBB's tutorial if this condensed version doesn't make sense)

- Lay out your skirt with side seams sewn but the back left open.  You should hem your skirt at this point - it will make your life easier and you will thank me!
-Measure the top and bottom and divide by the number of ruffles you are going to attach (in my case 15: 7 in front and 8 in back, I regret only doing 7 in front because the back is so much fuller with that ONE extra ruffle)
-Mark where each ruffle will be , top and bottom.  Then connect the lines (with fabric pen or chalk)
-Sew One ruffle along each line right side down. (Your skirt should already be hemmed, start at the bottom and sew up to the waist - any overage will get evened up in the waist seam.)
*Line the edge of your fabric against the inside of the foot - 1/8 or smaller of a seam

-Iron the ruffle over so the right side is showing and then top stitch the same way you originally stitched on.

-Pin the free edge of the ruffles down, lined up with the top of the waist then baste in place.

-Trim the edges even with the skirt waist line.

Voila - ruffle skirt ;o)

Bodice Construction:

- First we need to add that cute gathered section to the outer bodice piece.
- Mark your center and measure out 1.5 inches on each side, totaling 3 inches.  
- Sew a basting line along those three inches. (don't back tack at the end)
- Pull your top thread to gather the material
-Hold it up against your lining piece to make sure the neck lines are now the same and top stitch the gathered section to hold your gathers in place
-Sew together your shoulder seams for the lining then the outer bodice

-Lay the two bodices right side together

 - Stitch around the arm holes and neck hole, but not the back seam, side seams, or bottom
- Turn the bodice right side out.  Splay the side seams open and then sew together the front and back in one straight line.

- Press Press Press

For the zipper, I chose to just baste,  turn, and press the center back edges and top stitch the zipper in place (after sewing the bodice to the skirt).  There are many other options, but this was the easiest for me to achieve the look of the original.

And there you have it, a J Crew Knock off!

*If there is anything I failed to explain, just ask... 

Thanks for having me Heidi!!!

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