Angela Wolf, owner of ABO APPAREL, LLC, is an internationally renowned fashion designer, TV personality, spokesperson, instructor and author. She started a custom apparel and alteration business in 1994 and recently launched the Angela Wolf Pattern Collection for the home sewer.
Angela is the couture sewing expert on It’s Sew Easy TV, writes a monthly fashion and trends column on PatternReview.com, is a frequent contributor to Threads and Sew Stylish Magazines, author of How to Start a Home-based Fashion Design Business, and teaches online sewing classes on Patternreview and Craftsy.
Winner of the 2008 Passion for Fashion, in 2010 Angela was one of the featured fashion designers in Chicago, and won 2012’s teacher of the year at the America Sewing Expo.
With a passion for designing quality clothing and exploring her love for creating new trends and techniques, Angela continues to share her talent by teaching and speaking all over the country.
Hopefully you had time over the weekend to spiff up your sewing room. My Craftsy class “Sew Confident: Essential Techniques for Beginners” has officially launched and we are already just shy of 500 students. Very Exciting!
Beginners Guide to Fashion Sewing
Let’s get started! In case you missed last week’s message, the series for beginner sewing starts now.
Part 1. Choosing a Pattern
What’s the big deal about finding a pattern anyway? Scan the pattern books, find a cute cover photos, and you are ready for sewing success, right?
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:
I just got back from a 6 day Sit & Sew tour visiting all the Allbrands stores which started in Louisiana and ended in Texas. Fabulous trip, but definitely dragging a little today. I will be sharing details of the week as soon as I organize all the photos. In short, I met so many wonderful people, ate some amazing food, got over my fear of bridges, I now have official Mardi Gras beads …
In the meantime, I posted this message to facebook and realized not all of you are on facebook, so I thought I would THANK YOU again.
Saturday was the last day of teaching and I was flying out the next morning. Super tired, but before crashing I decided to scan my emails and came across one from Craftsy with the title “Are you a blogger award finalist?”. I clicked on the link and couldn’t believe it! You nominated my blog to the top 4 Best Sewing Instructor Blog again. You all are AWESOME! This means so much to me, thank you, thank you. I also know it is a little work to nominate a blog at the first stage, you have to fill out a lot of things. Thanks so much for going through the effort, you inspire me to keep at it 🙂
One More Round of Voting
Now, there is a last round of voting that ends Wednesday at midnight. This vote is quick and easy:
Click here to vote: Scroll down the page to Vote Now! Best Craftsy Sewing Instructor’s Blog and you will see my name. Vote and then watch the tally live.
Just being in the top 4 is such an honor and knowing it’s because of your effort to nominate me really makes my day and a huge THANK YOU is all I can say! By the way, while you are scanning the page you might want to check out a few of my friends blogs that also made the top 4 in their category: Leah Day has a great one for quilting and Lisa Shaw in Embroidery.
The 2014 Wardrobe Challenge was so much fun! Seeing your outfits on flickr and following your Pinterest boards has been a treat and a quick way to get in the sewing mood, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. There have been a few hiccups on my end, so thanks for your patience. (Note to self: Never plan anything while I am traveling to teach, tape It’s Sew Easy, or shoot online classes – just not enough time and brain space ) In fact, I still need to post the list of winners, but I wanted to give you the last challenge.
I told you the last challenge would be an easy one. Take a picture of the clothes in your closet that you have sewn this past year and post it on Flickr before February 15th (the same way you posted the other photos – click here if you need help uploading to flickr). Even if you only have 1 garment, your photo qualifies you for this last challenge. Winners will be all random drawings from the entrants, so even if you haven’t participated yet or you feel intimidated by the rock stars who have really used the challenge to fill their closet, let us see what you have made. Again this is just 1 photo, just like mine. Good luck and thanks again to all that have participated.
I don’t know if you read my last post about the cooking adventure, but many of you gave the best tips for cleaning the pan! the baking soda worked like a charm and I wrote all the cleaning tips down so I am ready for the next burn. Well, I am off to edit pictures and explain to Winn how I got my mardi gras beads 🙂
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
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.
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
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?
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.
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 guidefeature 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.
WILD CARD ENTRIES
You will notice August and September offered a Wild Card entry and there are a few reasons for this:
NEED HELP JOINING FLICKR?
Many of you have emailed needing help with Flickr, which is the primary method of entering the contest. Hopefully you are getting the hang of it now, but in all fairness, if any of you need help setting up your Flickr or navigating around the site, please let me know and I will be more than happy to help you get started.
ARE YOUR PHOTOS SHOWING UP ON THE WARDROBE CHALLENGE FLICKR GROUP?
More importantly, are your photos showing up in the Wardrobe Challenge Flickr page? As you upload a photo for a certain challenge, make sure that you click on “add to groups” (on the left hand side) and then click on “Angela Wolf’s Wardrobe Challenge”. After the photo is uploaded, click on the Wardrobe Challenge Flickr Group page and make sure your photo is there. If you don’t see your photo on the group page, the judges don’t either. Again, let me know if you need help with this, and I would be more than happy to help.
WHAT’S A WILD CARD?
The idea for this challenge is to inspire people to sew garments and fill their wardrobe with your own designs. Of course I can’t possibly add a theme that suits everyone, so the Wild Card entries are in case you want to sew a garment outside of the themes. Just add “Wild Card” to the description of your garment along with either the month “August” or “September” (again check that it show up on the Flickr page) and your entry will qualify for the month indicated. Wild Card entries will be judged at the close of the official challenge and must be received by January 31, 2015. Yes I did say January 31, 2015 – read below for details.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE …
I would like to thank everyone for participating in my wardrobe challenge. So far, the garments are fabulous and the Pinterest page is fun too, what a great place to share inspiration! The idea of filling my closet with my own hand-sewn apparel is a mission of mine (hope I live a long time to fulfill that one 🙂 ) and my wish is to inspire you to do the same. I could have called this challenge a blog-athon or sew-along, but I chose to go out on a limb and ask some of my favorite sewing businesses to donate gifts and prizes – which they so generously offered; thus creating a full-blown contest. The response has been phenomenal and I have enjoyed every bit of watching what you all are working on. But with any long-term contest or event, some changes need to be made in order to better the experience for all involved.
This is the reason for August Wild Card month: As I mentioned many of you were struggling with the Flickr group, I was waiting for others to reply to our emails about winning past challenges, and a few other kinks that needed to be worked out.
This was not the reason for September’s Wild Card: I don’t usually share my personal life too much, but I think this one is important. Labor Day weekend I was notified of my Grandmother entering the hospital. Although it didn’t seem serious at first, she passed away shortly after. My Grandmother was my best friend. After losing my Grandfather 2 years ago, this was almost unbearable.
Those of you that know me will attest that I always take all my work seriously and give 100%, if not more – even if it’s donating time working on my Wardrobe Challenge or helping a fellow sewer with a sewing dilemma. There is a fine line though; my family comes first and always will. So during this difficult time, which has been very emotional for me, I stepped away from the office for a short period to be with family.
On a positive note, last week I taught at the American Sewing Expo, which is as invigorating as it gets. So many of you came up and showed off your new outfits that you have been sewing in the Wardrobe Challenge. Thanks, you really made my day and reminded me of why this challenge is going on. So now you have 2 chances at a Wild Card Entry 🙂
Not only that, I am extending the contest to January 31, 2015 – simply because of the Holiday’s. Please remember this challenge is supposed to be fun and inspiring! Now, for those that like zippers, October’s challenge is “All Zipped Up” and I have some exciting tutorials on inserting zippers coming your way this month.
I love sweaters and shawls, especially since I am always cold in the air-conditioned restaurants (not that we have needed air conditioning in Michigan this summer!). Thinking of the wardrobe challenge, sweaters are one of the items that I end up buying. Yes I do know how to crochet, yet trim on a jacket is about as far as that usually ends up. A small knitting machine sits in the corner of the studio (on my bucket list to learn how to use 🙂 ).
I was recently sewing a fringe skirt and the tweed scraps falling on the floor reminded me of meeting a women wearing a really cute, long, loosely woven (sweater looking) vest. It was at the annual conference for ASDP, so I had to ask the question that only sewer’s are allowed to ask each other “did you make that?”. She had indeed! I was really intrigued when she mentioned using water-soluble stabilizer and scraps from her last sewing project – yes, scraps!
Below is an example of using scraps from my tweed skirt:
Decorative Yarn, tweed fabric threads, or other scraps
NOTE: WAWAK sewing has offered my readers a discount for July – yeah!
Purchase a minimum of $30 and receive 10% off your entire order – Use coupon code WAB714 when checking out (expires July 31st) Thank them when you order, they are the best! :))
Lay out one layer of water-soluble stabilizer (54″ for a scarf)
Randomly place yarn, scraps, hairy yarn, etc.
Place another layer of water-soluble stabilizer (same length as the first piece) on top of the yarns
Using long pins, pin through all the layers
Starting at one end, stitch down the center of the stabilizer, stitching through all the layers. Be careful not to sew through any pins, stitch all the way to the end. (Draw a straight line down the center if you need something to follow).
From the center, align the edge of the presser foot with the first stitched line. Stitch a second row, and a third, and 4th, until you get to about 1″ from the edge of the stabilizer. (If your machine has a Laser Vision Guide, like my BrotherDreamweaver, this would be the perfect application!)
Continue stitching rows along the entire length of the stabilizer until you have the desired width.
Turn the fabric and stitch a row from side to side, across the width of the stabilizer.
Continue to stitch row after row until the entire length is filled.
The width of the stitched rows depend on how tight you want the weave of the new fabric or lace. Just be sure to keep it somewhat tight or the yarns will fall away.
The next step is easy! Rinse the fabric panel in warm water and watch the water-soluble stabilizer disappear or throw the fabric in the wash on a hand-wash cycle, again with warm water.
Above you can see the stabilizer has disappeared and I am left with a loosely woven fabric. Notice the stitching lines, this is good to keep in mind when you choose the thread color.
Who would have ever guessed
could go so far!
A few more tips:
Throw the fabric in the dryer to soften the hand
The stabilizer and yarns shrink up after washing and drying, keep that in mind if you need a specific length.
The more yarn and scraps, the thicker the fabric
To make an outfit, stitch all the pieces together before washing out the stabilizer
Many of you have asked about the design on the cover of June’s wardrobe challenge and I can’t think of any better way to get back on the blogging roll. Where have I been hiding? Actually, I have been traveling quite a bit: some for work, visiting family, and of course getting a little fishing in.
I keep my blog notebook with me and write ideas and topics when the inspiration comes. The book is getting pretty full, so the good news is I am back from my trips and have caught up on all my crazy tight deadlines (what a breath of fresh air 🙂 ) and now I have the time to blog, yeah!
I have spent the last two weeks sewing and embroidering up a storm. I am excited to share what I have been working on and ready to get going on the wardrobe challenge … I need some summer clothes!
First, I have some great fabricating techniques to share with you; therefore, I am extending the deadline for June’s Challenge until July 31st. There will still be a separate July challenge, but with summer in most of our backyards, this will give you more time.
That definition pretty much leaves the door open for ultimate creativity, wouldn’t you say? One idea includes designing your own fabric or altering a fabric into something totally different, which is what I did with the above jacket.
The fabric used for the applique trimming is a polyester / satin. A lightweight fabric with fabulous drape, perfect for a blouse or lining (both of which I plan to add to jacket). That fabric, if left alone, would be a nightmare to create appliques or cut-outs, so I fabricated – sounds like a bad word 🙂 !
The trick – Heat N Bond, now available from my favorite place WAWAK Sewing and comes in 5 yard and 35 yard pieces. At first I wasn’t too sure about this stuff, but basically you iron it to the back of the fabric and it makes it easier for you to cut out an applique – especially if you are using the Brother Scan-n-Cut
This is how easy an applique can be:
Choose a design – for the sleeve I enlarged a design already in the scan-n-cut memory.
Place the bonded fabric onto the cutting mat (the paper backing on the heat –n-bond makes it easy to stick)
Press the start button (told you it was easy!)
Peel off the backing and place the appliques on the garment.
Once you have the perfect placement, use a press cloth and press the applique in place. Notice I attach the appliques before sewing the sleeve together.
Even though the cut of the scan-n-cut prevents the fabric edges from fraying, I still stitch the applique in place. I choose the blanket stitch and stitched around each applique. That took some time, but it looks great. Almost looks like leather!
I followed all those steps for the jacket front and again used a blanket stitch.
Of course I could cut these appliques by hand, but I really like the fact that all the front pieces are exactly the same! By the way, don’t look too closely at my studio – can you tell I have been working 🙂
Well, that’s one fun way to fabricate, much more to come. Have you ever tried appliqueing apparel?