The Ballard Top Pattern by Straight Stitch Designs

Howdy and welcome to my stop on the Ballard Top Pattern Tour!

I “met” my friend Kimberly of Straight Stitch Designs in the Pattern Workshop* Facebook Group. As soon as I saw her there, it seemed I saw her everywhere! We found ourselves in the same tester groups and on the same pattern fan pages so it has been fun work alongside each other, long-distance-like. When she posted her first pattern tester call for the Ravenna, I was completely bummed because I was loaded down with other projects and couldn’t take advantage of earning this great pattern through testing it. It didn’t stop me from grabbing my own copy once it was published though!

Ravenna Top by Straight Stitch Designs

Kimberly Modeling the Ravenna Top – Click the picture to see more and to purchase the pattern!

Isn’t it beautiful?! It has a high low hem, exposed zipper back and optional ruffle along the back neckline. I can’t wait to make my own version. BUT – That’s not why we’re here! So let me get on to the Ballard Top!

The Ballard Top | JaimeSews

The Ballard Top (available exclusively through IndieSew for it’s first two weeks of release), is Straight Stitch Designs’ second pattern release, a tunic-length top designed for knits. Kimberly’s style has been describe as classic with a twist – and the Ballard is definitely that because…wait for it…here’s the back!

Ravenna Top by Straight Stitch Designs

The front is modest, comfy and easy to wear, but the back criss crosses in such a way so it opens up for a little sassy detail! So no worries about bending down to pick up kids or toys or schlepping groceries from the cart to the car…but no worries about looking like “frumpy mom” either! Gotta love that!

The Ballard Top goes together in no time! After printing out the pattern and taping it together, I easily graded between the nested sizes to get the right fit according to my measurements. I got this knit from F&M Fabrics, of course (online at thefabricmarket.com). The entire top can be made on your home sewing machine with a ball point/stretch needle and a narrow zigzag (or stretch straight stitch if your machine has one). No serger needed! Although you could certainly use one just as easily.

The Ballard Top | JaimeSews

I’m really excited for what Kimberly has up next – I got a sneak peak of the next pattern and she’s definitely a new designer you’ll want to follow! Also, check out the other tester versions of The Ballard Top in the rest of the blog tour.

Ballard Blog Tour | JaimeSews

 

*Affiliate Link

Halloween 2014

I have been working on Halloween Costumes all month and was so excited to finish this past Friday, just in time for our local Boo at the Zoo. This year my son broke my sewing heart when he asked for a store-bought costume instead of a handmade costume like we always do. To his credit, he didn’t actually dismiss a handmade costume. He just asked to be a clone trooper and that is definitely a territory I’m not willing to venture into the handmade way. But I had a ton of fun making Miss E’s Super Girl Costume and it kept me plenty busy! We used McCall’s 7001.

Because I’ve always found the Big pattern company patterns to be wide and short, I started off with a muslin. I cut her bodice size from some unbleached cotton and sewed it up without closures to test for fit. As I suspected, it was too wide, so I pinched out some vertical tucks in the pattern to adjust for the width and went to work on the real dress.

Super Girl Costume | JaimeSews

I got absolutely everything I needed from F&M Fabrics locally – but you can shop at their online shop from wherever you are! They have a great selection of satin and tulle, not to mention vinyl, notions & thread and the best prices around. You should see the vinyl boot covers and cuffs I made – the ones I stayed up late Friday night to finish so we could go to Boo at the Zoo…? Yeah, she wouldn’t wear them. She just got these cowgirl boots and won’t take them off or have them covered, so Super Cow Girl it is!

Halloween 2014 | JaimeSews

Boo at the Zoo is lots of fun! Besides the animals, there are lots of games and a playground.

Halloween 2014 | JaimeSews

My little storm trooper proved to be great protection against the scary dinosaurs on the train ride!

I made the costume just as instructed, except for the removable cape. The instructions asked me to make 3 thread eyes on the top of each shoulder seam. Then I needed to sew three hooks on the cape. I a) didn’t want to do that and b) wasn’t sure how it’d hold up. I briefly considered velcro, but was concerned it would get caught up on the tulle skirt in the wash. Then it occurred to me – KAM SNAPS!

Halloween 2014 | JaimeSews

So that’s what we did! And it worked perfectly.

Super Girl | JaimeSews

Those of you who follow my Instagram feed might be wondering where my matching costume is? Well for now, it’s all laid out in our bedroom until Friday Night. I wish I were better at Photoshop to make it look as epic as it feels every time I pass it – like a super hero displays their uniform in that glass structure…? It’s going to be fun. Watch that IG feed for the costume in action. :)

Super Mom | JaimeSews

There were a lot of components to these costumes this year – dress, shorts, cuffs, belt, cape, boot covers – the pattern even has pieces for a mask or star appliques on the skirt and it could easily be made into bat girl or any super hero for that matter. I love making costumes as you can choose fabrics that hold up or are more comfortable. For exacmple, I was able to line the satin bodice in cotton. I would love to see your costumes this year!! Please leave me pics or links in the comments below. Until next year, Happy Halloween!

Halloween 2014 | JaimeSews

*This Post may contain affiliate links*

MCM Studio Designs’ Estherlyn Jumper Tutorial

Today on the blog I’ve invited Linda Lehn of MCM Studio Designs to share a tutorial with you! Hint: She’ll show you an easy alternative for making ruffles! Take it away Linda!

Thank you so much, Jaime, for allowing me to write a guest post!  I am delighted and honored to be here.

Today I am excited to share a tutorial for a modification that can be made to my Estherlyn’s Jumper pattern.  The pattern is available through Craftsy, my Big Cartel Shop and my Etsy Shop.

In this tutorial I will show you how to add ruffles to the front and hem of the jumper.
Thank you to Lily AnnaBella, Faith and Kristie Mason Photography for the modeled photos.
I have had this idea in my head ever since I first drew a sketch for this pattern.  I was really excited to get a chance to give it a go!
So here’s how you do it.
After cutting out the pattern, you will need to mark placement lines for the ruffles.
First make marks 3/4 inch (2 cm) above the bottom edge of the fabric at the center and side of the skirt piece. Do this with the skirt piece still folded in the center.

After that, to determine how far apart to draw your placement lines, measure from the mark at the center to the center top of the skirt piece.  Subtract 3/8 inch (1cm) for the seam allowance at the top.  This distance will vary with different sizes.

I decided that I wanted nine ruffles in between because I wanted my ruffles to be 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm) wide. Nine ruffles that size gave me the closest to an even measurement that was slightly less than the 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm).  This distance needs to be a slightly smaller width than the ruffle itself so that the ruffles will overlap.  It wasn’t exact, but it was close enough. It took a little calculating to get a measurement that was easy to work with.
Dividing that measurement by nine gave me approximately 2 1/8 inches (5.4 cm).
Take that measurement and measure up from the first line at the center and make a mark.  Do the same at the side edge of the skirt piece.  Continue making marks like this until you get to the top of the piece.  Once the right side done, flip it over and make marks along the other edge as well.
Use a design curve ruler and draw lines to join them.  Mark from the center to the righthand side.
Keep the marks on the design curve as close to 90 degrees at the center and side edges as possible.  Each row is slightly different.  You will need to move the ruler just a bit for each row.
Continue all the way up the front piece.
Flip it over and do the left hand side as well.  For the left hand side, the ruler will need to be flipped over as well.
You will also need to make a mark where the seam allowance will be on each side of the skirt pieces.  This will help you know where to begin and end gathering the ruffles.  Measure in 3/8 inch (1 cm) from the edge to place these marks.
At this point it is a good idea to finish the bottom edges of the front and back skirt pieces with a serger or other edge finishing method.
Cut the ruffles slightly wider than the measurement between the lines.  My lines were 2 1/8 inch (5.4 cm) apart, I cut the ruffles at 2 1/2 inches (6.4 cm).  The ruffles should be cut as width-of-fabric strips if you are using a ruffler foot.  If you are gathering by hand, you may want to calculate the length of the strips by measuring each line with a measuring tape and then using a 1.5 or 2:1 ratio to determine the length.  Each row as you go up will require less fabric than the one below it.
You will also need to cut two additional pieces for ruffles for the bottom hem of the skirt.  For mine, in addition to the nine that were needed for the rows in the front, I needed to cut two more, one for the bottom front and one for the back.
I used my serger to roll a hem on both long edges of the ruffles. You can also create a narrow hem on a regular sewing machine.  If you make a narrow hem, the strips will need to be cut even a little wider than I cut mine to accommodate for the hem. The width of the hem will determine how much wider to cut the strips.
Now you are ready for the fun part, adding the ruffles to the skirt piece.  I use a ruffler foot to attach mine.
This is how I line up the line on the skirt piece with the edge of the ruffle strip.  I keep them in line with the hinge on the ruffler foot.  This gives me about a 3/8 inch (1cm) allowance from the top edge of the ruffle.
When using my ruffler foot, I always set it to 0 tucks per stitch until I know that I have passed the seam allowance.  This keeps the fabric within the seam allowance flat and makes it much easier to sew the side seam of the dress.
Once I know that I am a few stitches beyond the seam allowance, I stop with my needle down and set it to 1 tuck per stitch. When I get to the mark for the seam allowance at the end of the ruffle, I stop and set it back to 0.
The markings on the ruffler foot tell you how often it will add a tuck.  Zero means that it will not add any tucks at all, 12 means that it will add one tuck every 12 stitches, 6 means one tuck every 6 stitches and 1 means that there will be a tuck for every stitch.  The amount of fabric that will be tucked is determined by how tight the screw at the top of the foot is turned.  Tighter means it will take a bigger tuck, looser means it will take a smaller tuck.  Stitch length plays a big part in the amount of gathering that will go into the ruffle as well.  I usually have to play with scraps a bit to make sure that I have the amount of gathering that I want.
It takes a little practice to learn how to use the ruffler foot. Your two pieces of fabric move through the machine at different rates.  I use my left hand to guide the ruffle and my right hand to guide the piece to which I am attaching the ruffle.
Start with the bottom ruffle and move your way up to the top.  The ruffle at the top should be flush with the top edge of the skirt piece.
There will be a lot of leftover ends to the ruffle pieces hanging over each side of the skirt.  Carefully trim them off.  This will be much easier to do from the back of the piece.  For the bottom ruffle, just extend the line from the side of the skirt.
Pin and then baste them down inside the seam allowance in order to make it easier to sew up the side seams of the dress.
Once the front skirt piece is finished, add a single ruffle to the bottom of the back skirt piece.  To do this, once again, make a mark 3/4 inch (2 cm) above the bottom edge of the back skirt piece, draw your line, attach the ruffle and trim it accordingly.
Once those pieces are complete with ruffles, finish sewing up the dress as the pattern is written using the partial lining option and omitting the hemming steps.
Instead of doing two buttons on each side, I decided to get really crazy and make my own buttons out of polymer clay and just put one large button on each side.
So, there you have it… a fun, cute way to snazz up your next Estherlyn!  Thanks for reading and I  hope that you have enjoyed this tutorial.

Marbella Dress Tour & Giveaway

Hi & thanks for stopping by for the Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern Blog Hop!

I’ve always loved Audrey Hepburn. I know I’m not the only one. As a teenager she was a great role model – classic, beautiful, charming, graceful, timeless. I love her in this iconic photo wearing that boat neck dress with tulip skirt pegged down to the floor. *swoon*

Lovely, but a little impractical for daily wear. Insert the Marbella Dress by Itch to Stitch Designs.

As I mentioned on Monday’s Post, when I first saw the Marbella Dress I was over the moon for Kennis Wong’s design! I’m sure a lot of it had to do with it’s classic feel and clean lines. I was so thrilled to be able to test such a lovely garment pattern. The Marbella Dress features a wide boat neck, front and back yokes allowing for color blocking, feminine princess lines that allow for a close fit in the bodice, roomy, slightly above knee tulip skirt, functional in-seam pockets and invisible back zipper closure (description from the Itch to Stitch website).

Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern | JaimeSews

The group of testers and Kennis were so wonderfully helpful through the entire process. Before cutting into our fashion fabrics (mine being this solid blue, slightly textured bottom weight from F&M Fabrics), several of us started with muslins (practice garments) from solid cotton or leftover fabrics to get the fit just right. This pattern has sizing for A/B/C/D cups (I KNOW!) so the bodice fit wonderfully in front right off the bat. However, I did have some pooling of fabric at my lower back. That was quickly remedied by a sway back alteration on the appropriate pattern pieces. This is a common alteration for me on all patterns, one I failed to do (since I skipped the muslining stage) on my Easter Dress and really regret! As you can see in the picture below, the alteration was worth it! No extra fabric, just smooth seams.Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern | JaimeSews

Another change I made to the pattern was to blend between sizes. This is also common for me as my measurements always do land a little smaller on top than on bottom. At first Kennis and I did not think it would matter since the skirt is so roomy, but after some mystery fitting issues with the first muslin, I cut a larger skirt and attached to the practice garment after resolving the swayback and the correct size skirt made all the difference in the world. Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern | JaimeSews

I really want to emphasize that these are alterations I have to do every time I sew for myself so it was definitely not the pattern! In fact, the pattern itself was wonderful to work with. Everything fit together beautifully. And I really adored the techniques outlined in the instructions. They made me a better seamstress by walking me through some steps I am usually in too much of a hurry to consider (like trimming the lining pieces slightly to make them turn a little inward so you don’t see the lining peak out from the front of the garment). Little things like that, and more outlined in the instructions, really contribute to a professional finished product! Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern | JaimeSews

I think this dress has a lot of potential to be drastically different just by changing the fabrics! The fabric I chose is great for fall/winter with a jacket or sweater, but a floral would be great for spring and the yoke and bodice would lend themselves beautifully to color blocking, as you can see in some of the others’ tester versions. So be sure to click around below and follow the tour – you won’t be sorry!

ALSO – enter to win your own Marbella Dress pattern here!

*The Marbella Dress pattern was given to me in exchange for sewing and testing the fit and pattern details. Opinions are all mine. This post does contain affiliate links*

Wed, October 15:
Ann from The Pattern Studio by 1 Puddle Lane
Lindsay from Design by Lindsay

Thursday, October 16:
Debbie from Stitch It Now
Jaime from Jaime Johnson

Monday, October 20:
Darcy from Ginger House Designs
Stacey from All Sewn Up by Stacey

Tuesday, October 21:
Diane Guess Post on Itch to Stitch
Ajaire from Call Ajaire

Itch To Stitch Marbella Blog Hop Coming Soon!

When I saw Kennis Wong mention an upcoming testing call for the Marbella Dress* in my Pattern Workshop* Group, I practically begged her to let me sign up before she was ready to take sign ups since I was leaving the next day for a weekend away with no internet or cell service.

Marbella Dress Pattern by Itch to Stitch

I absolutely LOVED the design and I was SO afraid I would miss the official call because, let us be frank – without a deadline, almost no sewing gets done for myself. Sure I could have purchased the pattern when it was released, but it would most likely have gone on the long list of projects waiting to be done and never see the light of day. Safe to say I was jumping up and down when I made the tester cut and was excited to get to work.

Starting Wednesday of this week, there will be a Marbella Dress Blog Hop over at Itch To Stitch so you can see all the lovely tester versions and read everyone’s opinion on the process and the pattern. Last week, when the pattern was released, I leaked this picture of my finished dress.

Itch to Stitch Marbella Dress Pattern | JaimeSews

But be sure to stop back by Thursday to see it from every angle and to hear about my testing experience, the changes I made and why you might consider picking yourself up a copy! See you Thursday!

*affiliate links

Sewing for Good

It’s always great to be able to help others, but there’s something great about being able to use your talents to bless others. Lately I’ve been looking into ways my sewing can be of help to other people and I thought it’d be fun to share what I’ve found and then hear from you the ways you’ve been able to give through your sewing.

(NOTE: Always be sure to check into the charities you work with to make sure you agree with their mission and financial stewardship. The charities I mention below are suggestions I’ve found in my own internet search in my desire to get involved, but please do your own homework.)

Quilt Ministry at Church - Many churches have Prayer Quilt ministries where a group of ladies get together to create quilts for those experiencing sickness, loss, surgery, treatments, etc. as a tangible expression of support. At my church, the quilts are finished by tying where each knot represents a prayer made by a church member who takes the time to stop by the table and say a prayer. Even if you’re a basic or new quilter, this is a great place to contribute as quilts can be simple or complex in pattern, they are usually lap sized, and sewing side-by-side with other women can give you the opportunity to gain from their skill. I’ve heard many families express what these quilts meant to their loved one, and to even to them, as their family went through a difficult time. If quilting’s your thing, this is a great way to give to others through your craft!

Little Dresses for Africa –  If garment sewing is more your thing, check out Little Dresses for Africa. With this organization, “Simple dresses are made out of pillow cases, and distributed through the orphanages, churches and schools in  Africa to plant in the hearts of little girls that they are worthy!” I think many of us can all relate to how clothing can affect how we feel & knowing that someone across the world is thinking about you would brighten anybody’s day! If this is something that interests you, you’ll definitely want to click through and check out the website to find out how Little Dresses for Africa started and how to host your own sewing party.

LittleDressesForAfrica

The Sleeping Bag Project – This is one I found intriguing and it could easily be applied to your location, even if you and your family are the only participants (though there is information on the site on finding an existing group). Our family tries to keep blessing bags in our car for when we see people in need. It’s not much, but just a little something we hope is helpful in the short term. Providing a hand made sleeping bag would be a great addition to the blessing bags. There are instructions on their site so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel and they would be an amazing use for scraps – something you could make as you go year round.

sleepingbagproject

There are many, many more charities and ways to help others with our sewing. I’m dying to know – in what ways have you used your sewing for good? Please let me know in the comments!

Gift for a Friend: India Hobo

Today is my friend Becky’s Birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BECKY!!!

(If you or someone in your family loves Star Wars, you’ll want to check out Becky’s blog, Star Wars Wife!)

I was super excited when Becky’s husband contacted me to make up a bicycle-themed hobo bag. Swoon Patterns is one of the authorities on Bag Patterns so I swooped up the India Hobo Bag pattern & it didn’t let me down.

Swoon India Hobo Bag | JaimeSews

Most of the pattern pieces are stabilized with a woven fusible interfacing. I was a little nervous at first but was really happy with the result – the bag feels sturdy without feeling too stiff. Becky’s main requirement was that the bag be a cross-the-body style, but she also wanted some zipper pockets. Swoon India Hobo Bag | JaimeSews

The India has two good-sized zipper pockets, one inside, one outside, not to mention the large main pocket and a large outside open pockets on either side. Swoon India Hobo Bag | JaimeSews

Last night we had a great time at a barbecue celebrating Becky. I learn so much from being her friend – she is purposefully positive, intentional in her relationships, a learner, creative & a lover of God and her family.

Swoon India Hobo Bag | JaimeSews

I am thankful I was given the opportunity to help with her hubby’s gift this year – hope you love your bag Becky and here’s to a great year!