Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Fabric... Welcome to the Patriotic Quilter where I like to share all things quilty as well as red, white, and blue! Please feel free to look around and enjoy yourself! I would love to hear from you.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What's Been Keeping Me Busy

I love quilting!  Long before I quilted, I sewed clothes.  When my daughter was little, I don't know how many miles of thread I used to gather up the ruffles of dresses and pinafores for her.  I also had made my formals for my high school proms.  The one thing I didn't make were pants.  I tried once, but it was a disaster.  So, I may be a bit rusty, but I do know how to make most clothing. 

A  couple of weeks ago, I got a text from my sister (of the Terrain quilt fame.)  She asked if I had time to make my neice (Alex of Alex's quilt and also the recipient of my Bounce quilt) a figure skating performance costume.  Alex is a figure skater and has been performing for 3-4 years now.  (She is 7)  I made one of her first costumes a couple years ago, so I was amenable.  I asked when she needed it, and my sister said November 17!  Yikes!  I said I would go scouting for fabric and see what I could find and let her know.

I went to the fabric shop on a Saturday and scoured.  The pattern I had used before was a Butterick pattern, but I needed a larger size.  I went to get one, but it is no longer available!  Grrr.   Next I looked for fabric, and surprisingly, there was a reasonable selection of dance/swimsuit lycra, which is needed for the costume.  The body suit must stretch, but the skirt can be made of stretch or not, depending on the desired effect.  Alex was requesting navy blue or something that isn't "pink and purple which are for babies."  She is getting sophisticated with her color choices!  I found some gorgeous teal fabric and texted a photo to my sister.  "Alex's last costume was turquoise, could I find something else?"  Finally I found something with a few shades of blue and silver.  It was approved.  I got it and went home to mull over patterns.  There are some available on the internet, but time was a major factor.  Finally I checked the pattern books and found a leotard pattern in her size and thought maybe I could marry the two patterns together, using the leotard pattern for sizes and the skating costume for the design.

It seemed like it would work okay, so I bravely cut out the pattern(s) from the fabrics.  Then last Saturday, I began to sew.  I changed my needle to a ball point since I was using a knit.  The lycra is heavy, so I used my largest needle, an 80.  I sewed.  Nothing happened.  The needle fabric combination was not working and no stitches would form.  Remember when we got the informative lecture at guild?  I was fairly sure I needed a larger needle, so I went to my local Bernina dealer.  I checked out the needles and found a ballpoint size 90 and a stretch size 90.  They didn't have any larger sized needles for knit/stretch.  I asked, and the ladies said the stretch was just what I needed!

I got home, put the new needle in, and....    nothing happened.  It was like I suspected, it needed a larger size.  At that point, I started trying all the needles I had.  A regular 100 worked, so I used it.  I didn't see any snagging of the fabric on a swatch, so that was the needle I used.  Is there anything worse than sewing on lycra?  Maybe sewing on metallic?  Well, I stupidly chose a lycra laminated with metallic.  Ugh.  It went okay until I had to put in the zipper.  Yes, a zipper sewn into metallic-laminated lycra.  I had to switch to a 110 needle.  It wasn't pretty and I won't share some of the language I used!

Here it is under construction.  Yes, the neck edge and sleeve cuffs are trimmed with stretch sequins!  What was I thinking?!

Once I got to the point where I needed to work on the skirt,  I hemmed it and then trimmed it with sequins, too.  The fabric is a "chiffon" type and was not fun to hem!  I then began to pin it to the bodysuit and discovered that it was too small.  I could cut some off the top to make it fit, but then the skirt would be too short.  Ugh! Luckily I had plenty of fabric, so I cut out another skirt, longer this time.  I decided to cut two of them and instead of hemming, I would sew them right sides together and turn it right sides out, so I would have a lined skirt (which was good because it was sheer) and I didn't have to hem it.  I trimmed it with more sequins and then I realized that maybe the short one could go over the long one for a two-tiered skirt.  I texted a photo, and my sister liked it.

It is important to remember than my neice is 600 miles away, and not able to try anything on!

Here is the skirt pinned to my design wall.  Okay, so going between the silver lycra, attaching sequins, and hemming the blue chiffon, and attaching sequins, etc. I was constantly changing the thread, bobbin, and needle.  I used blue thread, white thread, clear thread, and silver metallic thread, and different bobbins, as well.  I used 3-4 different needles at different times as well.  Here is the table next to my machine.
What a mess!  Yesterday was the day to attach the skirt to the bodysuit.  I basted the two tiers of the skirt together and trimmed down the top edge so it would fit.  I took it to my bee and pinned it on and was planning to hand baste it, but it just fit, and I needed it to be larger so that I could stretch the bodysuit while sewing on the skirt, otherwise, the stitching would break when the suit was stretched to put on.  So, I took it back home, cut the opening larger still, and finally it fit, so I hand-basted and then used the machine.  Finally it was in one piece!  All I had to do was to make the matching scrunchie and, oh yes, attach the jewels. 

I think if you've been reading my blog for a while, you may remember that I'm a very symmetrical-type person.  I like things orderly and even.  Regimented, in fact.  That is my comfort zone.  Well, this costume needed something assymetrical.  Flowing.  Lyrical.  So out of my comfort zone!  I laid everything out, sorted the jewels by size (so at least something was "regimented,") put on some music, and just started playing around with arrangements.  At first it wasn't easy, but eventually I was satisfied with the design.

Next I had to be brave and start gluing them on!  I was so afraid that I would make a mistake and ruin the whole thing, but I was really careful and got it done.  I'm pleased with the result!

Tomorrow when I'm sure that the jewels are dry, I'll send it off and then please join me in crossing my fingers that it fits!  If it does, I will try to remember to share a picture of her wearing it.
Now maybe I can get back to quilting.  I really want to finish my chocolate cherry quilt from the class I took, make more stars for our bed quilt, start this month's Schnibble, and oh yeah!  Bounce and Hubble arrived back from the quilter!  I can begin binding them!
Thanks for reading about my big project.  It was very challenging, but again, if you have been following my blog for a while, you may remember that I can get stubborn about not letting a project best me!


  1. Wow, it looks fantastic! Reminds me of my dress for swing choir that my Mom put lots of sequins on. She didn't have a pattern, just went to it!

  2. What a sewing journey you have been on! In the end, it came out so pretty! I hope, hope, hope that it fits her. Thankfully, the stretch fabric is very forgiving.

  3. That little outfit is wonderful! Your niece is going to squeal with delight when she sees it! Well done, JoAnne!

    Personally, I could NEVER have tackled it.....and I used to sew my own clothes, too! But to do any kind of garment sewing now, just seems so foreign to me! A 5/8's seam???? What's that!??? lol

  4. you're the best aunt in the world.

  5. Sorry, I'm not hosting a swap. There's plenty out in blogland you will be able to join though.
    BH x

  6. I looks terrific!! I give a perfect 10!!