Dress Making Tools and Supplies ~ The Anna Blouse Sew Along

The Anna Blouse is a fun make that requires very few special notions or tools.  Most of them you probably already have in your tool box.

That being said, I have included a comprehensive list of tools ~ many I learned about and used in design school and when I worked in the Apparel Industry.  You do not need all of them (note items marked as optional).  If you will be making lots of garments, I would suggest investing in these tools over time.

~Essential Dress Making Supplies~

~Sewing Machine and needle for Light Weight Fabrics - I like to use a size 10 or 12 woven needle for sewing light weight cotton and rayon fabrics.  A microtex needle specially designed for polyester is a good idea if you are sewing with a polyester or poly blend fabric.  

~ Iron and Ironing board

~ Tape Measure 

~ C-Thru Ruler - any Clear plastic or acrylic ruler will do

~Thread - I prefer cotton thread but an all purpose thread will work as well

~Good quality fabric scissors - so important : )

~Pins - I am partial to Clover Fine .45 mm pins but any pins for fine fabrics will work well.

~Tailors Chalk - This will be used for tracing your pattern. My favorite tailor's chalk is from Clover.    Invest in a light color and a dark color for marking dark and light color fabrics.  Clover also has a chalk tracing pen - the chaco liner - that is wonderful for marking slippery fabric.

~Marking Pen or Pencil - a must have tool for marking the bottom of the tucks and drawing sewing lines for the tucks.

~Carbon Paper and tracing wheel [Optional] - These tools are also a great way to mark tucks, pleats and darts. I will show you how to use them in this sew along.

~1/2" bias tape maker [Optional] - This is not necessary but will make it a bit easier to create the bias binding for the neckline trim.

~Hem or seam gauge [Optional] - [Dritz seam gauge, Dritz Hem Gauge, Clover sliding gauge]  There are numerous tools for marking seam and hem widths.  I will show you how to use these as well as a ruler to mark your hem.

~Pattern Weights [Optional] - Pattern weights can be purchased at your local fabric store. The ones pictured are Dritz brand from Joann fabrics.   You can also find large washers from your local hardware store.
I like to use heavy items from around the house such as tin food cans from the pantry and vintage ball jars from my sewing table.

~Muslin - You can find this inexpensive fabric from most fabric stores.  I like to buy mine by the bolt with a 50% off coupon from JoAnn Fabrics.

~Tracing Paper (If you will be tracing your pattern) My favorite for tracing patterns is medical paper you can buy from Ebay.  It is sold by the roll and one roll will last quite some time!  Nancysnotions.com also carries tracing paper.  There are lots of options out there.  Some seamstresses love Swedish tracing paper which is a stitch able non woven fabric that can be traced on as well as stitched on.

 ***These I would categorize as "Nice to Have Dress Making Supplies" but not absolutely necessary. These are a worthwhile investment if you plan on making lots of garments : ) ***

~Hip Curve A handy tool to have when altering and tracing patterns

~French Curve  Another handy tool to have when altering and tracing patterns

~L-Square Great tool for measuring grain lines on your pattern when laying your pattern out to cut.

Fairgate rulers and measuring templates are the design industry standard.  They have a great set of all the rulers you need HERE.

~Notcher   For marking notches on your pattern. A very handy tool to have as it makes marking notches so easy!

~Circle Punch [The link provided also includes a buttonhole cutter] For marking the ends of darts and tucks on your pattern.

~Tailors Ham  Helpful in pressing garment areas that are not flat - darts, tucks and sleeve caps

~Seam Roll  Helpful in pressing seams such as sleeve seams and pants and trouser seams

You can find the schedule and links for the Sew Along Here.



The Anna Blouse Sew Along ~ Choosing fabric for your Anna

Welcome to the first installment of the 
Anna Blouse Sew Along
Today I will discuss fabric choices.

The Anna Blouse is fitted through the top in the shoulders, sleeve, and armhole area.
It has a slight A-Line Shape which makes it perfect for drapier and light weight fabrics.

~ Choosing Fabrics
[Fabric top center moving clockwise: Dotted Swiss from Fabric.com, Cherry Cotton Lawn from Girl Charlee Fabrics, Small Buds Cotton voile from Drygoods Design, Camera Cotton Voile from Kokka Fabrics, Floral Cotton Voile from YuwaFabrics. Center: Robert Kaufmann Chambray light from Hawthorne Threads] 

I would recommend using lighter weight fabrics such as  Cotton Lawn or Voile.
Other Light Weight cottons such as Chambray or Dotted Swiss would also work well in this style.

[Fabrics Top center moving clockwise: Rayon Challis from Fabric.com, Horse Print in Silk Crepe from Drygood Design,  Floral Tulip Rayon challis from Harts Fabrics, Diamond Rayon Challis Frock Rayon from Cotton + Steel]

Rayon Challis and light weight silks such as Silk Crepe or light weight silks in a plain or twill weave are another good choice.  Silk Charmeuse would give this blouse a dressy look.

Light weight Polyester fabrics will also work but are more of a challenge sew.  If you choose a polyester or poly blend use a sewing machine needle that is designed for sewing these types of fabrics.  Schmetz Microtex (Sharp) Needles work well on polyester fabric.

If you are new to garment sewing, I would start by using a Light Weight Cotton Fabric  which is much easier to sew with than Rayon or Silk.

Cottons and Voiles tend to be sheer especially if the background is cream or white. 
The first Anna I made was in this gorgeous Palos Verdes Cloud 9 print.  I happened to find a perfect salmon colored tank to wear with it.
Be sure to keep this in mind when picking out your fabric.

~ Online Fabric Stores
My favorite way to purchase fabric for garments is at my local fabric store.  It is best to see the fabric and feel the weight and drape in person.  If you do not have a local fabric store that carries apparel fabric,  there are some great on-line options.
Here are some of my favorite online fabric stores for apparel fabric:  Harts Fabric,  Hawthorne Threads. Mood Fabrics, Drygoods Design, Imagine Gnats and Fabric.com.  You can order sample swatches from Harts Fabric, Mood Fabrics and Fabric.com which is a great option to make sure you like the weight, color, scale of the print and quality of the fabric before investing $ in yardage.

Cotton Lawn and Voiles will give the blouse a crisper look but still has a nice drape.
This a Cotton Voile from Kokka Fabrics.
See how the fabric sits away from the dress form? It is not at all clingy.

The tucks at the front also sew up nicely in this type of fabric.
If you are new to sewing narrow binding, cotton lawn or voile are easy to sew and take a crease nicely.

This blouse was made with Rayon From the new Frock Rayon Collection from Cotton + Steel.

This version has a drapier look and feel and is a bit more fluid than a light weight cotton.

~Preparing your fabric

Be sure to prepare you fabric before cutting out the pattern.  Treat the fabric in the same way you will treat the garment.  If you plan on washing and drying in a washing machine and dryer, launder the fabric the same way.  I like to serge or zig zag the raw edges to prevent them from fraying.

Stop by tomorrow and we will discuss the Supplies you need for your Anna!

You can find the details for the Sew Along HERE
and the Pattern HERE



Feather Hobo Bag - Work in Progress Wednesday

I am a bit of a pack rat - I like to have a purse that has everything I could need at all times : )  It is always a bit embarrassing to hand my heavy bag to someone to hold!  I'm sure they are thinking "what on earth does she have in there?".  My favorite style is a slouchy bag - usually referred to as a Hobo Bag.
 I sewed up this version in this beautiful print from Anna Maria Horner.  It is a medium weight fabric in a linen cotton blend and the perfect weight for this type of bag.  I think the large scale feathers lend themselves beautifully to a handbag.

 I added a fusible fleece to the lining to give it a bit of stability.   I love the top zipper closure to hold all my goodies inside. 

The leather tab detail gives the bag extra durability - a very nice feature if you hold lots of things inside your bag : )

After seeing this gorgeous tote bag in person at Anthropologie  last week, I will be making the Hobo bag out of a gold embossed leather hide I found at my local Tandy Leather for only $30!

Sure beats paying the $500 for the Anthro bag : )  Situations like this make me very happy I know how to sew.

If you want to try making leather or suede bag, check out my post with Leather Sewing tips HERE.

Be sure to check out the other WIP projects over at freshly pieced!

Have a great evening!


The Anna Blouse Pattern

I am so happy you are here!  Today I am launching  my first Apparel Sewing Pattern - The Anna Blouse.  It is a flattering style and perfect for the advanced beginner / intermediate sewist.  I will teach you how to sew French Seams and add Bias Trim the easy way!

The pattern includes instructions to make a short sleeve version with a keyhole detail.

Or a long sleeve version with a keyhole detail.
I love this long sleeve version made with Frock Rayon by Cotton + Steel. 

You will also find instructions for making short and long sleeve versions with a tie detail.

The fabric for the version pictured is from Cloud 9 fabrics and can be found HERE.

It has been a long journey starting with the blouse you see pictured above that I made for the Palos Verdes Cloud 9 fabric challenge over at Sew Mama Sew last year.  I knew then that I wanted to create women's clothing patterns for sale. 

My goal is to help you create a hand made wardrobe that looks professionally sewn, with pieces that you love and will wear again and again.

My Anna Blouse includes a pattern for assembling at home as well as a pattern you can send to your local print shop.  I am so excited to offer this option for those of you who would rather print out your pattern on one page!

After much deliberation and feedback from my lovely Instagram friends, I decided to illustrate all the sewing instructions instead of using photos.  
All my instructions are clear, concise and easy to follow.  I will also host a sew along starting March 3rd which will supplement the illustrations featuring photographed instructions and tips.

A little about my background ~
My first sewing love is making clothes.  I worked as a fashion designer for women's clothing for over 20 years and was a founding designer for the lines Halogen at Nordstrom and Sergio Valente for Union Bay.  I studied Apparel Design at Seattle Central Community College where I learned to make and grade patterns, and sew garments ranging from tailored jackets to jeans!  I even produced a line of clothing that I sold in a Seattle Boutique early in my career.

Sewing has been an integral part of my life since I started sewing barbie doll clothes when I was six years old.  It seemed like a natural progression to design clothing patterns for home sewers as I learned to sew clothing from clothing patterns when I was just twelve years old.

You can find The Anna on Etsy HERE.

You can find the Anna Sew Along Schedule HERE.  There is also a button on my sidebar - click on the picture and you will be directed to the Sew Along Page.

Please share your photos in my Let's Make an Anna Blouse Flickr Group and tag you pics on IG with the hashtag #AnnaBlouse.



Me Being Crafty

Hello!  I have been working away on my Anna Blouse to be released on Tuesday Feb 24th.  
Amy over at During Quiet Time has been an absolute lifesaver sewing it up for me!  
I'm so excited to almost have it out in the world.  
I will also host a sew along on March 3rd - details to come!

A few weeks ago I was interviewed by Tsoniki at Me Being Crafty.  
It was such a wonderful experience. 
Tsoniki shares on her blog - "I am interested in the creative journey we take as we discover what makes us an artist." 
Check out her other podcasts - It is so interesting and inspirational to hear other artists creative journeys and unique experiences.



Sewing for Myself - Work in Progress Wednesday

In between other projects I have made a bit of time to do some selfish sewing.  I have seen some cute sweatshirt style tees appear on Instagram inspiring me to sew some comfy tops for myself.
The one pictured above is made from a heathered jersey knit with sequins and solid jersey sleeves and back. The fabric was a screaming deal at Joann fabrics.
The pattern is New Look 6230.  I went up one size and added 3 inches in length to make sure it was extra comfy to wear.

I signed up for Girl Charlee's January Knit fix and received some great fabrics.  Many of the fabrics I would not have chosen for myself but definitely like.  

I decided to make another "sweatshirt" tee  and paired the Southwest Ikat inspired print (It is the print on the bottom right in the stack above) with solid french terry.  

I've really enjoyed wearing it!

My other Work in Progress is cleaning out the basement!  Oh my....it has gotten a bit out of control.
It is amazing how "stuff" that I don't want to deal with or don't have time to deal with ends up in the basement.  I just found some pants I cut out  and have yet to sew for my youngest son when he was 3 years old.  He is now almost 8!
I think a fabric destash is in order very soon.

We are having an architect come to the house tomorrow to talk about remodeling our 950 sq. ft. 1908 bungalow. I wanted to make sure he could walk through our basement  : )

  It is time to remodel and I have put it off for far too long.  
Still suffering from a bit of home remodeling PTSD from tackling this project five years ago.

We want to turn this

into  something like this.
I love the title - "Looks Like $3000 - Costs $995"
If only one could build a new house for that price now : )
This image is a 1916 house from the website antique home.org
A must visit if you like looking at vintage houses.

Wish me luck!



~ January ~ The month in Review

I'm shocked it is already February!  January went by so fast.  I did have some fun creating a few new patterns and tutorials.

You can find my Free Crayon Paper Piecing Pattern ~HERE~  It is a perfect beginning pattern if you have always wanted to try paper piecing. 

Once you make the paper pieced pencil why not make the pencil pouch?  it is a perfect teacher gift or fun gift for a little one filled with crayons or colored pencils.

You can also find lots of tips in the Dec/Jan Issue of Sew it All magazine.  I designed a fun paper pieced sewing machine cover! You can find the paper piecing pattern ~HERE~
Click on "Download the Paper Piecing Guide" to get the pattern.

I finished my "Tea Time" pattern which is in my Etsy and Craftsy shops.

I had fun making my Lovely Gathered Clutch with suede trim and 
I also made one entirely out of suede.
If you'd like to try sewing with suede and leather head on over to find some tips and tricks ~HERE~

I made another short sleeve version of my Anna Blouse.  I love the Kokka camera print fabric.

Stay tuned for a long sleeve version made out of Cotton + Steel Frock Rayon!