Sewing and lifestyle blog of a wannabe "full-time vixen"

Tag Archives: uneven slipstitch

Spiffy Elbow Patch Mending Project

My friend Victor asked me a while ago if I could help him mend one of his shirts. He had worn out the elbows in this blue casual button up shirt and was wondering if I could put elbow patches on them.

He had tried sewing the holes shut himself but as you can see, he does not quite have the skill to give it that professional finish. He told me he’d just been wearing the sleeves rolled up anyways so no one saw his “handiwork”.

So I undid his handiwork and surveyed the real damage.

I had to think for a while how I was going to go about this process. I came across this blog post: http://ohsnail.blogspot.ca/2012/02/how-to-make-elbow-patches.html

It was very informative and was the tutorial I liked the most. You see, I was wracking my brain trying to figure out how to finish the edges of the elbow patches. Use a turned under hem all around? I had a feeling it wouldn’t be as clean a finish on the oval shaped template I was using. For a square, rectangle, or more angular patch shape, that might be just fine.

The tutorial I found is ingenious though – make the patch out of two layers of fabric and sew them right sides together. Then leave a gap so you can flip it inside out after pinking the edges and iron that sucker down so it’s perfectly flat and oval. Then hand stitch the open gap.

I then hand stitched the oval elbow pads to the shirt with my trusty uneven slipstitch. I couldn’t use my sewing machine because the sleeves are much too narrow to jam into it. Plus the hand-sewing looks just lovely. I also used a whipstitch on the inside to sew the hole down to the patch. You can’t see it on the outside because I took care not to pierce the upper layer of the patch. I preferred the slipstitch to the blanket stitch for a more modern look. So many of the patching tutorials I came across recommended the blanket stitch. The blanket stitch is a little too rustic or crafty looking for my friend’s sense of style.

Now I know I keep mentioning this slipstitch of mine and for those not in the know, you may be wondering what it is. I scanned my Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing (I have a pristine copy of the older edition from the 70s, it’s amazing!) and provided the section on slipstitching below. If you click on the image, you can see the full size scan.

I learned how to do this hand stitch back in high school. It is one of my most used hand stitches because if you do it right, you will have a truly invisible and sturdy seam. I often use it to join the inside of the waistband or a facing to the interior of a garment for an invisible finish and prefer this to stitching in the ditch whenever possible. I prefer hand stitching for finishing off my garments to give it the nicest interior I can. Hand stitching is also such a soothing task and I’ll often sit and listen to Ted Talks or documentaries for a quiet moment to myself.

Presenting…The Tulip Dress!

So I know I have been teasing you all with hints of the dress I’ve been working on for the last few weeks. I finished it last week and then my friend Victor Ngo helped me take some photos. Here is the dress!

Now the reason I call it the “Tulip Dress” is because I was inspired by the shapes of the petals on the tulip flower. My dress is a bit of an upside-down tulip really. As you will see from the photos below, I also wanted to experiment a bit with colour blocking. The back is in pink to give it a visual contrast with the red. I used cotton voile in red and pink, underlining with white because voile is a sheer fabric. I sewed two trims on the edges of the red layers — a pink lace from Dressew layered on top of eyelet trim that I dyed myself.

I didn’t make any pattern changes but while sewing the dress I realized the armholes were too tight and had to trim away 1/4 of an inch all around. I have realized now that I have narrow shoulders and should be making the adjustment on all patterns from here on out. I took in one cm in total at the back seam, I might take in a bit more next time. I also should have done a small bust adjustment but it’s not too problematic on this dress which has a loose fit anyways. I do intend to use this pattern again, it’s a great “blank slate” for all sorts of designs!

A cute outtake!

Here are a couple of interior shots. I used bias trim to finish the neckline and armholes. I hand sewed the bias trim and hem with an uneven slipstitch for an invisible finish. I adore uneven slipstitch (because I adore invisible finishes!) and use it wherever I can.

This project is also my submission to the Colette Patterns Laurel Contest. The sewing pattern I used is from the company Colette Patterns and the pattern name is “Laurel”. The only contest requirement was to use this pattern, which is a simple and versatile shift pattern. We were allowed to modify the pattern and envision our own version of the dress however we saw fit. There is a Flickr group for the company and you are free to peruse all the other entries!

I have no idea if I will even win any of the runner up prizes. The prizes are various gift certificates to various sewing related companies or gift certificates to Colette Patterns. But I don’t care! The goal was never to win a prize but to challenge myself and also to pull myself out of the low energy funk I’ve been in for several months. The goal was to complete a sewing project. I have achieved all these goals so I feel quite proud of myself. I also made a new online friend!

Her name is Gema and she’s from London, here’s a link to her blog. She saw my dress in the Flickr group and featured it in her blog. This is what she wrote about me and my dress:

I think this Laurel creation shows real imagination; Caroline shows a unique approach to taking a simple shift, and making the lines run in an entirely different way. It’s almost like her playful design is saying ‘Look at my face! I’m just as adorable as my clothes!’; really cute and playful :) AND she dyed the trim herself. *extra Brownie points*

Caroline’s website made me think she’s probably many men’s ideal woman; she works in a library by day, also as a scientist in a CSI looky-likey lab, makes gorgeous clothing in her spare time, and her website’s called¬†http://fulltimevixen.blogspot.ca/. Enough said!

Haha! You have no idea how much I blushed from reading that. Sufficed it to say, I had a fun time working on this project and now I have an adorable dress to prance around in. Win-win!

[Outfit details: Shoes are Chelsea Crew from Ruche and tights are from American Apparel.]

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