Ask Angela …: There are countless women like me who must have the same question to ask, so I’ll make an attempt to speak for the group. After reaching those golden years, we start to wonder why our clothes — especially shirts and blouses — seem to have lost all sense of shape. We might just as well be wearing ponchos because our collective shoulders have gradually disappeared over the years. How about a hint on making conservative shoulder pads . . . not like the 80’s kind and not just for jackets/coats and blazers. I would like something that can be used with casual or dress shirts and blouses, so it should not be too bulky.
Sarah from Ohio
Sure hope you can address this problem — I’ve seen you on It’s Sew Easy many times and feel that if anybody can solve this issue, it is Angela.
P.S. My next project will be creating a bra with suspenders to keep it in place. Any ideas?
This was a great question from Sarah, and although I’m not going to talk about making your own shoulder pads, I am going to give you a few tips that have worked for other clients of mine in the past.
All of us have different body shapes, meaning I might not need the same thickness of shoulder pad as you or maybe I don’t need extra padding at all. With that being said, there are just as many sizes and styles of shoulder pads.
Do you remember the shoulder pads of the 80s – they were very, very, VERY LARGE! In fact, I’m pretty sure the shoulders of the jackets extended at least 2 inches past the actual edge of any female’s shoulder. I always laugh at some of the old photos where I am wearing enormously huge shoulder pads – my head looks SO small! 🙂
Take a look at these two shoulder pads. Both are considered a raglan shoulder pad, meaning that part of the shoulder pad will be directly on your shoulder and a small part of the shoulder pad will extend past your shoulder to fill in the sleeve cap. These are typically used for jackets, but the smaller one will work in tops as well.
This shoulder pad is very thin and a perfect option for blouses and tops. It gives that soft edge to your shoulder and evens out your profile, without standing out that you are wearing shoulder pads..
It can get rather expensive to add shoulder pads to every top that you own, not to mention shoulder pads turn out disastrously after being washed. So why not design your own removable shoulder pads!
You will need:
1” wide Hook & Loop tape; which comes in a variety of colors including beige, black, foliage green, olive drab, and white
Shoulder pad options I would consider:
Hand Sewing Needle and Thread
CHOOSING A SHOULDER PAD
Shoulder pads are listed by thickness and length. The thickness is the height of the shoulder pad, so if you are looking for the bare minimal to even out the shoulder area – start with the ¼” thick shoulder pad. For unlined jackets and sweaters consider using the raglan shoulder pads (which is what I will be using here). For knit tops and blouses, choose a flatter shoulder pad that won’t extend into the sleeve cap but the straight edge will line up with the edge of your shoulder.
PREPARE HOOK AND LOOP TAPE
Take a close look at the hook and loop tape. There is a softer side (which will be attached to your garments) usually referred to as the loop side. Then, there is the hook side that is (more…)
All About Buttons!
Embellishing is one of my favorite things to do, in fact sometimes I even add touches to ready-to-wear garments. One of the easiest ways to restyle is to change the buttons. Even better, your own custom covered buttons! From simple to couture, this is what I will cover in the next series of blogs.
First, lets start with the basics on how to cover a button. The base of the button looks just like the ones above and they come in many sizes. There at two kinds available, I prefer the ones with what I call “teeth”, like this one from WAWAK.
Each button has 2 parts: a top that you will wrap your fabric around and a base that snaps onto the back, securing the fabric.
Let’s get started!
- Cut out a circle from your fashion fabric, just little bit bigger than the button.
Note: the circle above is too large for that button, it should look more like the photo below
2. Wrap the fabric around the curve of the button top, securing edges of fabric in the teeth. If the fabric is plaid or striped, take care in placing the button and check the alignment of the shank to make sure its the same on every button.
3. Continue all the way around until the fabric is tight and secure.
See why I prefer the teeth, so much easier to tighten the fabric!
4. Place the backing on and snap into place with needle nose pliers. Snap all the way around the button to make sure the back is tightly closed.
Trouble Shooting: If you can’t snap the back of the button in place, you might have too much fabric inside. This means the circle of fabric was too large, but you can still trim out the excess fabric to make it work.
That’s it! Super easy and trend with a touch of couture 🙂
I have quite a few more buttons to go, but this jacket has been cut and sitting in my “to do” bin for over a year! Hand-dyed silk charmeuse lining and all, I must finish this before spring!
One more thing about covering buttons: A little trick that I do to make my buttons look more professional is to add a touch of cotton. You can use cotton balls, make-up remover cotton, batting, even a thin piece of polar fleece.
Center the cotton on the button, then wrap the fabric over the cotton. Now when you secure the fabric tightly you won’t see any metal through the fabric and it softens the look. Now when I want to add beading to the button I can actually get my needle through the fabric. If you have a hard time keeping the cotton in place, use a tab of super glue, just let the glue dry before covering with fabric.
Buying Covered Buttons:
There are so many covered buttons to choose from it can get a little overwhelming, so I have included links to the ones that I use from WAWAK Sewing:
These are all 12 packs, but trust me you will go through them. These buttons have a curved top, they also carry a flat top.
Next time I will show how I made these custom buttons:
Hope you had a great week! Off to work on samples for It’s Sew Easy TV taping next week.
First off, I want to wish you a Happy New Year and I hope you are off to a great start in 2015! So far so good on this end J
I started the year with a mini-vacation up north. Although, the snow didn’t arrive until after the mini-vacation, which resulted in another mini-vacation at home, not all bad J
yes, I took this fuzzy photo and it’s on the new years list to get better
I am not big into New Year’s resolutions, as I would hate to set myself up for failure – that being said I still have a very long list, as I do every year: work out, eat healthier, go to bed early and get up early, take more time for friends and family, get organized, get rid of clutter, and on and on …… I have to ask, why not just take time each month and re-evaluate life – wouldn’t it be so much easier to try changing and improving on things one month at a time versus an entire year? What a novel thought, that ultimately has become my New Year’s Resolution!
Resolutions #1: Get in Better Shape
To start, I bought Jillian Michaels ripped in 30 workout DVD and a slew of new workout clothes. You can’t work out properly without the proper clothing, right? (even if I am working out in my own living room … and yes, I bought them as I didn’t have time to sew them)
Day 1: REALLY?!? Have any of you tried this workout?!? I really thought I was in pretty good shape – she had no problem proving that different! First day, thought I would die in the middle (remember this only 30 minutes – longest 30 minutes of my life!)
Day 7: Let’s just say, this is going to be re-evaluated at the end of the month – as I am SO out of shape! And thank heaven’s I can do this in my own house and no one is taping me!!!! Oh – and by the way – I will not be offering before and after photos! J
Resolution #2: Learn How to Cook
As many of you already know, cooking is not my forte. I am not ashamed of that, as those of you that have read my book already know, for the first years out of college – my custom apparel business was my main focus and the kitchen cabinets were only to be used for fabric storage – they made excellent storage if I might add. My last cooking attempt was 7 years ago, 3 days of it and it was catastrophic, so let’s give it a go in 2015. What the heck, don’t they call it the 7 year itch J
First, let me just say, I have the best husband ever! Winn, loves to cook and he is really good at it, so I am a bit spoiled. In order to not starve the man the death, I will attempt cooking while he is away:
1st Recipe: Cooking Light Magazine – Parmesan and Pine Nut – Crusted Oven-Fried Chicken (Winn’s up north ice fishing, perfect opportunity!)
Take 1: Spent 2 hours in the grocery store trying to find all the ingredients, got home and was way too tired to attempt.
Result: Dinner served is cottage cheese and triscuits.
Take 2: Ready to go … everything went well until the “sauté the chicken for 3 minutes” and mine turned black instantly!
I will just give you a hint, Tyler (the cat) is more like a dog and love’s people food. Last weekend, my husbands chicken dish:
My dish? He snubbed, in the kindest way:
In fact, if it wasn’t for Ranch dressing (which makes anything taste good) Tyler’s dinner was even looking a bit enticing.
Cooking is just like Sewing!
This is when I realized cooking is so much like sewing! When I teach a class, I assume you know how to do certain things, just like these recipes:
- 2 TBSP Pine nuts, toasted (for us beginners, how do you toast these – in the toaster LOL J )
- Sauté for 3 minutes or until brown – well, mine turned black so fast, there wasn’t a brown option! (Maybe the author had a better quality pan?)
- Cook for 10 minutes or until chicken is done: what if my oven is hotter than yours? What if I use convection cook?
As I am pulling a blackened chicken breast out of the oven, two things occurred to me. Sewer’s have this same problem. For example: interfacing – What is it? What kind? Where do I put it? How do I press it in place?
I can just picture a new sewer in Joann fabrics staring at the rack of interfacing, as I am in the grocery store staring at the spice rack – totally lost!
And then the comparison of sewing machines and sergers to stoves and ovens. They are all different. I read the recipe and followed by the book, but maybe the person writing it has a gas stove, did they bake with a convection oven, or were they using a different pan?
After botching my dinner, I sat down to answer my online class questions and had to laugh when I got to one of my serging class questions: my gathering foot doesn’t gather like you showed. WOW! This is exactly what I am experiencing with cooking! My serger is different and all serger’s don’t offer the same stitch quality or feet accessories. See where I am going? There are so many factors to creative learning.
To improve my cooking, I have enrolled in Brendan McDermott’s Essential Cooking Techniques Class. I will let you know how it goes – no pressure Brendan, LOL!
And to help my fellow beginner sewers, I have fun plans for you this year! I can’t tell you them all yet, but my blog will feature a “Back to the Basics” section to help you learn the basics of sewing as I am learning to cook! Let’s learn together J For my advanced sewing fans, don’t worry, I have a lot in store for you too!
How can I ever thank you all for participating in my wardrobe challenge of 2014, the response in email, flickr, and pinterest was phenomenal. My wardrobe challenge started with the idea to inspire you to fill your closet with clothes sewn by you! The best part was getting sponsors to offer great gifts to inspire you even further: Brother, WAWAK sewing, Threads and SewStylish Magazines, Coats & Clark, It’s Sew Easy Tv, and myself. As you know, I extended the deadlines into 2015 for many reasons and look forward to awarding the final winners. This contest was an inspiration of mine to get you all to fill your closets with your own sewn clothes! I will be announcing a slew of past winners this week and giving you the last challenge for the grand prize, don’t worry the last challenge is the easiest J
Happy New Year! Can you share some of your resolutions for 2015? I would love to hear J
And, any tips on cleaning this pan?!?
Leather is a major trend this season and continues on into the spring, yes leather for spring and summer! Here are a few tips to get you started:
TIP 1. FABRIC
Check the fabric for flaws, especially in faux leather you might find scratches or cuts that you will need to work around when cutting out the pattern pieces.
Consider the weight and feel of the fabric for the design. For example a biker jacket will need a thicker fabric than say a peplum style jacket. Also, squeeze the fabric in your hand and if it has deep creases or wrinkles, that is how it will look after wearing it (better to know now :))
TIP 2. NEEDLES
Use a Leather Needle in the sewing machine. Start with a size 12 or 14 for light to medium weight fabric.
Go up to a 16 or 18 for heavier fabric, but be sure to CHECK your sewing machine as to what is the largest size needle it will accommodate. One of my older machines will only allow up to a size 14.
For sewing faux leather I prefer using a Jean Needle size 14. If you are having a problem with skipped stitches try this needle.
When it comes to hand-stitching, standard needles have a difficult time piercing the fabric. Instead use a Leather Hand Needle, this needle has a triangular point that pierces the fabric. Just be careful, the tip is REALLY sharp!
TIP 3: NO PINS
Just as difficult as it is to pierce leather / faux leather, once you do pierce the fabric the hole is there forever! Use clips to hold the fabric instead of pins. They are lightweight and don’t damage the fabric.
I got these getta grip sewing clips from my friend Paul Gallo. I met Paul at Craftsy while we were both shooting classes. He showed me these clips that he designed and I have been a fan ever since. Awesome guy! Have you ever met Paul or taken any of his classes?
FASHION DRAPING: DRESSMAKING BASICS with PAUL GALLO ON CRAFTSY!
FASHION DRAPING: BIAS DESIGN with PAUL GALLO ONLINE CLASS ON CRAFTSY!
TIP 4: TAPING SEAM ALLOWANCES
When sewing garments, pressing the seam allowances open with a Tailor’s Clapper is the best option. Unfortunately with leather, faux leather, vinyl, and suede, even if you safely press the fabric with an iron shoe, the seam allowance will not stay open. The best solution for securing seam allowances and hemming is either topstitching or leather tape (a special double-sided tape).
This is how easy it works:
1. Place a strip of LEATHER TAPE in the seam allowance with the sticky side down.
2. Remove paper backing, revealing the other side of the tape.
3. Fold back the seam allowance or hem allowance.
I use the 1/4″ wide tape for seam allowances and 1/2″ wide tape for hems. I purchase the tape from WAWAK SEWING and the rolls come 60 yards. Don’t be caught off guard by the quantity because you will use more than you think and the price is incredible! Well, this should get you started – next in line is quilting and embroidering faux leather.
With October’s Wardrobe Challenge including zippers, I thought now would be a good time to share a few easy ways to embellish with exposed zippers.
A fun way to change the look of a pair of jeans is to embellish the leg with an exposed zipper. Follow along:
Step 1: On the wrong side of the fabric, mark the center of the pant leg (could be front or back, wherever you want the zipper).
If marking an existing pair of jeans, rip out the hem at least 5″ from each side of new mark. Press the fusible interfacing along the newly marked center line.
Step 2: Mark the hem, hem allowance, and the length of the zipper opening down center of the pant leg.
Step 3: Determine the width of the zipper opening (depends on the width of the zipper teeth). Draw in opening, top edge, and then add a triangle from the center cut line to each corner (as shown above).
Step 4: Cut along center marking. Cut each triangle point (if you are worried about the fabric fraying, add Fray Check to the top corners)
Step 5: Press the seam allowances back and press triangle tip up.
Step 6: Line up the zipper with the metal teeth in the center of the opening. Check the placement of the zipper stop and zipper tab.
Step 7: Fold back the zipper tape and press in place at the hemline.
Step 8: Pin zipper in place.
Step 9: In this example, I am using standard polyester thread, cotton or silk thread would work too. Set the sewing machine to a triple stitch and lengthen the stitch length to 4.0. (Note: if you don’t have this feature, use denim thread, straight stitch, stitch length 4.0)
Step 10: Stitch along the edge of the zipper. Open and close the zipper as needed in order to get the foot by the zipper tab. Step 11: Notice how I have lined up the edge of the zipper foot with the metal teeth, a very easy to get a straight stitch … or this would be a great time to utilize the laser vision guide feature on your machine! 🙂
Step 12: Press up the hem with the tailor’s clapper for a crisp crease. By the way, did I mention WAWAK Sewing is now carrying my tailor’s clapper! Yeah!
Step 13: Hem the jeans and move onto the other leg.
That’s it! Now this is just one quick, easy way to install a hidden zipper. I will give you some more ideas next time.