Saturday, August 24, 2013

Cloth Napkins with Mitered Hem: A Tutorial


 We've been invited to visit some  friends at their North Carolina beach house. A hostess gift is in order, and along with a nice bottle of wine and candles, I thought some seersucker napkins might be a perfect beach house offering. 

We never use paper napkins in our house, unless we are eating crabs or ribs, in which case a roll of paper towels on the table is ok with me. I have collected several sets of four over the years, but our favorites are a big set of seersucker ones that I made at least eight years ago and are still used daily. They are soft, yet sturdy and naturally a little wrinkly, so they feel right at home with pizza or burgers, but step up just fine for Sunday's roast chicken. I even pack them in my lunch- a desk lunch feels so much more dignified with a nice big cloth napkin in your lap!  Linen, chambray, twill or gingham are also good choices.  Printed quilting cottons will work, but you will have a definite wrong side. 

Good cloth napkins can be on the pricey side, but they are so easy to make, it doesn't make sense not to sew your own. Plus, they make an awesome gift.

Now, you could just cut a big square and double turn the hem all the way around, but that can lead to lumpy, uneven corners that scream home-made. Here's an easy, fool proof way to make cloth napkins with a nice mitered hem that look pro and will wear forever. 

Materials needed: Cotton Fabric- yardage to cut out as many 20" squares as you desire
                             Water soluble fabric marker
                             Pins (optional) & thread

Begin with pre-washed cotton fabric. Cut into 20" squares.  I use a rotary cutter and self healing mat to get nice and precise. 

Press a narrow 1/4" hem around all four sides.

 Fold a corner of the fabric, right sides together, lining up the pressed edges.

Using your ruler, eyeball a nice right triangle ( two short sides are equal) using 3/4" for the measurement of the short sides. The pressed hem will be the longer side .

This will be your stitching line, so draw a line with the water soluble marker to mark it.

Sorry for the blurry picture. Repeat with the other three corners, then sew all four corner along the marked seam line, being careful to make sure the hemmed edges line up exactly. I didn't pin mine, but you certainly can if it helps. 


Trim off the corners leaving about a 1/4" seam allowance. Then turn the hem right side out.

Use a point turner if necessary and marvel at your beautiful mitered corners! Press all four sides-

Then stitch close to the pressed edge all the way around.

Voila! A quick press and you're done! 

If you have questions, please email me.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rickshaw Kurta

Sarah from Goodbye Valentino posted about her pursuit of the perfect tunic. I can so relate.

Until I hit my mid-forties, I was a die hard tucker-inner. I didn't feel comfortable with my shirt tails hanging out, all sloppy like. I didn't even especially like wearing "blouses," preferring knit tops in the summer months and ribbed turtlenecks in winter, all neatly tucked in with a belt. Slowly but surely, as good ol' gravity began to work her magic, looser tops began to work their way into my wardrobe. 

Winter looks are still a challenge, but I have fully embraced the freedom of a nice, flowy summer top that falls just below the hip and I'm particularly enamored with the Kurta tops by Rickshaw Designs

Theirs are made of printed cotton voile, imported from India, I believe. That stuff is really hard  impossible to find. The limited selection of cotton voile that I was able to locate online was mostly pretty ugly.  I did, however, have a nice red linen in my stash, that is the same fabric I used for this dress

Here's my version of the Rickshaw Kurta:

This is an OOP pattern that I use all the time

Views C&D have exactly the "bib" design I was looking for. For the pintuck section, I just took a long rectangle of fabric and made rows and rows of 1/4" pintucks, the cut the pattern piece from it. I pressed the rows of pintucking in opposite directions from the center. 

It's hard to get a good close-up of the pintuck detail. The pattern calls for the bib section to be completely faced, but I wanted a bias binding like the Rickshaw one. I also cut the sleeves to 3/4 length and slightly gathered them with  the bias binding. 

I wear this top all the time, and probably like it better that I would the real thing. If I ever get my hands on some block printed cotton voile ala Rickshaw, I'll be whipping up another for sure.

Here's another top made from this same super-versatile pattern. This one is slimmer with narrower shoulders, bust darts and a slightly curved lower edge made from a silky poly. Inspired by a Talbots top.


It's chilly and dreary here in the coastal Mid-Atlantic and I'm thinking about getting started on this jacket next- unless my Style-Arc Kate Dress arrives in the mail first!

Thanks for stopping by. -Pam

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

The holy grail

Not really the holy grail, a perfect fitting pants pattern is probably the holy grail, but when it's your intention to sew your wardrobe and you are over 25, the perfect knit wrap dress pattern is up there.

The gold standard: DVF
image via Pinterest

Iconic. Flattering. Seasonless. Classic. 

And spendy. Silk jersey is gorgeous and costly, and once I get it perfect I plan to invest in some, but we aren't there quite yet.  Enter Vogue 8379.

117 sewers made and reviewed this pattern on Pattern Review and it was an excellent place to start. With some $5/yard poly knit from the bargain bin at Hancocks, I began my quest. 
Most of the reviewers found the skirt much too full and removed various amounts of width. I took their advice and folded  a good 18 inches out of my skirt pattern pieces. 

I cut out the smallest size, adjusted for my small bust, per usual, and pinched a tiny bit from the shoulder seams.Since this was a "test dress" I stabilized the neck edge with clear elastic and folded it over instead of using the facing pieces. This was a fairly quick project and I mostly used my serger for construction.

The finished skirt turned out to be still too full for my taste. I tapered the side seams some more, and messed around with the front edges, which turned out to be a mistake. Instead of hanging straight from the waist, they angle in a little bit.  

Here's where I ended up.

As you can see, my belt is WAY to short. The fabric had a border print running down each edge that I had to remove, so I ran short, literally. The top part is great, perfect really, but I'm just not loving the skirt.  It's not a wadder by any means and I'll be wearing it, but the search for a better pattern will go on.  The DVF inspiration dress is straight, which I think  is more flattering but it doesn't have any bodice pleats, which is a feature I do love about Vogue 8379. I'll always take a little boost in the bust.

Hmmm.... What about this?

The Style Arc Kate dress. Straight-ish skirt with no waist- check. Bust pleats- check. Surely the collar and cuff pieces that I love from the Vogue pattern can be made to work with this one.

 I haven't tried any Style Arc patterns yet, but have read many glowing reviews about their fit. It might be time to finally place an order. If you have any experience or advice to share regarding Style Arc, I would love to hear it.