Saturday, July 26, 2014

Coverstitch Update

I decided to write an update on my decision to buy the Janome Coverpro 1000 CPX since I have received several inquiries lately related to my past posts about my search for a coverstitch machine.

I sew a lot of knits and, honestly, should have purchased a coverstitch years ago. Most of the knits I sew can be done almost entirely with the serger and the coverstitch. The Janome Coverpro 1000 CPX works great for my needs. I must admit it did take a little practice. It does not sew quite as smoothly as a regular sewing machine. But maybe it is not supposed to. I wasn't able to test drive any coverstitch machines before I ordered the Janome from a local dealer who carries Janome machines, but no coverstitch machines, in stock. I based my decision on the information and support from the Janome Coverpro forum at I can't imagine any question that couldn't be answered on the Coverpro discussion group. They even suggest the best suppliers for needles and accessories. There are little tricks to be learned, such as how to end the stitching in the middle of the fabric, such as a sleeve hem,  rather than sewing off the end of the fabric. There are great Janome tutorials for this on YouTube and I still refer to them if I haven't used the coverstitch for some time. Believe me, if you don't end the stitching correctly, your entire row of stitching ravels out!

As with any new machine, it takes practice and experimentation with the different fabrics. For example, I soon learned that, when hemming a lightweight knit, I needed to add a little support to the fabric so that the hem doesn't tunnel. I use Design Plus ultra-soft double sided fusible to fuse the hems in place and to prevent tunneling. I haven't tried other brands but I'm sure there are other options available as well.

This is an example of a sleeve hem on a very lightweight knit which I fused first with 3/8" double sided fusible. Not only does it prevent tunneling, it also helps me to press up a very even 3/8" hem. Since coverstitch hemming is done from the right side, it is important to work with an even hem.

Janome coverstitch hem on knits

For this medium weight jersey knit top, I was able to use the coverstitch machine to finish the neckline band, the sleeve hems and the bottom hem. I made a self-fabric binding and sewed it on with the regular machine first because, sometimes, I  pull the binding a little too tight as I sew it on. I try to get it right with a long machine stitch before I serge or coverstitch so I can easily remove the stitching and sew it again until I get the look that I like. I have experimented with a row of stitching on each side of the seam as I coverstitch as seen in RTW, but decided that I have more control with this method.

Janome Coverstitch neckband

This is the sleeve hem of the same top. I fused the hem with the double-sided fusible and sewed the hem before sewing the side seam. Since this is a medium weight knit, I could have sewn this hem without the fusible, however, I have found that it is much easier to coverstitch narrow hems with the fusible.

Janome Coverstitch on sleeve hem

This is the bottom hem of the top. I sewed the front and back hems on the coverstitch before sewing the side seams and adding the ties. I didn't use the fusible on the bottom hem since this is a medium weight knit. It worked fine without it and did not tunnel.

Janome Coverstitch hem

Now for the fun stuff! I tried to find ribbing for this Kwik Sew 3090 knit baby gown at the local Hancock Fabrics. They don't carry it at all. I went next door to Rugged Wearhouse, an outlet type store, to search for a ribbed garment I could cut up and use for ribbing. I found Gap tank tops in the junior department for $1 each! That's a lot of ribbing for $1. I was able to remove the ribbing from the neck and both armholes and use it for this gown and bib. It was already the right size and pre-folded for me. I guess it doesn't take much to excite me because this find made my day! I still have the rest of the tank top to cut up and use for ribbing on other projects.

Kwik Sew 3090 coverstitch neck binding

Kwik Sew 3090 coverstitch binding

This little gown is made from two boys t-shirts I found on the clearance rack at WalMart, a stripe and a coordinating solid. I used the solid for the neck trim, sleeve band, and for the hat. The hat is Kwik Sew 2433.

Kwik Sew 3090 coverstitch

For this type of binding, I sewed it on right sides together, stretching slightly. Then I pressed to the inside and pinned without turning under the edge. I sewed with the coverstitch and then trimmed close to the stitching. I notice this method used often in RTW knits when I do "snoop" shopping.

Kwik Sew 3090 coverstitch neck binding

I like the elastic at the bottom which pulls in the gown a little to help keep baby's feet covered. I quartered the elastic and the gown bottom, pinned, and stitched with the regular machine before turning to the inside and final stitching with the coverstitch. I used two different colors of thread because I was too lazy to change the thread but I don't think baby will mind.

Janome Coverpro elastic hem

I made all these projects in just a few days using primarily the serger and coverstitch machine. I have sewn knits for as long as I can remember, but never with the professional results I enjoy with the coverstitch machine. It would have been great to try out several machines before purchasing but they just aren't available to me locally. I especially would have liked to try out a serger/coverstitch combination machine. However, it would have to be extremely fast to convert back and forth to make me happy.

Good luck with your search for the right coverstitch machine. I would still be sewing knits if I didn't have one but, as I mentioned earlier, I wish I had purchased one long before I did!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Sewing Emergency! and a New Summer Top

I had a little sewing emergency over the weekend with the Bernina that I use for most of my sewing. The machine is fine but it stopped communicating with the embroidery unit. And, of course, I have a stack of projects that I need to monogram. I drove 75 miles on Monday to get it to a reputable Bernina dealer who promised to have it ready in about a week. Of course, he also showed me the new generation of Bernina embroidery systems in a non-pushy sort of way. I was quite impressed with the Bernina 780. Things have come a long way since I purchased my system in 2003.
  • The bobbin holds 80% more thread.
  • Freearm embroidery
  • Dual feed
  • 1000 stitches per minute
  • USB connections
I have begun my research but, hopefully, my old machine will be a simple fix, maybe a short in the cable.

I miss my Bernina and really wanted to sew a summer top last night. I have a lightweight Brother travel machine on loan to my daughter. I pulled out my Singer Genie that I purchased in 1973 or 1974 when I was in college. Last year, I had it supposedly "restored" but knew that it still wasn't quite right. Oh my, it sounds like a freight train with all it's parts about to fall off. It had no stability to sew even a straight seam. Frustrated, I put it away and pulled out my dependable Singer featherweight which was made the year I was born. It sewed beautifully!!!

Singer featherweight

For the neckline of this top, I always make bias binding rather than facing as the pattern suggests.

Kwik Sew 2866 neck binding

This is one of my fabrics that I purchased last summer at FabricMart in Honolulu. It is a woven rayon and feels wonderful. I don't know why I waited so long to sew it up. Kwik Sew 2866 is such a quick pattern and can be made in about 1 1/2 hours. 

Kwik Sew 2866

I can't seem to get that Bernina 780 off my mind. Any advice from others who have this machine or have taken it for a test drive?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Cute Little Newsboy Hat

Need a quick little gift for baby? I found this adorable crochet pattern on Etsy for a little baby newsboy hat.  I appreciate that someone has the time and patience to figure out a pattern, write it down in easy-to-understand instructions, and make it available on Etsy.

crochet baby newsboy hat
Ravelry link
Rather than striping as the pattern suggested (which is pretty cute), I added a band with buttons. I was using leftover yarn from other projects and didn't have the right combination for striping.
I made the 3-6 months size because I think I crochet a little tight. I need to work on that. The pattern includes sizes newborn to large adult.

I can't wait to see the little guy in his stylish hat! He might need some little crochet loafers to go with it........

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Dressed for Derby

What a fun project this turned out to be! My daughters went to the Kentucky Derby this year and, of course, needed new dresses. The Oaks is the day before Derby and is partnered with Bright Pink, an organization which focuses on risk reduction and early detection of breast cancer. Everyone is encouraged to wear pink and they do!

Remember the Little White Dress Contest sponsored by Well, Hannah wore her little white dress with a beautiful pink hat which she bought on ebay. The hat has a stargazer lily which is the official flower for The Oaks.

Little White Dress Kentucky Oaks
The Oaks

Just for fun, Hannah entered the Longines Kentucky Oaks Fashion Contest. Simon Baker from The Mentalist was one of the judges and told her that she looked "beautifully understated". Made her day!

The Oaks Longines Fashion Contest

The next day was the 140th running of The Kentucky Derby. Sarah wore Vogue 1236 in red/white striped seersucker. I made the same adjustments that I made for "The Underwear Dress" and it turned out great! I lined it with a cotton batiste and added a zipper to the back to make it easier to put on and take off.

Vogue 1236 Vogue 8648
Patternreview link

She wanted a monogrammed bow for her hat because it's all about the hats at The Derby.

Monogrammed hat

Hannah's dress is Vogue 8648. I've had this pattern in my stash for a Susan Khalje class on Craftsy but haven't had the time to start. The pattern was designed to be cut on the bias. Instead, I marked the straight grain and cut the medium weight linen straight. There are lots of seams for taking up and letting out so it was extremely easy to get a good fit.

Vogue 8648 Kentucky Derby
Patternreview link

My daughters loved their classic Made by Mommy dresses. While Hannah was standing in line for the Longines Fashion Contest, one of the contestants asked her if her dress was Lily Pulitzer. She told her no, it's a JanMade! That makes it all worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Vogue 1236 (Sarah's Underwear Dress)

Well, hello blog! It's been a while. I've been too busy sewing (and remodeling bathrooms) to sit down and blog. My daughters attended the Kentucky Derby and Oaks a couple of weeks ago and kept me busy making dresses. One of my daughters lives 100 miles away and chose Vogue 1236 for her dress. I thought I had better sew up a "muslin" first for fitting. I grabbed a piece of cotton fabric from my stash of underwear fabric from the local underwear factory. I thought I would seam this dress up just enough to check the fit. The more I sewed, the more I liked the cool cotton print so I decided to finish it up. I raised the front neckline just a little and a couple of other minor adjustments. Sarah didn't seem all that excited at first about wearing the "muslin" but I left it with her anyway. She texted me last week to tell me that she wore her underwear dress to church! She decided that it's a pretty comfortable little summer dress and that she might like a couple more.  I guess I'll have to let her go shopping in my underwear stash.

Vogue 1236

The pattern doesn't have a zipper so I didn't insert one in this version. I decided, however, that for her Derby dress I would add a zipper to the back to make it a little easier to get on.

Coming soon....Derby seersucker version of Vogue 1236.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Winter Street Dress from Patternreview

I'm pretty excited to share with you my two new Winter Street Dresses which are the result of my pattern testing for Deepika's new pattern available here at This is Deepika's version which is so cute on her with the ruffled sleeves and pink polka dots.

Winter Street Dress Patternreview

I downloaded the pattern and put it together very quickly. I sometimes dread this aspect of downloadable patterns but this was probably the most well planned pattern I have ever assembled. I traced the extra small size for my daughter so that I could use the pattern again for myself. The dress is described as "an easy to sew knit dress with a waist seam and a narrow pleated skirt." And, easy to sew is right!

After sewing together the bodice with a similar weight knit and getting a perfect fit, I cut out Hannah's purple ponte knit dress. Hannah is very petite so I took the dress up at the side seams and also moved the pleats in a bit more toward the center. I raised the waistline seam slightly as well just to keep everything proportioned for her height. Since this pattern works well with many different types and weights of knit fabrics, I think it is important to be flexible and let the fabric "speak" to you. For example, since ponte is a heavier knit, I stitched the pleats down for an inch or so.

Winter Street Dress

The assembly is streamlined on this dress. After sewing the bodice front to skirt front, the bodice back to skirt back and sewing the sleeve in flat, the entire side seam is sewn in one swoop from the bottom of the hem, up the skirt, the bodice, and finally the sleeve. This method made it extremely easy to take the dress in a bit at the side seams.

Winter Street Dress Patternreview
Patternreview Link

Winter Street Dress Patternreview

As soon as I started sewing up Hannah's dress, I realized that the possibilities were endless for this pattern. I couldn't wait to finish it so that I could start another for myself. I really stepped outside of my comfort zone for this one because I don't wear a lot of prints and I haven't worn a maxi dress since high school when they were popular for a short time!

Patternreview Winter Street Dress
Patternreview Link

I chose a rayon jersey knit for my dress with a rather bold pattern. I had to be careful about pattern placement so that I didn't have a large medallion in the wrong place. I'm about 5"4" and was able to get this version from about 1 3/4 yards of 60" fabric for a size medium. The armholes are perfect for a sleeveless version. I didn't change a thing. I cut fabric strips for the neckline and armholes and added with the same method that I use for ribbing. I folded in half lengthwise and sewed them on with the serger, stretching the strips as I sewed. I used the coverstitch on the right side to hold everything in place. The coverage is great in the arm area for a 50 something mom like myself.
Winter Street Dress Patternreview

As Deepika, suggested, I stabilized the waist seam with elastic and that worked great to keep the weight of the long skirt from pulling down on the dress.

To adapt the skirt to maxi length, I drew a new side seam straight down from the widest part of the hips to the hemline. This basically changed the skirt pattern from the tulip shape to a rectangle. This gave me plenty of room to walk.

The pleats in this rayon jersey lay nice and flat across my hips so I didn't need to stitch them down as I did in Hannah's ponte version. 

Winter Street Dress Paternreview

Every time I tried on this dress for a fitting as I sewed, I would model it for my family and say, "I just love my new dress!" Eventually, as I walked into the room, they would just go ahead and say, "I know, you love your new dress!"

It was such fun to be part of the pattern testing group and the blog hop. I think you'll be amazed as you visit these blogs at how versatile this pattern is. It's hard to believe they were all made from the same pattern. 4/2/2014 4/3/2014 4/4/2014 4/5/2014 4/6/2014 4/7/2014 4/8/2014 4/9/2014 4/10/2014 4/11/2014 4/12/2014 4/13/2014 4/14/2014 4/15/2014

Thanks to Deepika and Patternreview for the opportunity to test this pattern and join in on the Winter Street Dress Blog Hop!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Aloha Shirt for Hubby

Last summer, my family took a trip to Honolulu to show my daughters where their Dad grew up. He was born and raised in Honolulu but hadn't been back to visit for 30 years. We visited Pearl Harbor, North Shore, Blow Hole, and all the must-see sights of Oahu. We had a small Memorial Service for their grandparents at Hawaiian Memorial Gardens and took the girls to Punchbowl to locate their great grandparents' graves. We went to Leonard's Bakery for malasadas and W & M Burger for teriburgers.We found all of the nine houses that my husband lived in while growing up there.


Now this is a sewing blog so you know where this story is going. I asked my family if I could make a quick stop at Fabric Mart. I knew this would not be a quick stop. Thousands of rolls of fabrics! I bribed them suggested to them that if they would each choose a fabric, I would make everyone a garment to help them remember Hawaii.

Fabric Mart Honolulu

They were agreeable and this is what we came up with. Shirt for hubby, shorts for son-in-law, blouses and dresses for my daughters and myself.

Fabric Mart Honolulu

I bought the Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt pattern from the Victoria Jones Collection at Fabric Mart for my husband's aloha shirt. He likes the authentic aloha shirts. He also likes his aloha shirts made wrong side out for a more muted appearance.

Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt Victoria Jones Collection
Patternreview Link

There are lots of great tips included in this pattern. For example, the pattern not only suggests grading certain seams, it also indicates which seam allowance to cut wider and which to cut narrower. There is also a tip for preventing the undercollar from peeking out.

Hawaiian Classics aloha shirt Victoria Jones collection collar

I used Pro-Woven Shirt-Crisp from Fashion Sewing Supply for the front band and collar and Pro-Woven Super-Crisp for the neckband. This interfacing is great! I probably would not be making shirts had I not discovered this interfacing.

I think my favorite detail of this aloha shirt pattern is the side vent. It is an overlapped vent and makes the shirt look very authentic and classic.

Victoria Jones Collection aloha shirt side vent

The instructions for this vent are very good, but just to be sure that I understood them before I "clipped to the dot" on the real thing, I made a mock-up with a scrap of nonwoven interfacing.

Victoria Jones Collection aloha shirt side vent

Now that makes one finished and six more to go from my Hawaii stash. This project was the most detailed of the seven so the rest should be a breeze!