iPhone Case – Revised

I’m scheduled to teach a class at Sew With Vision in a couple of weeks on constructing a smartphone carry case. I’ve written about the simple version I started with that had a single zippered side pocket. This version has two zippered front pockets as well to hold credit cards and other cards like health card, driver’s license, car insurance – the stuff you need to have on hand (not just photos on your phone). With these two additional pockets I no longer need carry a purse.

I made this case 3/8″ wider than the previous version to make it easier to slide cards into the zippered pockets. Both of these cases are “right-handed” – that is the zippers are positioned to be easily opened using your right hand. To make these cases “left-handed” reverse the closed position of the front zippers and place the side zipper on the opposite side.

I fully intended documenting the process while making the leather case but the process took over and I didn’t have the photos I needed to describe how to make the case. I made a second from linen (using fusible batting to stabilize the linen). I thought about adding embroidery but because the case is for demonstration purposes I decided it wasn’t worth taking the time. The only “decorative” feature are the bi-colour front zippers (the side zipper is a single colour because I used zipper tape and a pull).

The basic construction is still the same as the earlier version with the added work needed for creating the zippered front pockets. Here’s a link to the instructions for

iPhone Case With Two Front Pockets + Side Pocket.

Give it a try. Let me know how it goes. My measurements are for an iPhone 12 Pro (3″ x 6″). Measure your phone and modify the specifications to work with your phone.

Two Serger Tips

How long have I owned a serger? It’s gotta be close to 25 years. Most of the serger sewing I do works perfectly fine and I’m happy with it. However, when I need to sew in the round (like when attaching the neckband to a t-Shirt, or at the bottom edge of pants), when I stitch past the place where I started, I end up trimming the edge of the beginning stitches. It annoys me – I usually end up zig-zagging across that small part of the edge. The other day, I figured out how to solve that problem (although why it’s taken me 25 years to do that, I don’t know!).

Normal Knife Position

This is the normal cutting position with the knife blade (upper right corner) in the up position beside the presser foot (and the small white knob on the left with no writing).

Knife-down Position

I realized the other day that when I reached the place where I started stitching in the round all I had to do was lower the knife to the down/lock position (below the presser foot, in line with the needle plate, with the small knob on the left showing “lock”), and here’s what I get:

Round Serged Seam Join

No trimmed stitches! I can connect the join and not worry about that centimetre of trimmed stitches in front of where I stopped serging! (The trimming happens because the cutting knife is in front of the needles and trims the seam edge before it gets sewn – in the round it catches and trims the already serged edge.)

I have a second tip. The other day, I was helping a friend set up her new coverstitch machine (that’s a sewing machine that only does a three thread coverstitch – just look at the hem on your t-Shirt – that’s a three thread coverstitch). Threading the needles is straightforward. Threading the looper (on her machine, that’s to the left side) is not intuitive and involves some very awkward threading from back-to-front on the looper itself.

I pointed out to her that she only ever needed to thread the machine once, then she never have to thread that looper again – just cut the thread at the spool, tie on the new coloured thread, make sure she’s raised the presser foot to release the tension on the tension disks, then pull on the old looper thread bringing the new thread through the entire thread path.

It’s the same with a serger – cut the looper threads (on a serger there are two loopers) near the spool, tie on the new colour thread, raise the presser foot, pull the new thread through the machine. I actually do that with all four threads even though I’ve not figured out how to tied a tiny knot that will go through the needle eye – I just cut the needle threads when the new thread reaches the eye and re-thread the needles with the new colour. I use an overhand knot (which I pull snug) – I’ve tried reef knots but they’re no smaller.

Threading the needle paths on a serger or coverstitch machine from spool to needle is easy; it’s the loopers that can be complicated. Tying the new threads on and pulling them through is an easy fix.

Two New Tops

I made another knit top after finding this striped cotton knit in my stash – the last cotton knit in that drawer. I added a bit of flare because the knit was light with a soft drape. However, the fabric was difficult to work with, I made sure I had stretch needles in my serger, my quilter and the coverstitch machines, but the fabric edges curled forcing me to pin closely at the edges in order to have the seam edge lay flat! I’ve gotten very used to not having to pin – taking time to pin the edges practically doubled my sewing time.

And it’s a very warm day today so I decided to wear the heirloom top. I didn’t realize I’d set it up with a slightly dropped shoulder (that’s because I drafted the pattern from my other lightweight cotton top which has a dropped shoulder) but if I don’t say anything about it, nobody but an experienced sewer would notice it. It will be comfortable on this hot day. (This is the best of several photos I took – I didn’t manage to smile in this one which was the clearest image of the shirt!).

The Wedding Gown

I said to myself, before I started these alterations, if I ruin the dress, I’ll replace it! That gave me the courage to proceed.

I started with the front opening. Michelle is tall, very thin, with a small bosom. So when she moved, the front gaped and she felt exposed. I wanted to stitch the opening closed but she was adamant the opening remain.

I shopped for a bit of nude mesh which I found at Fabricville. I cut a triangle long enough to support the gap further toward the neckline, pinned it in place then hand stitched it (very small stitches with Aurifil 50wt thread in white). Can’t see my stitches. I stitched the edges of the triangle on the inside as well. Then I added a sheer white polyester bias tape across the top edge to prevent the mesh from stretching much. That should do the job.

Second, I took up the shoulder straps an inch. I though I’d have to carefully remove beads and pearls, but I got away without having to do that – I was able to fold the strap 1/2″ and stitched the fold securely to itself. You have to look very closely to see where that join is. That adjustment should help with how the neckline fits as well.

Finally the two nude inner skirts. First, I had to figure out the length of the innermost skirt at the front, mark that length around the whole thing then cut it being VERY careful not to cut the lace and tulle layers. Next, measure the second skirt 2″ longer and cut it. I think the two skirts are still bit long in the centre back (that’s because at the waist the inner skirts dip down about an inch and a half below the centre front) but I was afraid to cut the skirts too short – we can always cut more – I can’t add back what I cut off!

I’ve decided not to hem the bottom edge – this dress will be worn once, the fabric doesn’t fray, and no point in doing a turned hem if I have to cut off more.

So far, I don’t think I’ve ruined the dress. I’d say, it’s done until Michelle tries it on. If I’m lucky she’ll be happy with my alterations – my wedding gift to her.

How I Spent My Day

Yesterday, I spent the greater part of the day teaching a class about heirloom sewing; passing on what I’ve learned about creating delicate Victorian detailed embroidery techniques using my sewing/embroidery machine by helping others create a sampler which they can now use as part of a garment (likely a nightgown) or some other decorated textile project.

Heirloom Sample #1

It’s that time of year – I had a class of one. While my student was working, I had a bit of time to work on a sampler of my own – not particularly precise since I was distracted showing her techniques to help her with the precision that makes this work so lovely. I’ve put my sampler aside as an example of what you’re trying to avoid – my rows aren’t straight, the spacing isn’t exact and the panel is too narrow for the garment I want to make.

However, I still intend to make a light weight, flowing summer top embellished with heirloom work. So after aquafit this morning I started another stitched piece to serve as the yoke for this garment.

Finished Heirloom Panel – 24″ x 12″

Today, I decided to use a crisp paper as stabilizer, pulling it away from the stitching as I finished each row. I also took the time to draw lines with a heat-erasable pen to follow as I stitched. Unlike yesterday, my rows are evenly spaced and straight.

I began with 4 rows of tucks in the centre, since the neck opening of the top I plan on making has a slit I want to replicate, I decided not to put a lace piece down the centre. Now that I’ve drafted a pattern for the front yoke from my existing top I have a feeling I may not have left enough space at the centre to make the slit and face it properly (Oh, well). Next some hemstitching, followed by a row of decorative stitching, a grouping of pin tucks, another row of decorative stitching, an entredeux insert, ending with more decorative stitching and an outside line of hemstitching. The panel is symmetrical and the lines do match up on both sides.

Over the next few days, I’ll cut out the garment and begin assembling it. The top on which I’m basing this creation has an embellished front without a seam joining top and bottom. I’ll have to add a strip of entredeux to join top front to top bottom. I’m still thinking about style here and may in the end just use the same pattern I used for the nightgown and simply sew a hip-length top from it. I’ll make that decision tomorrow.

Heirloom Sewing

I’m doing an Heirloom Sewing class on Tuesday. The plan is to create a sampler using a range of heirloom techniques on a piece of lightweight cotton fabric (voile, batiste, lawn) large enough to become a yoke on a pull-on shirt, or a nightgown, a piece that can be used to make some kind of garment.

I needed to make something to show a finished product. A number of years ago I created several heirloom samplers intending to use them to make nightgowns. My supply of these lovely cotton nightgowns has continued to be serviceable for more than 10 years – I haven’t needed to replace any. However, I needed a new garment to show the class so yesterday I chose one of the samplers, pulled some batiste from my fabric stash, and cut out the nightgown. Today, I sewed it together.

First I had to put a bias binding to finish the front neckline. Second, I had to embellish the ends of the sleeves. I have a supply of beautiful lace edgings I bought quite a while ago and decided I should use one. I put it on the sleeve edge, did a row of hem stitching using a wing needle, then three rows of pin tucks using a 1.6mm twin needle and a pin tuck foot, finally a single row of decorative stitching. Together it makes for a pleasing sleeve edge.

I constructed the gown with French seams by sewing wrong sides together first, pressing the seam, folding it along the seam edge and stitching the seam again 1/4″ from the edge encasing the raw edges within the second seam. It’s a strong seam finish and there can be no fraying.

Once I had the gown made up, I double folded the hem and edge stitched it, then I added three rows of tucks along the bottom edge. I might still add a bit of decorative stitching but for now I’ve stopped.

Along with the original panels, I now have a completed nightgown to take to class!

New Silk Kantha

New Silk Kantha

I ordered another silk kantha bedspread ten days ago – it arrived day before yesterday. It’s a dark, rainy afternoon and the overhead light floods the quilt with yellow light. It’s actually more off-white/light beige with red and purple accents. It has red and white quilt stitching. It’s going to be perfect for a colourful summer jacket – this time with more flow and more contrasting colour to bring out the red in the silk blocks.

I bought a 90″ x 108″ quilt – that’s a ton of fabric – more than enough for two jackets! I’ll do one for myself first, then who knows what I’ll do with what’s left. A friend sent me a Pinterest photo of a summer shirt yesterday – this might work nicely done with some of the kantha.

Summer Shirt Idea From Pinterest

She’s right about that – it wouldn’t take much kantha fabric to do half a front, half a back and one sleeve! I’d use red linen for the other half of the shirt. Simple to make – a facing on the front neckline, a small binding on the back. It’s hard to tell from the photo whether the bottom of the shirt is actually scooped or just tucked into the bottom. I’d make mine straight with side slits.

Clearly an idea on my “to do” list.

From Sample Stitches to Drawstring Bag

Drawstring Bag

I did another stitch sampler – this time horizontal rows of embroidery stitches (of which this machine has MANY – particularly when you consider you can modify both length and width of each of the 500+ stitches). No ribbon or lace – just the stitches themselves in rayon embroidery thread.

Then I turned the panel into a drawstring bag large enough to carry a pair of shoes, or my knitting, or whatever I need a bag for. Finished size: 10″ x 13″.

What’s different about this drawstring bag is the way the channels are formed. Many years ago I was given a Japanese drawstring bag made with such channels. It’s a more refined way of finishing a drawstring bag. So I’ve been making mine this way for a long time.

Here’s a link to instructions for this Japanese Drawstring Bag.

Black Cord Pants

Black Cords

I’ve used the same pattern (Jalie 3243 – Pull-on Pants) I’ve used for several other pairs of pants. My weight and shape have been relatively constant for the past year so once I worked out the details I had a pattern for pants that fit so I just keep making them.

The best part of the project is I can cut out the pants, sew them up, and wear them without any fussing. I know the length of elastic for the waist, the inseam measurement. Gain or lose weight and the measurements will change. However, right now I have a cut/sew pattern that works.

You can’t see the details – two jean-shaped pockets sewn to the front, two back pockets, an elasticized waist. That’s all there is to these pants.

I cut them out on Thursday. Got most of the construction done yesterday morning. Finished them this morning and I’m wearing them this afternoon.

A Stormy Day

It’s been blizzarding here all day – for much of the morning it was a white-out!

White-Out!

Didn’t matter – I was sewing. Last weekend I agreed to make sofa cushions for a friend – her designer had specified “piping” on several of the pillows. Creating the piping is no big deal, but applying it – that’s another matter. I trimmed the piping so I could align the outer edge with the outside of the pillow fabric but corners are tricky – I discovered it was a good idea to snip the corner and then 1/2″ on either side of that snip in order to bring the piping around the 90°. The second challenge involved joining the piping – I cheated on that on the two large square pillows, I just overlapped the piping and stitched it in place. Next came putting the zipper in against the piping edge on one side. Because the cushion will be sitting on that edge I did the best I could and have left it at that (I could hand stitch that opening closed but I’m guessing nobody but me will ever notice the zipper isn’t put in perfectly evenly).

Sofa Cushions

I’m happy with how the four pillows have turned out (the spotted pillow on the right belongs on my sofa!). They’ll look good on Heather’s new sofa.

She also has a hall bench that wanted a cushion – piped she decided, which makes construction quite a bit more difficult. It’s not just a matter of cutting out a top and bottom piece to fit the cushion form, but piping the top and bottom edges, along with inserting a zipper along the back side.

My bench is several inches shorter and wider but this cushion will fit Heather’s bench nicely and when it’s been sat on for a week, nobody will notice the imperfections that I can see. This time I took the time to butt the piping join – I did such a good job you can’t see where I joined the fabric/cord.

One pillow still to go. I don’t have the pillow form although I do have the fabric. This cushion needs to be done with a flange. There are several ways that can be done. I need to google for some instructions to make the job easier. I’ll make up the cushion cover – Heather will buy a queen size bed pillow and we’ll take it apart to make it fit the cover.

That last job I’m leaving for tomorrow.