The holidays call for fancy fabrics and sequins. Don't you agree? There's just something fun about wearing sparkle during the festive month of December, isn't there? Add soft velvet and, I'm in! If sewing velvet scares you, read this post. I share my sewing machine and tips for tackling tricky fabric.
These Gardner tops fulfilled my fancy holiday fabric needs. The fabric was originally for vintage-style turbans. I've wanted to make velvet ones for quite some time. I only had 1 yard of each and was lucky that the one yard worked out. Whew! I changed direction at some point and decided to make Gardner tops instead. The matching sequin fabric went with the red one, and the sheer floral went with the green one.
As usual, I don't go into depth with Gertie's Patreon patterns because I value her as a creator. However, I like to share tips and photos that show you my process along the way. If you're interested in this pattern, join her Patreon membership. She shares new patterns each month and so much more!
I made one Gardner top following the exact directions and another collar hacked version. This post is full of photos. Let's go!
Red Gardner Top (Original Version)
Start your top by tracing the darts onto the front. I prefer old-school wax paper and a tracing wheel system for this part.
Staystitch the front and back necklines. Sewing from the shoulder towards the center prevents the neckline from stretching out. Never skip this step.
After you sew up the darts, cut them open. If sewing your top with velvet, don't press the seam open.
The sheer fabric is full of glitter, sequins, and all the sparkles. Perfect for holiday festivities.
If you go slow while sewing and make sure your seams are clipped, you shouldn't get any puckers in the V-shaped front. If you do get puckers, unpick that section and re-sew.
Have you always wanted to sew velvet but have been too nervous that you'd ruin the fabric? It's finicky with an iron, let alone a sewing machine right? Wrong. It's easier than you think to sew with. Imagine velvet capes, dresses, and pants!
In the past, velvet has always been a Halloween costume staple around this house. The serger would do all the work for those themed capes and dresses. However, this year, I wanted to dip my toe into something more, dare I say, scary!?
Gertie rolled out her Gardner top on her Patreon, so if you're not a member yet and love vintage fashion sewing, join now! I cannot keep up with all the content and patterns she gives us. No, I'm not sponsored, I just love everything she does for us.
Anywho, back to the Gardner top. The pattern uses knit fabric for the bodice and collar, and sheer or lace for the cutout. I wanted to use some stretch velvet to bump it up a holiday notch. Sequin and velvet scream holiday festivities, so I picked red and green velvet with matching sheer fabrics.
But, before we get into sewing the fabric, let's get your machine set up.
Sewing Machine Tips
I have a Brother PQ1500SL sewing machine. You can read all about it here.
It has a pin feed system that is made for sewing tricky fabrics like velvet. I'm going to show you how to get that set up. If you have a different machine with a pin feed system, refer to your manual to learn how to set yours up.
If you don't have a pin feed system, I suggest reading your manual, as well. But, in a pinch, lower your feed dogs and it might be okay to sew the velvet. I'm just sharing how to do it on my machine because the internet lacked what I was looking for.
See the pin sticking up near the feed dogs? That pin moves the velvet from underneath, similar to how the feed dogs work, but it is more gentle. No velvet will be harmed during sewing.
Use a stretch or sharp needle. This will gently pierce the fabric instead of tearing through it.
Turn the feed dogs to the red position. This lowers them almost fully and engages the pin feed mechanism at the same time.
Raise the presser foot to the red position. This keeps the velvet from being crushed while getting sewn together.
Now that the settings are changed, you have a brand new needle in, and the correct presser foot on, it's time to sew on some scrap fabric.
Grab some scraps of your velvet and practice sewing on them. Sew 2 and 3 layers together using different stitch lengths. I found 2.5mm worked best for my velvet. You might need a longer or shorter stitch length. When I increased the length, my stitches got wonky. Once you get the stitch length sorted out, you should be good to go.
I sewed a few rows just to be sure the stitching was a correct length.
If you'd like to see the process for my Gardner tops, read the posthere. I finished them just in time for NYE. I wore the red one for new years eve. The green one is perfect for wearing during fall through the chilly spring days.
Good luck sewing all of your upcoming velvet patterns. I hope these tips helped you out and made it look less intimidating.
When I was coming up with a title for this post, I kept thinking of the word Upcycle. But, I don't see it used as much anymore. Do you still use the word upcycle? I opted for the DIY term instead. Anywho, onto the post.
Have your kids outgrown some of their favorite clothes? They can't stay little forever, right? Maybe they have something they used to love that no longer fits. You might have a bin of clothing that you don't want to donate or don't know how to put to use.
A friend asked me if I'd make a bag from her daughters old hoodie. It was a rare occasion and I said yes! I was in a rut with my own sewing and thought creating something new would pull me out of it. It worked! The result is super cute and useful, too. That's a win in my book!
If you have an old hoodie packed away that you don't want to get rid of, I have the perfect project for you!
I scoured the interwebs looking for a hoodie up-cycle project and found nothing. I was pretty surprised nothing showed up. There were tons of T-shirt projects, but nothing for sweatshirts. So, I went head first into this challenge. After reading this, I hope you'll pull out those beloved hoodies and put them to use.
First, you'll want to measure the front. You need to figure out the size of the square or rectangle your bag will be. Use chalk or pen to mark it, and cut. I used as much of the sweatshirt as I could because it was a child's hoodie. I decided to the leave the bottom ribbing on the sweatshirt to act as the bottom base for the bag.
Next, cut off the side seam allowances to remove bulk. Cut apart the hood, cuffs, and sleeves and set them aside.
Measure your sleeve length, you'll want to use as much of this as possible for bag detailing. Cut from the shoulder to the wrist, it has the least amount of stretch. I used as much width as I could get away with.
Cut each sleeve strip the same length and width. Pin together, wrong sides together. These will get sewn to the bag top, to add height and some detail. You can baste the edges together before sewing if you'd like but, it's not necessary.
Pin/clip the strips to the top of the bag front and back. Don't sew these on yet.
Take the hood and cut off the seam around the face opening. Both layers should separate and you'll have 2 hood pieces. Take one and measure and cut a 3" wide piece using the whole length. Do this with the second hood. These will be your bag handles.
Clip the handles inwards 2-3" from the sides. Sew with a 1/2" seam allowance. Do this on the front and back pieces.
There was no method to my madness, I didn't exactly make this bag in any particular order.
I used a 1/4" seam but, you should use a 1/2" if you can. I was working with a small hoodie and decided to use a small seam allowance where I could.
If you have a serger, serge the edges to make it nice and clean. You don't need to do this, the fabric won't fray. I made this for something else, so I really wanted it to look nice inside.
Move the handles out of the way and topstitch the seam allowance down with 1/8". This will give the layers extra support.
Next, you're going to clip the sides and bottom together. Sew from one opening, down, and around to the next top. Make sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Don't sew the top.
If you want to leave your bag like this, you're done! Ta-da! Super easy and it uses up a hoodies that has probably been in a drawer or bin, unloved for a long time.
If you'd like to box the corners, keep following along.
I usually cut the triangles off but, decided to leave it on this time. The extra weight helps hold heavy books, tablets, etc. I stitched in the ditch to keep the triangle from flapping around inside. Just fold the triangle up and pin in place, then stitch in the ditch (seam in the seam).
Or, simply cut off the excess triangle.
Ta-da! You're all finished. This would make a great gift for a child or anyone with a beloved hoodie laying around.
The bag is a good size and will be loved and used for years, I'm sure.
I loved leaving the front pocket on so, others would know if was from a hoodie. Such a cute turnout.
There wasn't too much leftover fabric. I'm sure you could make another cute bag or add pockets inside.
I had my daughter model the bag so you could see the size reference. It's a good size!
Thanks for reading along!
Happy hunting and happier sewing.
Sewing a dress or bag can usually cost more than if you bought it at the store. But, it doesn't have to be that way. Sewing can be budget friendly and I've compiled this guide to help you.
Hobbies are good to have. They give our hands something to do and can keep our minds active. Some hobbies can empty your wallet, while others only cost pennies. Sewing can be an expensive hobby. There are so many gadgets and fabrics, and machines, Oh my! But, it can be inexpensive too. I'm here to tell you, you don't need to empty your bank account to sew or advance your skills.
You might think you need that ultra-fancy dress form from a New York store. You don't. You won't need a fancy sewing machine that sings to you either. Let's take a deep dive into the world of sewing on a budget.
When I first started sewing, the craft stores weren't half of what they are now. They offered one rotary cutter, a few boxes of pins, and 1/3 of the fabric selection they have now. Times have changed and the variety has grown tremendously! Hooray! Sales are more prominent now along with budget sewing items. You can get everything you need to create your masterpieces, without breaking the bank! Do you really need 6 different pairs of scissors? Not really. Think needs vs. wants. Ask yourself what a minimalist would do, and you'll be good. ;)
Grab some coffee and a snack, this is a long one.
What You'll Learn
First, I'll share some back story about my own bra journey. I wear a weird size. I can't walk into Target, Wal-Mart, or Macy's and just buy a bra. I have a small ribcage and large... um... blessings. So, I order bras online and pay a ridiculous amount for them. They aren't made any better than what you can find at Target, etc. But, they carry more unique sizes, so I go with that route. I made my first bra last year and it was mind-blowing! It was also extremely easy, cost-efficient, and even fun (once I got the fit down).
Up-cycle Your Brand New Brassiere
So, a few weeks ago, I was walking through Dollar General and grabbed a large bra. I said to myself, I bet I could alter this band size to make it smaller. I held the foam cup up to me and it seemed to be the right cup size. I gave the cashier my $7.00 and drove home. When I got home, I tried it on and had my husband help mark where I would cut the band, to fit my back. I thought Eureka! This is the coolest bra hack ever and I need to share it!!
Side note: I don't think this will work as easily if you need to increase the bra size. This is more of a cut and slash downsizing bra project. I wear a small band, large cup. If you have a small cup, it may be more difficult to do this bra hack.
Hi there, I'm Annette and I love eating and sewing. I usually have a cup of coffee or tea with me, but not next to my machine because I'd probably spill it. I am the reason we can't have nice things.
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