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HOW TO SEW: self-drafted dress with belt

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Good Morning Everyone!

Today I would like to share with you a short “how to” for a dress that I made this week – I had an eye for this dress on Pinterest for a very long time, but I didn’t have an appropriate fabric for it (this dress is all about the right fabric, isn’t it?). I found an ideal fabric for it more than half a year ago, but still didn’t make the dress, because… it’s completely not my style and I was worried I would not wear it (trust me, this happened before – I make something nice, but end up not wearing it because I don’t feel like “myself” in it, yikes!). Luckily, I pitched the idea of this dress to my lovely sister-in-law and she agreed that I make this dress for her, so here it is!

I used my own drafted pattern for this project: while I still use commercial patterns from time to time, I usually end up making tons of corrections for fit, so instead I have a basic pattern block made for my measurements and just use it for creating a desired look much faster and efficiently. “Basic pattern block” might sound like something very difficult and high-tech, but actually, it’s is the most simple, yet well fitting pattern for a dress you can find (for example, I used to use this dress from Burda as my basic pattern block for stretch dresses – the outer design is awful, but the under-dress pattern is a great and versatile piece).

For this dress, I have adjusted the basic stretch dress pattern (black lines) to the desired design (red lines). The dress is unfitted, so it will be easy to make even if it will be your first self-drafted pattern; it only has three pieces (1 piece for front, 1 back piece and 1 piece for belt), thus the assembly is beginner-friendly and (I hope) pattern modifications are easy to understand from the drawing.

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Best of luck with your projects and let me know if you have any questions for this dress! I would love to see your creations if you decide to make this dress, so please keep me updated!

Beautiful Sunday, Julie.

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DID IT MYSELF: Rosy Jacket (+Burda pattern review)

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Hello Everyone!

This jacket is very special for me, as I have been eyeing this pattern from Burda Style magazine since I started sewing, but never felt I had enough skills to make it or a right fabric never came along. Luckily, on my trip to fabric store two weeks ago I spotted this beautiful rose-color fabric and immediately knew – the time has come to tackle that jacket!

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The pattern is from 06/2007 Burda Style magazine (you can find the pattern here) and at the time it was only the second sewing magazine I purchased – I was still at school and not with the budget for such things, but the designs in this particular issue looked worth the splurge.

While I loved the style of the jacket, I made two big changes in the design: eliminated the double collar (the fabric I chose was too thick, but also I am not a big fan of this design feature) and fitted the back, as the pattern suggested unfitted one (and on me, as a pear-shape figure owner, it’s never a good choice).

The jacket is fully lined (even the pockets!) and it gives extra-nice feeling when wearing it.

I also would like to give you a sewing tip that I find very useful: always hand-stitch the garment and try it on to check the fit, before you bring it to the sewing machine. This allows you to make needed fitting alterations much more efficiently and saves from many seam ripping later on.

All in all, this jacket is truly a winner and it adds to the work-wardrobe very nicely!

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HOW TO SEW: cosmetics bag tutorial

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Hello Everyone!

As some of you already know, a few years back I was very passionate about bag making and even had a blog about it. Today I would like to share with you one of the tutorials I had published on that blog – while the tutorial is +/- 5 years old, I think that the style is more or less timeless, so I hope you will find it useful and it will give you some inspiration for a Saturday project!

What I love about this cosmetics bag is versatility – depending on the fabrics you choose, it can be flashy, cute, rock-n-roll or classic, just like the version I made. What is more, it could be a great DIY Christmas gift idea – who would not like a nice specially made for them cosmetics bag?!

Let’s move to the tutorial!

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Continue reading “HOW TO SEW: cosmetics bag tutorial”

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#SewTalk: How long it takes to learn to sew?

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Hi Everyone!

Good to be back to #SewTalk Mondays – I love sewing, but I love talking about it as well, so these little chats are always very refreshing! If you have any question about sewing – please let me know if the comments below, I will be glad to answer them on my next #SewTalk! Let’s move to today’s interesting topic:

How long it takes to learn to sew?

Very good question, though I do not have a definite answer to it: some people are naturally talented at it and catch up with how things work quite fast; others – like me – may not be that gifted in this field, but compensates through hard work and putting extra hours to it. Because of that, I am able to answer this question only based on my own journey, meaning it may or may not apply to others.

There is a great book by Malcolm Gladwell “Outliers: The Story of Success” which analyses why some people are successful and others are not – one of the main points in it is that you have to put at least 10.000 hours into something you want to excel at. Of course, these are number of hours you need to put in if you want to become a professional at a certain field, but the idea applies everywhere: if you want to become good at something, you need to put time to it.

The first garment that I made and dared to wear in public was a blouse and I worked on it each evening for one week (roughly, it was about 10-12 hours of work); before this blouse I tried (but miserably failed at) making two garments (approx. 8 hours in total) – all this combined, it took me about 20 hours of sewing just to learn to make a somewhat decent looking garment.

The first well-fitting garment that I made was a white linen unlined jacket and it was a first garment that I wore more than once. However, to gather enough skills to make it, I had to first make about 3-4 not-so-well-fitting clothing pieces, worth about 30 additional hours of sewing. To sum up, it took about 50 hours of sewing to make my first nicely fitting clothing piece, which was the beginning of my me-made wardrobe.

The math of hours gets lost later on, as I got distracted from sewing as the years went by and I was making around 4-6 garments a year (yup, I had such stages in life where sewing machine was the last thing on my mind). Those were not the times my sewing skills grew much, but at least I was learning a little bit of something new with every clothing piece that I made, no matter how rare it happened.

Fast forward to last year, when I felt I was not happy where my skills are and decided to enroll to sewing school, which means clocking at least 2.5 hours of sewing every day after work. I made a commitment to learn as much as I can throughout these 2 years of school and I try to squeeze in as much sewing to my schedule as I can, meaning I try to find at least 10 hours for it on weekend as well. These hours combine to approx. 22 hours a week, or 1215 hours of sewing a year. Now this input gave significant boost: my sewing skills got better; I sew much quicker (it took me about 5 hours to complete a well-fitted lined jacket you recently saw on my Instagram – unimaginable speed to earlier days, where I would have spent more than a week on a clothing like that) and I even feel comfortable and skilled enough to sew for others, which was a big no-no for me before.

Of course, I only feel comfortable in putting so many hours to sewing because I truly love it; to others such hours might sound out of touch (and it’s okay – to many it’s a fun hobby that does not need to be taken to the extremes), but I hope my point is clear: everyone can learn to sew and it depends how much time and work you put in it. Even dressmakers at Dior haute couture atelier where once novices, think about that!

 

Wish you all a productive work week.

Yours truly, Julie

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SEWING FOR OTHERS: skirt for Grandma

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Hello Everyone!

Though I mostly think of myself as a selfish seamstress (meaning, I want to sew for myself only), I have reached a point in my life where I am starting to want to make something for others as well (or, maybe, I cannot fit more dresses in my closet, ha!).

When I enrolled to sewing school, my grandmother was one of the most supportive people about this matter – she likes sewing as well and remembers me wanting to play with her old non-electric Singer sewing machine since I was a few years old. So, naturally, when she asked me to make her a skirt, I couldn’t say ‘no’.  

It was a rather challenging task to make the skirt, though: for one thing, Grandma’s measurements are very different from my own and I never sewn for such figure before; the second thing, she left me to make a decision about the style of the skirt, though I am no expert at 75+ year olds fashion (I do love Advanced Style blog , but that’s pretty much it).

I solved these both issues by making a basic skirt pattern based on her measurements and adding circled inserts to the sides, to make the design less standard. Also, the skirt is made from sturdy, yet stretchy fabrics, so it gives an extra nice wear. The result: Grandma loved the skirt and it fits her perfectly – it was definitely worth all the effort to see her smile after trying out her new garment!

A few photos from the process:

  • I added circled inserts to the sides of the skirt for extra design touch;
  • Prior to sewing seams with sewing machine, I always hand-stitch the garment with rare stitches and try it on for fitting – definitely saves from lots of seam ripping later on!

Upclose photos of finished skirt:

Best wishes, Julie

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DID IT MYSELF: Classy Vest (+pattern review!)

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Hello Everyone!

Throughout my sewing “career” I have made quite a lot of items: mostly dresses, several skirts, jacket, even a pair of awful pants (I am yet to come across a nicely fitting pair of pants – no matter if RTW or handmade, the just-don’t-look-good on me). But out of all the things I ever made, I never made a vest – in fact, I don’t think I ever even owned a vest. Just not my style, and that’s that.

Having that in mind, I surprised myself BIG time, when I woke up one Saturday morning, looked at a little scrap of fabric that was left from previous project and decided to go for the vest, for the first time ever. To even bigger surprise – I loved it! (though I must admit it took me a week, until I finally gathered myself into wearing it to work – yup, even little style changes takes time for me to accept, am I the only one like this?). And that red lining? Oh, just something to give it some “Louboutin” feeling (or – more believable – it was the only lining I had on random early Saturday morning, ha!).

The pattern is from Burda Style magazine, issue 11/2012 (you can see the drawing, as well as styling photos from the magazine here).

Changes I made in the pattern: shortened the vest by 5cm; the armpit was way way too low, so I added about 4cm to it; and added two pockets, as well as did my usual fitting for pear-shape figure (the pattern was very nice to fit, because of all the cut in the front and back).

Do I recommend the pattern: I would recommend it to others, as it is a great vest! I especially liked the unusual sleeves and the fitting.

A few posing photos, to show-off the fit (really happy how the back fit turned out – it’s usually the most difficult part for me!):

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And a little “behind the scenes” from the making of the vest (I just looove how lined items look a complete mess before you turn them out :))

Productive new week to you all!

Your truly, Julie

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#SewTalk: How to react if people ask you to fix things?

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Hi Everyone!

Please excuse for late #SewTalk Monday coming on Tuesday – sometimes the world around you starts spinning even faster than usual, adding more things labelled “urgent and important” and forcing on some extra re-prioritisation. But enough about that and let’s talk about our favourite topic – sewing!  Boy oh boy, this week’s #SewTalk pickle is a good one:

When people learn that I sew, they constantly start asking to fix their clothing – replace the zipper, take-in a dress, hem pants and etc., but I don’t like doing that. How can I politely say “no” in this situation? Or should I just take it as a compliment and do what asked?

Oh, how I totally understand you – fixing things for others is something that instantly kills my sewing mojo (talked a bit more about that in last week’s #SewTalk). No, seriously: if you want me to lose love for sewing, just give me a pair of pants to hem – I will avoid the sewing machine for as long as I can! As this activity gives me zero joy and is not very interesting financially (because, well, let’s face it: people who ask you to fix something for them, usually want you to do it free of charge), therefore I politely decline such requests most of the time – you can call me selfish, but with the limited time that we all have, I am just not okay with the idea of doing something I don’t like, something that does not develop my skills any further nor gives reasonable financial benefits, and fixing clothing for other falls exactly in this category.

Throughout the time I found two politely, yet effective ways to decline such proposals, depending on how they are asking and my inner reasoning:

  • “Sorry, but my skills are not yet at the level where I could do this fix in the quality that is needed and just cannot take a risk of ruining this clothing for you”. For the longest time I did not feel secure about my sewing skills and I would not take up on doing any project for others, let alone “trying” to fix something – the good thing is, people usually accept such honest reasoning (or, more likely, don’t want you to “test” your skills on their 100 Eur pants, ha!).
  • “Thank you for asking this, but I don’t do fixing, however there is a local atelier just around the corner that does a good job with great quality-price ratio!”. Sometimes, the cold-hard truth is the best way to go – you don’t like fixing clothing and that’s it. But do add a suggestion where they could find help – people will not feel uncomfortable with the decline, if you will offer a suggestion to them!
  • “I feel flattered that you trust my skills to perform this task, but at the moment I have a lot going on and all my projects are planned few months ahead. You should check this local atelier – they will be able to do it for you almost instantly and you won’t have to wait!”. We live at times where people value time over anything and so they will surely understand this reasoning, as long as you add a notion where they can find a quicker help!

In conclusion, I  would like to add that asking people to do favours is a two way street: if you don’t like to be asked to fix clothing for others, think twice before asking people to do something they don’t have to for you (I always feel a little bad for programmers, as they are used to hearing “Oh, you work with computers? I have a problem with mine, can you take a look?”).

That’s it for today’s #SewTalk – if you have a question you would like to ask, let me know in the comments below or send an email at julie@sewingjulie.com and I will answer them next week!

Wish you all a great and productive week!

Yours truly, Julie

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DID IT MYSELF: Blue Party Dress

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Hi Everyone!

Though I like making dresses, party dresses are not my thing – I’d rather spend time making something that I’ll get use of wearing every week to work, thank spending same time on a dress I’ll wear once or twice for a celebration. That being said, I have a rule to own at least one party dress at all times, so that when I get the invitation I can easily pick it from the closet without spending extra time thinking “what to wear”. Through all special occasions last year I wore this red number, but when the celebrations started to repeat itself (like annual companies party) I needed a new one and this is how this blue beauty came to be.

The dress is made from stretchy fabrics, so I had to include extra constructional steps (such as interfacing, lining and stabiliser) to give it a more defined shape and make it look like a special occasion dress, rather than an everyday dress. Sewing tip here is simple: when adding interfacing and lining to stretchy fabrics, make sure they all are stretchy, otherwise it will be recipe for disaster.  

This pattern is drafted by me, but if you would like to make one yourself,  Burda has a very similar one here and I also posted a tutorial on adding a high-low hemline half circle skirt to any dress here.

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And here are a few photos of me wearing the dress in the event:

Have a nice Sunday evening!

Best regards,

Julie

 

#SewTalk

#SewTalk: What to do if I lost my sewing mojo?

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Hi Everyone!

In #SewTalk Monday I answer questions about sewing – if there is anything you want to know, please feel free to let me know in the comments below and I will answer them on next weeks #SewTalk Monday! This weeks question:

Lately I have been feeling uninspired to sew and cannot find motivation to finish project I started. What to do if I lost my sewing mojo?

I think it’s one of those things we all go through: one minute we are on a “wave” and tackle project after project, then all of a sudden we get stuck and cannot even finish simple garment we started (yup – been there, done that). As with all problems in life, best way to find a solution for the issue is to find the root of why it happened. Based on my own experience, following reasons are most common:

  • Life happens. I started a full-time job while I was still in university, so I had a lot on my plate to focus on. Juggling between lectures, exams and starting a career made me limit all other activities to the minimum, including sewing, and I almost completely did not sew for a couple of years (at that time I would make 1-2 garments a year, yikes!). What to do? If you have other priorities that rate higher than a hobby of sewing, your entire focus should be to main importance areas. Don’t worry – sewing is like riding a bike: once you learn it, you will always know how to do it, so you will be able to return to active sewing once things in life get less intense.  
  • The project is too difficult/boring and etc. – the problem is with the project, not your sewing mojo. I too had some very uninspiring projects that made me dread even looking at sewing machine and make me want to do anything else but sewing.  What to do? It might not be a popular opinion, but I would advice to put that struggling project away and start something you would enjoy making. Now mind you, I do like to push myself and tackle difficult tasks, however I also know that there are some projects that might kill entire joy of sewing for long years to come, so I’d rather put them aside, make something fun instead and might return to it after some time!
  • You’re tired. This year, while I am still at sewing school, sewing is one of my key focuses. It means that try to sew or do something sewing related (like this blog, for example) every free minute that I get and I enjoy it a lot. That being said, I have moments when I come home from work at the end of the week and cannot make myself sew even a single stitch. What to do? Give yourself some time off: trust me, even a couple of hours of free-time does wonders; if I would spend a Friday evening relaxing and cosying up, I would feel refreshed and ready to tackle big projects from early Saturday morning!
  • You don’t have an inspiring project on hand. Well, it’s difficult to want to sew if you don’t know what you want to sew; and on contrary – is difficult not to sew, when you have an inspiring project on hand! What to do? Inspiration may not come easy sometimes, so I suggest just search for it! For example, if I feel that I need some inspiration-kick, I would open Instagram feed and look what other sewists are up to; or open Pinterest for some pattern and fashion look ideas; last but not least, I would go to check MimiG, Erica Bunker or GoodByeValentino blogs – these ladies are explosions of inspiration and make me want to run to my sewing machine instantly!

All in all, sewing is a fun hobby to most of us, so make sure to maintain and keep that sewing mojo going!

Best regards,

Julie

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DID IT MYSELF: Red Ladylike Dress

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Hello Everyone!

While it’s a popular saying that every woman should have a little black dress in her closet, I would extend it to “every woman should have a little black dress and a red ladylike dress. Really, having such dress in my closet helps BIG time: a date night? I will put on my red dress and wow the man. Need extra confidence boost at work? Let’s grab that red dress of mine and get things done! Dinner with friends in the city? Okay, where is my red ladylike dress? And the list goes on and on – really these dresses are so versatile, that I find an occasion to wear it several times a month (and always look fabulous, by the way)!

As this dress is made from my own drafted pattern, I will not be able to give my comments about it (because, well, I would probably rate my pattern 10/10 – no objectivity here 😀 ), however, this dress uses one tutorial I posted earlier –  HOW TO SEW: half circle skirt to any dress, please feel free to check it!

Best regards,

Julie

For the hemline, I overlock the edge of the fabric (to avoid it from falling apart), fold it and simply stitch on top – I find this technique to be the best way to hem the half or full circle skirts.

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The neckline is finished using techniques I talked about on my blog post for favourite dress and my basic techniques for dresses video

Half circle skirt tutorial

I love adding half circle skirts to my dresses – you can check a tutorial on that in my recent blog post.