The Confident Stitch

  • Thread Theory Comox Trunks in Art Gallery Knit

    We are so excited to have a new guest blogger! Jessica Yen is a friend of a friend of Kate's. She loves to sew and write about sewing, and after visiting the shop a few weeks ago, she agreed to collaborate. Jessica started sewing clothing about a decade ago, and is a self-described intermediate sewist with an occasional penchant for off-roading. She formerly wrote the Slow Sewing column for Seamwork Magazine, and is intent on taking a thoughtful approach to adding to her hand wardrobe.
    The Comox Trunks, lookin' good from all angles! The Comox Trunks, lookin' good from all angles!

    Jessica's First Confident Stitch Blog Post:

    Has anyone else been on an underwear sewing kick? No, just me? To me, underwear sewing is the best of all worlds. Each pair comes together in a couple hours, they’re excellent showcases for fun fabrics, and they’re the type of make that gets worn over and over by necessity—a fun and functional palette cleanser, what more could one ask for?

    Discovering Thread Theory Comox Trunks

    Well, recently I’ve discovered men’s underwear sewing, and it takes everything I listed and kicks it up a notch. After all, you get to see a loved one sport the clothing you’ve made them, and it only takes a couple hours of your time. Un-selfish sewing, but in a high-impact, self-contained kind of way. *wink wink.* This is the Comox Trunks pattern by Thread Theory, sewn up in this fun Art Gallery Fabrics knit. Based on my recipient’s hip measurements, I used a size 34. Because I’ve made this pattern for him before, I knew to add an inch to the leg length (don’t forget to add an inch on each side of the gusset!). Just personal preference, he likes his trunks to come a little lower in the leg.

    Notes on the Fit of Comox Trunks

      1. Men’s underwear typically has an, um, “access” hole in the front. My recipient never uses this, so I omitted those pattern pieces, cut 4 front gusset panels instead of 2, and sewed the front shut. However, I have made this pattern with access hole and all, and that pair turned out really nicely.
      2. Art Gallery knits have a good amount of stretch, are super soft to the touch, and great recovery, making them perfect for this pattern or any underwear, really.
      3. Apparently, one of the annoyances of RTW men’s underwear is that they tend to ride up in the leg, which I’m told is uncomfortable. Despite bicycling in these, walking around for extended periods, and other such activities, my recipient has yet to have any of his Comox Trunks ride up his thighs. He says this is a GIANT bonus.
      4. If your recipient isn’t into bright fabrics and big prints, this pattern also looks great in solids, neutrals, or understated prints. Or a plain main fabric and wild butt panel! Party in the back, yeah?

    Jessica's Comox Trunks Conclusions

    So there you have it! A fast, easy, fun project for the men in your life. The pattern includes both boys’ and mens’ sizing, so you could whip up some matching sets if you like. Or his-and-hers, if that’s your jam. Or underwear for the whole family! These come together so well, I’m tempted to make my brother and his partner a matching pair—the most awkward part of this endeavor will be getting their hip measurements … #sewingproblems … Buy Comox Trunks PatternBuy Art Gallery Knit
  • Mini Pumpkins Quilt: Part 3

    Hi everyone!

    Today, I'll show you how I decided to finish my Mini Pumpkins quilt, including quilting, labeling, and binding choices. {If you haven't read the rest of the series, you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here!}

    Quilt Assembly

    After you've pieced together all your white and orange pumpkins, cut out your spacing blocks from the background fabric. Lay out all the pieces and decide the final piecing order. Piece the quilt front together.

    The layout of each quilt block for your mini pumpkin quilt. Lay out all your pumpkin blocks before assembling.

    Quilt Label and Backing

    I decided to make a white pumpkin to use as a label on my quilt back. I used plain white fabric with the same green stem as the other pumpkins. Using a Pigma archival ink pen in black, I wrote my name, date, and Instagram handle on the label.

    Next, I pieced the label into the backing. You can applique the label on the back after quilting, but I like to piece it whenever possible.

    Labeling your mini pumpkin quilt. Labeling your mini pumpkins quilt.

    Quilting and Binding

    I wanted to keep the quilting simple on this quilt to keep the focus on the pumpkins. I did basic straight-line quilting across the quilt in 1-inch increments. On a domestic machine, you can use the edge of your foot as a guide or apply Washi tape as a guideline for your foot. The Washi tape peels right off and you can re-position it for the next line of stitching.

    Audition your fabrics for the binding. I decided on orange binding, partly because the orange fabric that I selected has a beautiful gold thread accent that looks really pretty and partly to highlight the orange pumpkins!

    Add your binding...you're almost done! Add your binding...you're almost done!

    Admire Your Quilt!

    I hope you had fun following with me on the blog as I made this cute pumpkins quilt. You can see it on display at The Confident Stitch. This quilt goes together very quickly, and it is a cute accent quilt for the whole season.

    Your finished Mini Pumpkin quilt! Aren't you proud? Your finished Mini Pumpkin quilt! Aren't you proud?
    Even the back of this quilt is cute! Even the back of this quilt is cute!

    Happy Quilting!

    Jennifer

  • Grainline Hadley Top: You Can Have It Both Ways

    Mairin in the Grainline Hadley Top in Rayon Mairin in the Grainline Hadley Top in Rayon
    The back of the Grainline Hadley in Rayon The back of the Grainline Hadley Top in Rayon
    Front of Kate Wearing the Grainline Hadley Top View B in Linen Front of Kate Wearing the Grainline Hadley Top View B in Linen
    Back of Kate Wearing the Grainline Hadley Top in Floral Linen Back of Kate Wearing the Grainline Hadley Top in Floral Linen

    Grainline Studio Hadley Top #1108 View A & B

    We liked this pattern so much, we made it twice! We love the different vibes of both views and all the variations we can try on future tops! We'll be making this again and again.

    Pattern Description

    "The Hadley is drapey, fluid, and sophisticated. It’s the semi-formal top that you need to wear to work or to throw on over your jeans for a night out. View A has a jewel neck, a pleat at the back neckline, and bracelet length sleeves. View B is sleeveless and features a soft v-neck (Bonnie would say DEEP v-neck). Both are subtly geometric as the have center seams in the front and back as well as a wide hem. (Bonnie would also mention the hem is longer in the back!) Techniques involved include sewing straight and curved seams, setting sleeves, darts, pleating, and applying facings."

    Sizing

    0 - 18

    Review

    The instructions are easy to follow! For View A  it is important to observe the drawings of the hem facings for proper application.  There are no coordinating notches for the top & bottom of the band. Our shop seamstress, Bonnie, likes View A for its combo effect of casual elegance and fun versatility. She wants to make this top again, re-mixing it with different variations (tunic length, 3/4 sleeves, etc.) Bonnie was a bit shocked with how deep the V-neck is on the tank. Way too low for her! She decided to add a binding to the front, blending it into the back facing and adjusting the darts. Luckily, Bonnie is the queen of making the perfect design adjustments. Bonnie likes that these tops are longer in the back with wide curved hems. A very flattering design for many figures!

    Fabric Used

    Hold me close, Tiny Dancer Rayon! We are obsessed with this dusty teal dandelion print.  Seat us on the edge of Elton John's piano bench, elegantly draped in the long sleeved Hadley. Or maybe just take us back to summer in the Designer Digitally Printed in Blue & Red Border PrintLinen maybe doesn't drape with the same sophistication as rayon or cotton but makes for a crisp, semi-structured tank top.  We love border prints for clothing -- who can resist a floral ombre?

    Conclusion

    You can have it all.  Bonnie would love to try the v-neck on View A and vice versa. Albeit her neckline redesign for View B, Bonnie found this pattern all-around to be fun and quick to sew.  Her advice: take your time with the clipping, grading and edge-stitching of facings.

          

  • Mini Pumpkins Quilt: Part 2

    Are you ready to make some pumpkins? Let's get sewing! 

    I like to cut just enough pieces to make a sample block first, especially since this pattern uses a curved seam. The QCR Mini Ruler really makes the curves go together pretty easily, but it helps to visualize how the block comes together before chain piecing.

    Lay out your pumpkins

    Lay out the A and B pieces for a white pumpkin:

    Follow the pattern instructions and carefully sew the A pieces to B pieces. I like to keep the B piece flat against my sewing surface, and grasp piece A with my hand and gently lift it upwards. Feed it into the machine slowly to avoid puckers. I don't pin these blocks, but I do keep the needle in the down position in case I need to make small adjustments.

    You'll have two pumpkin halves for this practice block. Press seams towards A:

    Sew on your background C piece to each pumpkin half and press seams. Notice how the block looks uneven before you trim:

    The pattern allows a little wiggle room for curved piecing, thankfully! Each pumpkin half is slightly bigger than what you need, so the pattern shows you how to trim each section down to make a perfectly sized ABC block.

    Add middle strip and stem

    Once your ABC block is trimmed, you'll piece it together with a middle strip and the stem set:

    Give your test block a good press. Continue chain piecing your pumpkins to make enough for the quilt top. The pattern calls for 16 white pumpkins and 3 orange pumpkins, but you can mix it up and make any number that you want. You could reverse the white to orange ratio or change the total amount of pumpkins.

    Admire your pumpkins!

    Here is my bushel of pieced and pressed white pumpkins. They look spooktacular!

    In my next post, I'll reveal the final quilt and talk about my quilting and binding choices.

    Happy pumpkin making!

    Jennifer

  • Adventures With Flat-Bottom Flo, Part II

    Style Arc Flat-Bottom Flo Pant Cover Art Style Arc Flat-Bottom Flo Pant Cover Art
    Flat-Bottom Flo Front Alterations I pinched out 1.5" from the front crotch on the front pattern piece, and added 1.5" to the front side seam.
    Flat-Bottom Flo Back Alteration I ended up pulling up the yoke at the side back in my first pair of Flo's, so I took a wedge out of the paper pattern at the lengthen/shorten line.
    Flat-Bottom Flo vs. Jalie Eleanore Comparing Flo to Jalie's Eleanore pattern. The blue oval is the amount of belly and butt that will fit in Eleanore. The red is the amount of belly and butt that will fit in Flo.
    Welcome to Flat-Bottom Flo, Part II. Based on the alterations I made to the fabric of my first pair of Flat-Bottom Flo pants, I made a few changes to the paper pattern. I also compared the StyleArc Flo crotch-curve to the crotch curve on the Jalie Eleonore Pants. Note: We don't sell StyleArc patterns, but they are awesome!

    Front-Pattern-Piece Changes

      In my first pair of Flat-Bottom Flo pants, I had a lot of extra fabric in the front belly area, so I shortened the crotch by 1.5" along the lengthen/shorten line. The side seam also twisted toward the front in my first pair, so I added 1.5" of "just in case" width to the pattern piece. I have large calves and kinda strong thighs, so there might not have been enough fabric in the front to cover them. I will likely take the width away from the back leg, but I can do that in the fabric. Always, my main concern is to have enough fabric!

    I Think My Bottom is Flatter than Flo's!

      In my first pair of Flat-Bottom Flo pants, the derriere looked good, but the fabric was wrinkling behind my knees (a common issue for me). I ended up pulling the yoke up into the waistband at the side seam in the back. To replicate the pulling up of the yoke, I took a wedge out of the butt area that was 1.5" at the side seam and zero at the crotch seam.

    What Makes Flo a Flat-Bottom Pattern?

      A pattern for a flat bottom is different than a pattern for an average bottom because the crotch curve is straighter. In the photo above, the ovals show the amount of space there is for a body in the crotch area. Since the back crotch is more curved in the Jalie, there is more room for a booty. Pants are hard to fit. Finding a pants sloper that fits pretty well is one key to success. For me, a flat-bottomed sloper is a good place to start. For those of you with well-endowed lower halves, our Sewaholic Thurlow Trousers pattern is a good place to start. What have you struggled with when making pants?
  • Mini Pumpkins Quilt: Part 1

    Fall has finally arrived! I love this time of year with cooler weather, falling leaves, and pumpkins.

    The Mini Pumpkins quilt by Sew Kind of Wonderful has been on my wish list for a while so I'm happy to be making it this year. This pattern uses the QCR (Quick Curve Ruler) mini, which helps you to piece accurate curves.

    Let's take a look at the fabrics that I'm using in the quilt, all currently available from the Confident Stitch.

    Some low-volume pumpkins, made from Confident Stitch quilting cottons. Some low-volume pumpkins, made from Confident Stitch quilting cottons.

    I'm using 6 different fabrics for the orange pumpkins and 7 different low-volume neutrals for the white pumpkins. The background fabric is a rich brown/gray, which really contrasts nicely with the oranges and low-volume fabrics. Be sure to select a background fabric that is dark enough to contrast with your pumpkin fabrics. Solid backgrounds work well because they are not distracting, and they keep the eye focused on the pumpkins in the finished quilt.

    This pattern is very versatile so you can use more fabrics for a scrappier look. You can also change up the ratio of orange to white pumpkins or make some pumpkins from solid fabrics.

    If piecing curves is a little intimidating, just take it slow and easy. Some quilters find that a presser foot for curves is helpful, but I'm just using my standard 1/4-inch presser foot to sew my pumpkin blocks.

    In the next blog post, I'll write about piecing the pumpkins and give you some pointers to help with the piecing.

    Happy quilting!

  • The Charlie Caftan in Tencel Rayon

    The Closet Case Charlie Caftan is cute and effortless in a lightweight Tencel Rayon! The Closet Case Charlie Caftan is cute and effortless in a lightweight Tencel Rayon!
     
    All versions of the Charlie Caftan feature a deep V-neck and cut-on sleeves. All versions of the Charlie Caftan feature a deep V-neck and cut-on sleeves.
    Nothing quite says "summer wardrobe" like a caftan! Here in Montana, we had a long, hot summer. The new Charlie Caftan from Closet Case Patterns was the ideal go-to for an easy, stylish garment that wouldn't stick to sweaty skin or feel restrictive on those hot, smoky days. It's perfect for throwing on after a swim or to wear to the Farmer's Market on a summer Saturday!

    Pattern

    Closet Case Charlie Caftan

    Pattern Description

    "All versions feature a deep V neckline, kimono sleeves, and roomy pockets. View A is modern and architectural with striking pleats beneath the bust. For a softer, more romantic dress, Views B and C feature a gently gathered bodice with an optional waist tie for a figure-skimming silhouette in two skirt lengths. You may also choose between a dramatically wide kimono sleeve, or one slightly higher cut for more coverage."
    Bonnie made View B of the Charlie Caftan, but opted to add the pockets from View A. Because who doesn't love pockets?!
    Bonnie added the pockets from View A to her caftan. Bonnie added the pockets from View A to her caftan.

    Pattern Sizing

    This pattern runs from size 0 to size 20. Bonnie made her version in a size 8.

    Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

    The pattern drawing is very accurate. Because the Tencel Rayon is so drapey, it looked a little less structured than what was pictured, but that was simply because of fabric choice.

    Were the instructions easy to follow?

    As with all Closet Case Patterns, Heather Lou included very detailed and clear instructions. The only tricky bit is the gathered front, but she offers a great tutorial on her website.

    What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

    A caftan by definition is a loose tunic or robe, which is what makes this pattern so effortless and comfortable. But it also means that it runs large, with a very deep V and wide armholes. For a swimsuit coverup that's no problem, but to make it more dress-like, Bonnie opted to take the pattern in quite a bit.

    Fabric Used

    This lovely Tencel Rayon in Blue! We carry a wide variety of drapey, soft, eco-friendly Tencel fabrics, and love them all. Bonnie does warn that the Tencel does fray and can snag, but is nice to sew with. This particular Tencel fabric has a lovely sheen to it that gives it a touch of glamour!

    Pattern alterations and design changes

    Bonnie added interfacing to the pocket side seams for added stability. She wanted to make it slightly more modest and dress-like, so she brought the shoulder seams up 3/4" and the sleeves in by 1". This brought the V-neck up and reduced the armholes, so it offered more coverage.
    Instead of hemming the caftan, Bonnie chose to use some of the selvedge edge. Instead of hemming the caftan, Bonnie chose to use some of the selvedge edge.

    Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

    Yes, definitely! We would like to try it in a slightly crisper fabric, such as a voile or chambray, to show off the design features. The long version would be great in a patterned rayon, such as one of these rayon batiks. We love Closet Case Patterns, and the Charlie Caftan is no exception! It's a casual garment that can be dressed up or down, and has such a wide variety of design option. For summertime, this is a piece that is fun to sew and won't go out of style!  

    Closet Case Charlie Caftan Buy Here

    Buy the tencel rayon in blue here.
  • Adventures with Flat-Bottom Flo, Part I

    Style Arc Flat-Bottom Flo Pant Cover Art Style Arc Flat-Bottom Flo Pant Cover Art
    Flat-Bottom Flo Crotch Alterations A photo of my baggy crotch (you're welcome!)
    Did you know Style Arc has a pant called, Flat-Bottom Flo? You can buy it from Amazon, or from Style Arc in Australia as a printed pattern or a PDF pattern. I can’t remember where I read about Flo, but non-flat-bottom Style Arc pants fit me well, so I was excited to try Flo on my flat bottom. I ordered the pattern from Amazon in sizes 18 to 30. While I’d rather order directly from Style Arc, the shipping costs from Australia are high!

    Fitting the Front of Flat-Bottom Flo

    Because size 18 is bigger than my measurements (I always size up in pants), I sewed my first pair with 5/8” seam allowances, instead of Style Arc’s 3/8”. The butt looked okay right out of the package, although there was some bagginess on the back legs. The front, however, was downright wrinkly. I tried to get rid of the wrinkles myself, but pants are HARD, and I couldn’t figure it out. Bonnie, our shop seamstress, came to my rescue and pinched out the excess, which you can see marked in the photo. I tried to make Bonnie’s changes at home, but, I over-thought everything, and the front didn’t look any better after I finished. Luckily, Bonnie was back in the shop a few days later, and she calmly pinned everything again and made the final changes. Bonnie owned a tailoring shop in the past. She is great at figuring out the changes necessary in fabric.  I feel so fortunate to have her help!

    Up Next: How to Alter the Pattern Pieces

    In Adventures with Flo Part II, I’ll compare Flo’s back crotch-curve to a regular back crotch-curve, and show you the changes I made to the pattern pieces for my next pair!
  • Rachel Twin-Set

    The Rachel Twin-Set Tank in Catalina Knit The Rachel Twin-Set Tank in Catalina Knit
    Close Up of Rachel Twin-Sew Tank in Catalina Knit Close Up of Rachel Twin-Sew Tank in Catalina Knit
    Rachel Twin-Set Cardigan in Tactel Nylon. Rachel Twin-Set Cardigan in Tactel Nylon. I WISH that was my bike!
      Angela Wolf’s Rachel Twin-Set is an unassuming pattern. The cover photographs and line drawings don’t look too special, but we have a few samples of the cardigan on display in the shop, and everyone wants one! The cardigan is drop-dead gorgeous in person, and the tank-top has great lines.

     

    Rachel Twin-Set Sizing

    The Twin-Set Pattern comes in either XXS-XL, or 2X-5X. I made both pieces of the twin-set in extra-large to minimize the amount of bust adjustment necessary on the tank-top, and eliminate the need for adjustment on the cardigan. And, of course, the shoulders are too big on both. Will I ever learn? During my many Palmer/Pletsch fit classes, Pati Palmer and Marta Alto have taught me to fit the shoulders first, and then alter everything else as needed. Why hasn’t that lesson stuck with me? Why do I try to take shortcuts? These are the existential questions with which I will constantly grapple…

     

    The Fabrics I used

    I made the tank out of our Robert Kaufman Catalina Knit in White; and, I made the cardigan out of our Tactel Nylon Knit in Magenta. Both fabrics were easy to sew. The Catalina knit doesn’t have any spandex, and it made me realize how rarely I sew with non-spandex knits. I ended up redoing the neck and armhole bindings on the tank a couple of times partly because I started with a size too large, but also because I am not accustomed to the lack of recovery. The Tactel nylon was just the right weight for twin-needle top stitching on my regular machine, which looks so pro!

     

    Alterations I made

    I made small alterations to both the tank and the cardigan. For the tank, I did a ¾” full-bust-adjustment, and I shortened the neck and armhole bindings by at least an inch each. I lengthened the cardigan by two inches, which meant lengthening three pattern pieces. Angela includes beautiful illustrations showing how and where to lengthen each piece. I love that she removes the need for me to do any mental gymnastics. She also explains the best way to apply the neck and armhole bindings (where to stretch, and where to not stretch).

     

    Conclusions

    Although both the tank and the cardigan are quick to sew, my sewing windows are very short and sporadic, so I ended up using three different machines and four different techniques during construction. I serged the inside of the cardigan at the shop, which worked great because there aren’t any tricky little corners. Then I topstitched all cardigan the hems with a twin needle on my Bernina at home. I sewed the tank on my Bernina at home using it’s cool “heavy knit” stitch. When I decided to rip out the bindings on the tank to tighten them up, I reinserted them at the shop using our new Eloflex thread and a straight stitch on my Viking. Do you ever use a ton of different sewing techniques and machines in one project?

     

  • Make an Improv Pin Cushion

    I love pin cushions! I have little ones scattered all over my sewing room so I always have fine patchwork pins within easy reach while I'm working on a quilt.

    In this post, I'm going to show you how to create a fun little improv pin cushion using scraps from the Fierce Protean mini quilt.

       

    Gather up your supplies

    You will need fabric scraps, crushed walnut shells, and a small piece of fiberfill.

       
    The supplies you'll need for your pin cushion. Gather your supplies.
     

    Make the Improv Top

    1. Cut small 1-inch to 2-inch pieces from your scraps. These pieces can be any shape.
    2. Use a 1/4-inch seam allowance and start sewing pieces right-side together. They do not need to fit exactly.
    3. Press seams.
    4. Continue sewing pieces along raw edges until you have either a square or rectangular shape big enough for a pin cushion. I like to keep my pin cushions small, but you can make yours as big as you want.

     
    Stitching your scraps together to create the top. Stitching your scraps together to create the top.
     

    Square It Up and Quilt It

    1. Square up your improv piece. My example is about 4 x 3 inches.
    2. Cut a piece of fabric the same dimension as your improv top. I like to use this second piece of fabric as a stabilizer to give the pin cushion top a bit more substance.
    3. Layer the improv top over the piece from step 6 and quilt. In my example, I did some basic straight-stitch quilting.

     
    The top of the pin cushion. The top of the pin cushion.
    Quilting your improv pin cushion. Quilting your improv pin cushion.
     

    Sew It Together

    1. Cut another  piece of fabric the same size as your quilted improv piece for your pin cushion bottom.
    2. Place the pin cushion top and bottom right-sides together and sew using a 1/4-inch seam allowance. Be sure to leave an opening for turning.
    3. Clip the corners carefully to reduce bulk.
    4. Turn the pin cushion so the right-sides are out.
    5. Fill with crushed walnut shells, about 3/4 of the way to the top.
    6. Place a small piece of fiberfill into the opening so that the walnut shells do not escape!
    7. Hand stitch the opening closed.

     
    The finishing touches! The finishing touches!
     

    Enjoy your new improv pin cushion!

    Happy quilting!

    Jen

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