Pattern Review, Sewing

Floral Gallery Tunic With Hand Stitched Details

If you have been following me on Instagram, you’ve seen a couple of posts about my participation in the Liesl & Co Gallery Tunic sew-along. I’m one of the 5 panelists judging the sew-along entries and helping to choose a winner! You can find the intro post and my plans for the pattern over at the Oliver & S blog.

Here’s my finished Floral Gallery Tunic with some hand stitched details and lace embellishment…

Liesl & Co Floral Gallery Tunic with Hand Stitched Details | Radiant Home Studio

The pattern includes a ton of options. You can choose tunic or dress length, traditional collar or band collar, and several sleeve options. I decided to make a tunic (more practical than a dress for me) with the traditional collar, and 3/4 length sleeves with a simple rolled cuff. I used a a lightweight voile, which has the perfect drape for a blouse like this.

The fabric (designed by Maureen Cracknell for Art Gallery Fabrics) has a little bit of a bohemian feel, so I had planned to incorporate some small embellishments to complement the style. I pulled out some lace and embroidery floss that worked with the fabric and kept them them nearby for inspiration. Small embellishments are like these are what take a garment to the next level.

Think about Anthropologie… What makes them so popular? I think the artistic and feminine details on their clothes are what make them unique. I browsed through their blouses a few times while I was sewing my tunic, scouting for little details and gathering inspiration. While I didn’t copy any particular blouse, I kept the details in mind. In the end, I have a blouse I love that looks as if it came from a boutique store.

Sometimes with the details, less is more. This fabric is already pretty busy, so I didn’t want to compete with the florals. I added a few rows of running stitches on the top placket. I tried a couple of the brighter colors, but they were too much. The earthy olive green color worked better—just enough to draw the eye, but not so much that it took the attention off the beautiful print. All of the stitching is tucked neatly between the placket and the placket facing.

Liesl & Co Floral Gallery Tunic with Hand Stitched Details | Radiant Home Studio

On the sleeve cuffs I added a small scrap of lace. I considered making a little fabric strap decorating with the lace that wrapped around the cuff and buttoned above it, but this looked just as nice and didn’t take as much time and planning. I used some of the same olive embroidery floss to stitch it down on one side. Again, tiny details are enough. If I had put lace around the whole cuff, I think it would have been way too much.

Liesl & Co Floral Gallery Tunic with Hand Stitched Details | Radiant Home Studio

Let’s talk about the fit. My bust measured between a 2 and 4 and my hips between a 4 and a 6. Because this is a loose fitting garment, and I generally have to narrow the shoulders, I ended up cutting a 2 in the top and sleeves, grading out to a 4 in the hips. I think this worked perfectly. I wouldn’t make any other size or fit adjustments next time. I don’t feel like I’m drowning in fabric (which sometimes happens with loose tops) and I can still move my arms freely.

One other detail that I should mention…floral patterns like this require careful placement of the front pattern piece. I took extra care to make sure that there were no flowers directly on the apex of the bust. You definitely don’t want to inadvertently draw attention there!

Liesl & Co Floral Gallery Tunic with Hand Stitched Details | Radiant Home Studio

Overall, the pattern was pretty straightforward. The placket might be a bit confusing if it’s the first time you’ve sewn a placket, but if you do each step line-by-line it’s pretty clear and simple. If the illustrations seem unclear, you can also check out the step-by-step photos in the sew-along. The collar was much less complicated than I expected because it’s all one piece. I also love Liesl’s tips for sewing a nice even hem.

Liesl & Co Floral Gallery Tunic with Hand Stitched Details | Radiant Home Studio

The Gallery Tunic is such a versatile pattern that I had a hard time narrowing down my ideas. I’d love to make a plain lightweight linen version. It would be a great basic addition to my wardrobe.

There’s still time to enter your finished Galley Tunics in the sew-along contest at the Oliver + S blog. I’ll be helping to choose a winner. I’m looking forward to seeing the creative variations everyone sews up!

Pattern Review, Sewing

Birkin Flares Review

I had this idea that jeans are the hardest type of garment to sew. What about you? It seems so impressive somehow. We say things like, “She even makes her own jeans!!” as if it’s the pinnacle of sewing achievement. After making the Baste & Gather Birkin Flares, I’m wondering why everyone is so intimidated by making them. Lauren deserves a lot of credit for writing a great pattern, of course. She’s been saying all along that jeans are easy. I wasn’t convinced, but it’s true! I have a little bit of fitting to do for my next pair, which complicates things. But the actual construction? Not any harder than my Retro Rucksack.

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

The Birkin Flares pattern is excellent – well-written, lots of tips for first-time jeans makers, and a great fit. I made my jeans in just 2 afternoons. Honestly, I’ve spent longer shopping for jeans that fit. I had a couple of moments where I was confused, but overall the pattern went together as easily as any basic pants pattern. The only real difference is the topstitching and rivets. Maybe this is weird, but I love topstitching. I know some people can’t stand the precision it requires, but I enjoy it. And rivets are easy. If you have used magnetic snaps or grommets, rivets aren’t much different. (And if you are still worried, Lauren includes a video link explaining how to install them.)

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

Denim was surprisingly easy to sew. I’ve been using knits and specialty fabrics more lately and the sturdy cotton was a welcome change. My machine does well on thick fabrics. I regularly sew through more layers while I’m making bags. But I think that even a basic machine would be able to handle the denim. Lauren has great tips for the thick spots (including hammering the corners flat before sewing…). The inside seams of the jeans will look most professional if serged, but you can probably get away with using an overlock or wide zigzag stitch if you don’t have a serger.

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

My fabric is this stretch denim. The weight and stretch of this denim is perfect for these jeans, and the price is great. I’m a little less excited about the color. It almost has a slight greenish tint to it. The picture online makes it look a bit darker than it is in real life. It looks like many jeans I’ve seen in the store, but I prefer something slightly darker and a little more grayish. If you like a medium color denim though, this is a pretty good choice for the price.

I used the recommended hardware from Taylor Tailor. They arrived quickly, were reasonably priced, and installed easily. And I still have enough left for another pair. I used Gutermann topstitching thread in the classic gold color. I decided to stick to classic colors this time, but I think next time I’ll try a natural color for topstitching. The gold stands out a little bit more than I like. Not a huge deal, but I thought I’d mention it.

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

I also wanted to include a photo of the zipper opened up. I had to work through this part of the pattern with just the illustration for guidance, and it took a little bit of figuring out. The illustration totally makes sense now. I was probably tired at this point. I looked at my store-bought jeans a lot for help, but I still wasn’t sure that I was doing the right thing without seeing the finished picture. I stepped away, thought about it, and then it made sense when I came back. So, for anyone else that might be looking for a photo to help with the fly construction…

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

So, let’s talk about the fit. Since this is my first pair, I’m considering them a wearable muslin. I didn’t splurge on the really nice fabric since I wasn’t sure how it would go. I’ll definitely be making another pair, but I’ll need to make some fit adjustments. Though I measured correctly and I think I chose the best size, there is still pulling around my lower hips and upper thighs. (I made a size 28. My measurements are right on for this size.) This is a common problem for me with store-bought jeans too, so it isn’t unexpected that these need adjusting as well. My plan is to try a full butt adjustment (though I wish it was called something else!). Basically I need to add a little to the center back seam, raise the top edge of the back leg pieces, and adjust the back upper thigh a little. This should reduce the wrinkling in the front hips and back thigh. I will report back after I try this…

Birkin Flares Jeans Review | Radiant Home Studio

As I said, these fit as well as most of my store-bought jeans, so I’ll definitely be wearing them. Any top that hangs down to my hips will be fine. I just wont wear them with anything tucked in or belted. Overall, I consider this a successful experiment. I feel confident sewing my own jeans now. I know I can get the fit right with a little bit of work, and custom fit jeans will be worth the time and energy spent. I’m also looking forward to the skinny jean option that will be released in a few weeks!

Update: I’ve been wearing my jeans for two days and the denim is stretching and fitting the shape of my body better. In fact, I think I need to go down a size in the waist now. These are feeling loose compared to my store-bought jeans. My alteration plans have changed. I think I may start with a size 27 and make the full butt adjustment from there. I’m going to keep wearing these and wash them a couple times before I make any final decisions though. Moral of the story: if your jeans don’t fit quite right or seem tight, try wearing them around for a while and see what happens…

Sewing Tips, Tutorials

How to Sew Perfect Scallops

I’ve been sewing a lot of projects with scalloped edges recently, and my new Highland Avenue House pattern features a scalloped roof. The pattern contains sewing tips to help you create clean and professional scallops. But there’s no reason not to share my tips with everyone. Would you like to learn how to sew perfect scallops? (Okay. We all know our sewing won’t be perfect, but that’s what people are searching for, right?)

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Sewing Scalloped Edges | Radiant Home Studio
(Some links may be affiliate links, which means I earn a small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for supporting my business in this way!)

I’ll be using the top scallop from the Highland Avenue House to demonstrate, but the technique works for any scallops. You can even make your own scalloped edge using a cup or other round item. I won’t cover that in detail, but it’s pretty easy if you can measure precisely. (Or, check out this awesome quilting ruler that helps you to create perfect scalloped edges!)

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

You’ll need your fabric, a hem gauge or ruler, a marking tool, and blunt pointed object to push out the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

At the peak of each scallop, make a mark directly above the point. My seam allowance is 1/4″ so my mark is 1/4″ from the point. This will be your pivot point. If you are comfortable sewing an even curved line, that should be all of the marking you need.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you need a better guideline to get an even curve, go ahead and make a dotted line by measuring in 1/4″ and making dots along the edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Using a short straight stitch, begin sewing along the first curve using the dotted line as a guide. At the peak, where you marked the pivot point, leave your needle down in the fabric, raise the presser foot and turn the fabric to sew the next curve. Continue to the end.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish sewing, clip the curves. If the seam allowance is more than 1/4″, trim that as well. Clip into the peaks, as close to the stitches as you can, and cut the excess fabric out around each peak.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Turn the scallops right side out. The scallops will not look even yet. If you haphazardly press them at this point, you’ll have a very uneven scalloped edge. Don’t just plop the iron down on top of it!

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

To even out the curved seams, use a thin blunt object such as a paintbrush end or knitting needle.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Push the curves out using your pointed tool. It’s best if you can stretch each curve a little bit to get the seams lined up properly. I work in small sections, pushing out the curve, holding it in place, and pressing as I go. Working slowly and methodically while pressing is the key to getting (nearly) perfect scalloped edges.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

Continue along the curved edge until you reach the end, working to get the curves as smooth as possible.

How to Sew Perfect Scallops | Radiant Home Studio

If you like, you can also topstitch along the scalloped edge. Then add your scalloped detail to your sewing project!

You can use my Mini Highland House pattern to practice sewing scalloped edges. It’s a free gift when you subscribe to my newsletter!

Mini Highland House Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

Or try the Highland Avenue House Pattern

How to Sew Perfect Scalloped Edges | Radiant Home Studio

Highland Avenue House Pillow Pattern | Radiant Home Studio

P. S. If you can’t stop sewing scallops and want some more sewing ideas, you’ll love 18 Beautiful Scalloped Craft Projects!

Sewing, Tutorials

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter

Here’s a tutorial showing you how to make bias binding from a fat quarter. (After making these pencil pouches with the girls last week, I realized I needed a tutorial they could reference!) Why make your own? Well, store-bought bias binding is typically a poly/cotton blend of fabric. It’s a little bit stiff and can melt at high temperatures more quickly than cotton and linen. If you are making something like a pot holder, you’ll definitely want to use cotton binding so you don’t melt your hard work. (Yes. I learned this from experience…)

Store-bought binding typically comes only in solid colors, but when you make bias binding the design possibilities are endless. You can make your projects uniquely yours by adding extra pops of pattern with floral or striped bias binding. I used this method to make bias binding for the pencil pouches I made with the girls. I also shared this technique when I made the Hot Mitt House Potholder for Betz White’s blog.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

Starting with a fat quarter, you can make about 5 yds. of bias tape. There are many methods for doing this, but I find this method to be less confusing than some of the others I have tried.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter:

Materials:

1 fat quarter of quilting cotton
rotary cutter, quilting ruler, and cutting mat
iron and ironing board
bias tape maker (optional, but recommended)

Instructions:

1. Start by folding one corner of the fat quarter of fabric up diagonally and press.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

2. Cut along the diagonal crease using a rotary cutter and mat.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

3. Move the left piece over to the other side and match the straight edges. You should have a parallelogram.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

4. Align the straight edges right sides together, stitch and press.

5. Using a rotary cutter and mat, cut 2” strips of fabric across the diagonals. The last piece will probably be too small and can be discarded.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

6. Connect the strips using a ¼” seam, matching the ends as shown. See how the corners are offset by ¼”? It’s important to align the edges this way to account for the seam allowance and to ensure that you have a nice straight edge when you open it up.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

7. After stitching and pressing the strips together, trim the excess corner pieces.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

8. Push one end of the fabric through the wide end of the bias tape maker and pull it through to the narrow end. See the small, straight opening in the top of the bias tape maker? You can use a pin or seam ripper in that space to guide the fabric through to the opening. Adjust it until the fabric comes out folded equally on each side.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

9. Begin pressing the folds in place with a hot iron as you gently pull back the bias tape maker. Continue pulling and pressing in small sections until you reach the end of the fabric strip.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

10. At this point, you have single fold bias tape. To make double fold bias tape, fold the binding in half one more time and press as you go.

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

When you finish, you’ll have about 5 yards of ½” double fold bias binding to use on your projects!

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio

Though it’s a few minutes of extra work, making your own bias binding for your sewing projects is worth trying. You’ll have new design options and you’ll be able to make higher-quality binding than you can find at the craft store.

If you use the “pin it” button on your browser, you’ll find a hidden full-length step-by-step image to pin! Try it!

Make Bias Binding from a Fat Quarter | Radiant Home Studio
Sewing

Paper Pieced Tulip

Ever since I made my tessellation quilt top, I’ve been hoping to try some more paper piecing projects. I found this free paper pieced tulip pattern from Charise Creates. I discovered Charise through her patterns in Stitch magazine and I just love her pretty projects and tutorials. They are sweet and feminine, but still modern. There are a couple of easier patterns available, but I felt up for a challenge and chose the tulip pattern to work on first.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

The directions are minimal, but as long as you have a basic knowledge of how to paper piece you should be fine. I probably spent a total of an hour and a half on this block.

I really enjoyed putting this together. I had no purpose in mind and no deadline. I love other forms of art and design, and I think paper piecing really combines my love of fabrics with my love of art and design. You start sewing pieces together and this beautiful picture begins to emerge. It’s a fun process!

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

The colored scraps of fabric are leftover from my tessellation quilt. They are mostly Anna Maria Horner, with a couple of Cotton & Steel basics mixed in. The black, white, and gray fabrics were leftovers from my scrap bin.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

I’m still not sure how I’m going to use the finished block. It could be made into a pillow or a bag. (Charise has directions for a cute bag that she made with hers.) But I haven’t decided yet. I’ll probably set it aside to be made into a gift for someone, when the right opportunity comes up.

Hello Spring Paper Pieced Tulip by Charise Creates | Radiant Home Studio

Have you done any paper piecing? What are your favorite patterns?