Blue Ridge Dress Pattern Swap

Have you seen the new Blue Ridge Dress pattern by Hello Holli? It’s a sweet girl’s dress; feminine with modern details. While I was making the Blue Ridge Dress this week, Holli was busy sewing up one of my Retro Rucksacks. Be sure to look at her blog to see the finished bag!

Blue Ridge Dress Pattern Swap | Radiant Home Studio

pattern swap radiant home studio-01

Holli has been involved in the sewing blog community for a few years, but this is her first pattern. You might remember the gold trimmed prefontaine shorts she made for Pattern Parcel last year. (and I think that’s how we connected…) Holli’s Blue Ridge Dress has a beautiful and unique style, the photos are gorgeous, and the instructions and patterns pieces are equally impressive! The printable pieces are easy to assemble and all of the diagrams are professionally illustrated.

Blue Ridge Dress Pattern Swap | Radiant Home Studio

I chose a lightweight linen for the skirt and used quilting cotton for the top. The blue print was a fat quarter I’ve had on my shelf for a while. I’ve been saving it for the right project, and I think it’s the perfect shade of blue for a little blue-eyed girl. I love the single button on the back and the pretty gathers around the waist. My daughter usually wears a size 5, but she is slim. Based on her measurements, I cut a size 4 in the bodice and cut the skirt length at size 5. It fits perfectly.

I didn’t make any alterations to the pattern or construction. Holli gives the option to hand finish or machine finish the binding. I took the time to hand finish the binding and I am very happy with how it turned out. It takes a few extra minutes, but I think it makes a difference (especially when the machine stitching is quite as straight as you would like sometimes…). I also stitched the hem by hand. The bodice is fully lined, with all of the raw edges neatly sewn into the seams, making the inside as pretty as the outside.

Blue Ridge Dress Pattern Swap | Radiant Home Studio

My daughter loves the dress and is excited to wear it. She has asked me everyday if she can take it out of my room and go hang it in her closet. The dress is a win for both of us and I can highly recommend the pattern!

If you are interested in the pattern, Holli shared that she has a 20% off coupon code (BLUERIDGERLD20) that can be used in her etsy shop until 9/4.

And don’t forget to check out Holli’s Retro Rucksack!

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Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial

(it’s probably not the method you have been using!)

Do we really need another zipper pocket tutorial in the sewing blog world? A quick google search yields dozens of helpful results. So why am I adding my own version? Because most of the zipper pocket tutorials at the top of the search results are missing some steps!

Maybe the common methods people are using are meant to be easier, but I think that adding a couple of steps and a few minutes of time to get a professional looking zipper pocket is worth the extra bit of time and effort.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

The most common zipper pocket method I see is like Deby’s method at So Sew Easy. She uses the actual interior pocket piece to make a facing for the opening. This creates a clean edge around the zipper opening, but it also leaves the zipper tape exposed on the inside of the pocket. (See below.) I’ve seen plenty of store-bought items with zippers installed this way, so it isn’t necessarily wrong. But you want a truly professional zipper pocket, you can hide that zipper tape with just a couple of extra steps.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

The other zipper pocket method I see is like this one at Emmaline Bags. This method hides the zipper tape, but it’s is hard to get a nice clean edge around the opening. I usually end up with fraying fabric in the corners, which is not very pretty. The finished pocket is also less stable than a pocket with a facing.

This zipper pocket tutorial method combines these two techniques to create a clean and professional zipper pocket with no exposed zipper tape and added stability.

How-to Sew a Professional Zipper Pocket:

Materials:

• a bag lining or other project that needs a zipper pocket
• a zipper (I’m using a 9″ zipper for the example)
• a scrap of medium weight fusible interfacing
• 1/4 yd. pocket fabric (use a pattern piece or cut a rectangle 2″ wider than the zipper and twice as long as you want the pocket depth)
• a zipper foot

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial:

1. You’ll need your bag lining (or other project), a pocket piece, and a facing piece. Cut a rectangle from your fabric that is 2″ longer than your zipper and 2″ wide. (Mine is 11″ x 2″.) This is the pocket facing. Cut the same rectangle from interfacing and fuse it to the pocket facing piece.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio zipper pocket tutorial-20

2. On the wrong side of the facing (on the interfacing), draw a line the length of your zipper teeth across the center.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Draw two more lines, 1/4″ above and below the first line. Connect the ends to make a rectangle, and draw diagonal lines from the corner to the middle line.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

3. Place the pocket facing right sides together with the bag lining, centered over the place you want the zipper.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Sew around the outer rectangle, using shorter stitches on the ends.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

4. Cut along the center line and into the corners at the diagonal lines.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Push the facing through the hole and press flat.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Below is the wrong side of the lining.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

5. Align the opening over the zipper. Using your zipper foot, stitch around the edges of the opening. If you find that the zipper is slipping, you can try using fusible tape to keep it in place or a couple pieces of gift wrapping tape (which you can sew through and easily remove).

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

6. Align the wrong side of the upper zipper edge with the right side of the pocket piece. Fold the top of the bag lining out of the way. Stitch the upper edge of the zipper to one end of the pocket piece as close to the seam as possible. Make sure you are only sewing through the pocket piece, the zipper tape, and the facing piece.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

7. Take the other end of the pocket piece and align it with the bottom edge of the zipper. Fold the bottom of the bag lining out of the way, and stitch the pocket piece to the zipper as close to the seam as possible.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish, it should look like this.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

8. Press the pocket piece toward the bottom of the bag. Fold the sides of the bag lining out of the way. Stitch along the side of the pocket, from the top to the fold, catching the ends of the zipper tape in the stitching. Repeat for the other side. Trim the excess pocket fabric if needed.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

That’s it! See How nice the inside looks! You can use this zipper pocket method in place of the common methods included in your sewing patterns. I regularly toss aside zipper directions and install zippers using this process.

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

 

Professional Zipper Pocket Tutorial | Radiant Home Studio

I’m currently updating the Retro Rucksack pattern to include this type of zipper installation (and adding some other helpful tips!). If you have the original version of the pattern, you can use this tutorial to replace the interior zipper pocket directions included in the pattern.

I’m linking up this tutorial with Sew Can She, Craftastic Monday, Sew + Show, and Skip to My Lou!

What do you think of this method for sewing zipper pockets? Will you try it next time?

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Southport Dress

I’ve been admiring the Southport Dress by True Bias since it was released a few months ago. I really love the maxi version of the dress that Teresa made. I had the opportunity to test the Mini Southport Dress recently and was really happy with the finished dress. Kelli produces high-quality, modern sewing patterns.

Tribal Southport Dress | Radiant Home Studio

I chose an inexpensive rayon challis fabric for this version. I thought I might have to make some fit adjustments and decided this would be more of a wearable muslin. The pattern is drafted for a C cup at the bust, so I expected extra room in the top. The top is meant to have a loose fit and most of the extra fabric can be drawn into the waist using the drawstring. The bigger problem for me is that the neckline is gaping and the shoulders are a bit too wide.

Tribal Southport Dress | Radiant Home Studio

Almost every pattern I use needs to be altered to account for my narrow shoulders. For this pattern, I decided to cut a 2 in the shoulders and armholes, tapering out to a 4 in the waist and hips. (For reference, my measurements are 33-29-38, and shoulders about 15″ across.) That definitely helped the upper bodice fit, but I don’t think it was enough. When I make this dress again, I will remove about an inch from the back neck and triangle wedges from the neckline down to the bust. I think making those changes will be the best places to remove extra material for me.

Tribal Southport Dress | Radiant Home Studio

Overall, the pattern wasn’t too difficult to follow. If you have sewn any of Kelli’s other patterns, you’ll notice that she uses many of the same techniques for bindings and button plackets, which makes it easier to put together. I was hesitant to print this pattern at home, since the long skirt requires printing lots of pages. But I was anxious to get started and didn’t want to wait for the copy shop. I was happy that Kelli included a printing chart to reduce the number of excess pages to print. There was very little waste in the end and the pattern went together quickly, even with the many pages that had to be pieced together.

Patterned rayon fabric definitely made some of the layout and cutting more challenging. Since the fabric design reads as stripes, I had to carefully plan my cutting layout so that I could match the front seam in the skirt and the side skirt seams. I did the same with the top, though I still seem to have the stripe slightly off grain. (Only other sewists will notice, right?) If I were to cut it again, I would cut the pieces in single layers instead of folding the fabric. That would have allowed me to see that the bottom layer wasn’t quite lined up.

Tribal Southport Dress | Radiant Home Studio

Though the fit isn’t perfect, the dress is totally wearable with a tank layered underneath. And as the weather transitions, I think it will look great with a cardigan. I’ve noticed a trend towards capsule wardrobes (check out Free Notion to see a great example!), and I think a solid colored Southport Dress would be perfect as a capsule wardrobe staple item.

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Minted Photo Challenge Win

Sewing is my primary creative outlet, but I also love to experiment with photography, surface design, printmaking, and other art. I recently entered some of my art and photography in the art challenges at Minted. If you aren’t familiar with Minted, it’s a company that sells art prints, stationery items, and home goods by independent artists and designers. All art is voted on by customers and designers, and Minted sells the best ones. Artists then earn a percentage of the sales.

Last month, my photo titled “Curious Calf”, was chosen as one of the editor’s picks. I love the sunlight in this picture and I’m thrilled that it was voted among the winners!

Minted Photo Challenge Winners | Radiant Home Studio

I’ve been very impressed with the quality of the items I’ve seen from Minted. Their paper goods are truly the best I’ve seen. When I get start getting Christmas cards in the mail, I can always spot the Minted cards immediately because the cardstock is so nice. I also ordered a framed art print a couple of weeks ago and I can’t wait to get it up on the wall. They run sales and share coupons often, which they will let you know about in their newsletter if you sign up.

I currently have one photo art print for sale through Minted and several submissions in current challenges. I’ve created an collage featuring modern farmhouse prints, so that you can see how my photo would fit in a gallery wall.

If you are interested in my work at Minted, I would so appreciate it if you used my affiliate link to check out my photo and the other artwork!

Sara Curtis at Minted | Radiant Home Studio

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Patchwork Potholder Set

A couple of months ago, I made the Hot Mitt House potholder from Betz White’s new book called Present Perfect. I love the welcoming shape of the little house. It would make a lovely housewarming gift for a friend or a fun addition to your own kitchen. Plus, it is a creative way to use scraps of your favorite prints!

Patchwork House Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

In the book, Betz pairs the house potholder with a coordinating tea towel. With 6 messy kiddos, white tea towels don’t stay white very long in my house! My current potholders are faded and worn, so I took the opportunity to make a matching patchwork potholder in pretty colors to brighten up my kitchen.

I have a couple of handmade potholders from a few years ago. One of the things I noticed after using them is that the binding is somewhat melted in places. That is because the premade binding I used is part cotton and part polyester. The polyester doesn’t withstand high heat very well and can melt (just like when you use an overly hot iron). If you can find 100% cotton binding, you’ll want to use that. If not, you can make your own bias binding like I did. Though it’s a few minutes of extra work, making your own bias binding for your potholders will add more binding options and allow you to create a potholder that matches your unique style.

Patchwork Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

The Hot Mitt House potholder was really fun to make and the directions are easy to follow. I used linen for the base, and some bright colored scraps to add some color to my very white kitchen. Now I’m not sure I want to use it and get it all dirty!

To make the extra potholder, I just cut some slightly off rectangle strips of fabric and stitched them together improvisationally (spell-check says that’s not a word…). I’m the kind of person that cooks without recipes and never really makes the same thing twice. I think that’s why I love improvisational piecing. No recipe. You can’t really mess it up.

Patchwork Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

After I had a large enough patchwork piece, I cut out a 9″ square and rounded the corners. I cut out a matching back piece and layered 2 sheets of insulated interfacing. The potholders I made a few years ago only had one layer, but seemed like they could be a little bit more substantial. I did some straight line quilting across the square and then attached the binding. In the Hot Mitt House directions, Betz has a nice method for creating the loop which I used for the extra potholder as well.

Patchwork House Potholder | Radiant Home Studio

Have you made any projects from Present Perfect yet? 

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