Sewing and Design Meet: Pebbles

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another installment of “Sewing and Design Meet”.  This time I am sharing all about my Pebbles design and what I have made with it.  The majority of this post will be focused on the Lark Tee I sewed via a cut-and-sew project I ordered through Spoonflower’s sister site, Sprout Patterns, and I will be speaking a bit about that experience too.  At the end I’ll share a quick look at a simple winter accessories set I also made. This post is LONG.  If you don’t care about sewing details you can read about the design and then just scroll and look at all the photos 🙂

DESIGN:

Pebbles is a coordinate I created to go with my Sandcastles design as part of my Beach Bliss Collection.  I originally offered this print in 2 different colorways and then added a third one which does not actually color coordinate with the collection because I specifically created it for the winter accessories project.

Pebbles Pattern 3 Color Versions by Brenda Zapotosky

The Sandcastles design was created from hand drawings that I vectorized and turned into a pattern in Illustrator.  I included pebble details on the sandcastles and as background infill.  To create the Pebbles print I pulled out pebbles from the pattern and arranged them into vertical lines.  Below is a look at Sandcastles and some of the original hand drawings.  Most often, even if I do a hand drawing first, I completely redraw them in Illustrator, but this time I used auto trace since I wanted to maintain the feel of the hand drawing which I think matches the beach theme well.

Sandcastles Pattern and Illustrations by Brenda Zapotosky

 

FABRIC AND SPROUT PATTERNS:

Pebbles by Brenda Zapotosky on Modern Jersey Fabric
Design:  Pebbles Multicolored  Printed on:  Modern Jersey Fabric

Instead of purchasing “raw” fabric for this project I ordered my fabric AND pattern through Sprout Patterns.  If you are not familiar with Sprout they are one of Spoonflower’s sister companies.  With Sprout, you can order sewing patterns from a wide range of companies and designers printed directly on the fabric!  It is the ultimate, cut-and-sew: all you need to do is cut around the outlines of the pieces and start sewing!  With your Sprout purchase you also get a pdf copy of the pattern so you can sew it again in the future and also use the pieces for adjustments, etc.  (Which I definitely did).  I chose the Multicolored version of my Pebbles design printed on Modern Jersey.  Here is a look at a portion of the printed fabric where you can see a pattern piece and how the design continues on the unused fabric:

Pebbles Lark Tee Printed by Sprout 1

There are some pro’s and con’s to using Sprout and I think ultimately it will vary person to person on whether this sort of sewing experience is right for you.

PROS:

  • This is definitely a time saver.  Not only does it save you the time of printing and assembling a pdf or cutting out a paper pattern, but it saves on the time it takes to cut fabric too since all the arranging of the pieces on the fabric and lining up the grainlines etc. is already done for you.
  • You can order exactly the amount of fabric you need!  Instead of having to over buy on yardage numbers, the cut of fabric you get from Sprout will give you the fractional yards without having to buy a full 2 yards for example for a 1.5 yard project.  You can also mix and match fabric designs within a project… so if you want all your trim pieces to be a different fabric, you can select a different fabric design or even a solid color for those pieces.
  • Even though the fabric is sized to fit the pattern, for many projects there will still be some unused spaces leftover.  Sprout prints the fabric design on these areas too (as you can see in the photo) so you might end up with some bonus fabric pieces you can use for something else.  (I did end up NEEDING some of my extra, which you will read about below).

CON:

  • You can only choose to have one size printed… they do not grade between sizes.   If you are a “straight out of the package” size this is probably not even a con.  I am most definitely NOT a single size gal and this is a big issue for me.  I found a way to work around this and grade a bit between sizes which I will discuss in the sewing section of this post.

One last detail that is VERY important to note is that you MUST follow washing instructions.  I learned this the hard way as I shrunk my fabric, which changed the size and proportion of the pattern pieces!  I am so used to pre-washing my fabric in a blast of hot water and hot dryer to get the fabric to shrink as much as possible before I sew with it, I was basically on auto-pilot and did the same with this project.  BAD IDEA.  I was able to make it work, thankfully, but my shirt is a bit shorter as a result.  AND I had to cut new sleeves.  Thankfully they were the cap style and needed very little fabric and were able to fit on unused portions of the fabric but it is a bummer that I had to do that instead of saving those sections for a future project.

SEWING:

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 1

The Lark Tee is a basic tee shirt with a ton of options.  For my Sprout project I chose the scoop neck with cap sleeves (but as I mentioned above you get the pdf so you get ALL the views and variations with it and can print it and use it like a regular pattern. I have already made several other versions).  I chose Modern Jersey as the fabric option.  The sewing is very straightforward so I won’t really go into that, but I do want to talk a little bit about grading the pattern.

I am pear shaped and in this pattern (and pretty much all Grainline top patterns per the SIZE CHART) I am a size 4 bust and my hips sort of hover between size 8 and 10.  But with Sprout you can only pick 1 size, so I had to do some creative thinking.  I have square shoulders and a wide upper back so I usually like to go up a size (to a 6) for my bust.  And since this was a stretchy tee, I figured I would be safe going with the size 8 for my hips.  So I ordered a size 8 with plans of using the pdf pattern pieces to grade the top smaller.  Of course needing to print and assemble ALL the tee pieces pretty much negated the fast and quick factor of Sprout, but I really wanted to try the whole process once to see how it worked, AND it was still faster having the pieces already outlined on the fabric since it saved me from laying them all out and finding the grain, etc.

As I mentioned above, I unknowingly shrunk my pieces, so when I laid the pattern pieces on the printed fabric things did NOT line up like I expected.  The fabric shrunk WAY MORE vertically then it did horizontally… so they weren’t smaller everywhere, more like squashed.  In the end it was almost good that I was grading it smaller, because I was able to fix this with my adjustments.  It did mean however, that the top got shorter.  AND, the size 6 sleeve piece did not fit within the outline.  Thankfully, there was enough extra fabric elsewhere to trace the sleeves.  After that was all worked out the sewing was easy!  Especially since I sewed it twice with other fabrics prior to cutting into the good stuff.

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 3

Overall I am very happy with the fit of this tee.  I LOVE the size of the scoop neck! It is basically my “dream scoop”.  The sleeves are maybe a tad snug for cap sleeves and I would like the tee to be an inch longer (but that was the fault of the shrinkage).  I absolutely LOVE the Pebbles design as a tee, but the white background version might not have been the wisest choice. (Thankfully I ALWAYS wear a tank top under everything).  I also do not love it in Modern Jersey and wish I would have chosen the Cotton Spandex instead.  I have sewn a TON of things with Modern Jersey, I love the fabric, but for a tee shirt… it is just not breathable enough for my tastes.  But this is totally personal preference.  I am a natural fibers gal.

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 4

Lark Tee in Pebbles fabric by Brenda Zapotosky 2

*** You might have noticed a pants change in these photos… I actually took photos on multiple occassions (months apart!) and locations.  I actually finished this top last year!  The blog post was so delayed I had a chance to take another round!

If you love this project and want to make one for yourself, here is the direct link to the Lark Tee on Sprout Patterns already combined with this design.  If you like the tee but don’t want to use Sprout Patterns you can also buy it from Grainline Studio directly.  It is also available as a paper pattern.

PROJECT #2:  Neck and Ear Warmer Matching Set

Pebbles Winter Set by Brenda Zapotosky

Technically this Project #1 since I made this well before the tee shirt but the blog post flows better to have it at the end.  Using the Drizzle colorway of the Pebbles design, printed again on Modern Jersey, I made a matching fleece-backed ear and neck warm set.  Both of these are self-drafted.  I love the fit of the ear warmer but I think I would tweak the neck warmer proportions should I make it again.  And I would not use the Modern Jersey again.  While I do love it for infinity scarfs, in this application where I backed it with fleece, a fabric with more structure like cotton spandex works better.  I have made several ear warmers and the ones that used cotton spandex are much smoother against the fleece.

That’s it!  You made it to the end!  Woop!  I actually have made one other item with some of Sprout leftovers, a headband, but I don’t have a good photo to share.  (And still have pieces left I could use as accents on a future project too!) I think I covered everything, but feel free to ask any questions or just say hello in the comments.

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Sewing and Design Meet: Transit Lines

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another edition of Sewing and Design Meet!  This time I am sharing about my Transit Lines design and the tote bag I made with it. This design is part of the City Collection which can be found in my Spoonflower shop.

DESIGN:

Transit Lines by Brenda Zapotosky

When putting together a new collection I don’t often sit down and sketch out ideas for coordinates but for CITY I actually did.  My original idea for the Transit Lines design was to have criss-crossing lines going in many directions, similar to a subway map.  However, as I started drawing it in Illustrator I really loved the look of just the horizontal lines with the thickened bars and decided to take it in that direction instead.  I love how the pattern is a versatile stripe and yet, when paired with its title, can easily (I think) invoke images of the city site that inspired it.  Whether you interpret the thick bars as trains or stations is up to you!  I also really love the color palette I decided on for this print: mostly neutral but with pops of color.

FABRIC: 

Transit Lines on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky BLOG

A few years ago Spoonflower had an awesome and rare 50% off sale on Eco Canvas and I ordered a couple of yards.  One yard I divided into (2) 1/2 yard pieces with the intention to make a tote bag with each of them, although at the time I did not have a specific pattern picked out.  I ended up choosing free tote patterns from Purl Soho for both of the totes.  I have a previous blog post about the first one I made, the Railroad Tote, and some zipper pouches I made with the extras.  I chose the Everyday Tote for the Transit lines design as I thought the more horizontal shape would suit it well.

The Eco Canvas has pluses and minuses for me personally.  On the plus side: It washes and sews well and colors are bright and vibran.  On the minus side: It is  much softer and drapier than other canvases which is something I do not like.  But I think this is really just a personal preference. I gave the Railroad Tote to my mom and she loves that soft quality.  When making the zipper pouches I decided to interface the Eco Canvas portions and I was much happier with the structure.  So for the Everyday Tote I knew I wanted to interface those pieces.  I needed to do some construction changes to accommodate this (Along with a bunch of other construction changes) which I detail below.

SEWING:

There were a lot of steps to making this bag, including some extra ones that came along with my changes, but otherwise it was straight forward and easy to sew.  I didn’t take a lot of in-progress photos (my sewing space is not photo friendly) and it was difficult to get a good overall look of the bag.  Here is the best one:

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 3

As mentioned above, I made several construction changes when sewing up this bag.  I knew I wanted to interface the Eco Canvas pieces and since the bag isn’t lined, I needed to underline at least those portions so that the interfacing was not exposed.  After contemplating solutions for this, I decided to also change how the bag panels were sewn.  Per the instructions, you cut two full side pieces from what eventually becomes the “upper” fabric, and then cut bottom panels of the “lower” fabric which go over top the first fabric on just the bottom portion.  There are some good reasons to sew the bag this way.  It ensures you aren’t relying on a horizontal seam to hold the top and bottom half of the bag together and it creates a nice double layer for the bag base.  But, it meant that 1/2 of my good patterned fabric was going to be covered which I wasn’t crazy about.  So, I decided to instead cut both pieces at half height and let the seam where the bias “piping” detail is connect them together.  Since the bag side pieces were already cut, I chose to cut one in half height wise and that determined the height of my bag (and preserved a nice FQ sized piece of the Transit Lines for a future project!).  I sewed the top and bottom halves together with the accent bias “piping” in between.  I then UNDERLINED the entire height of the bag sides with a coordinating quilting cotton that I had leftover from the previous Eco Canvas projects.  I quilted this to the bag panels which helped provide the extra stability I lost when I changed the construction.  The quilting, despite using a walking foot AND having design lines to follow, is kind of wonky… Quilting is not my forte!  Despite the lackluster quilting, I absolutely love the end result inside the bag.  I think the quilted underlining really gives the bag a high quality look!

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 1

Other changes I made:

  • I flip flopped from the directions which fabric I used for the front and back of the pocket so that I could enjoy more of the print.  I also made the pocket wider since there was plenty of room to do so.
  • I changed the order of sewing so that the folded over top hem of the bag was sewn last.  I did this on my Railroad Tote too.  By saving it until last the tops of the side seams are concealed instead of exposed.
  • Longer straps.  I like to wear my bag over my shoulder and longer straps make it more comfortable when I do.

I chose to use 2 different colors of bias tape instead of one and I am very happy with the results.  On areas where I wanted the trim and finishing to stand out (like on the exterior seam or around the top of the tote fold over hem) I used black.  To finish all the interior seams I used white.

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 5

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 4

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 6
DETAILS! Pretty details are one of the “perks” of sewing your own!  Like rotating the print to be vertical on the pocket.

The webbing I used for the straps (linked at the end) is a bit industrial.  It works ok… especially since the Eco Canvas is also a synthetic, but I wouldn’t get it again.  I purchased a large roll of it and have a lot leftover, so it will probably pop up in another project at some point. It was a really good deal though, and should be pretty durable (I hope).

I was hoping that this bag would work as my music bag and I am happy to report that it works perfectly!  My previous bag was a freebie tote that I got when I worked in Architecture.  It was rather ugly and advertised a window company that I am not even a big fan of (otherwise I might have posted a “before” photo).  I love having my new “chic” bag that is me-made and features one of my own designs!  It holds all my music, books, and misc. with room to spare! (And even packed can sling over my shoulder!)

Transit Lines Tote by Brenda Zapotosky 2

DETAILS SUMMARY:

(I have seen others do a summary like this and think it is a fun way to provide quick access info all in one place. I will probably make it a regular feature of my sewing posts.)  

Pattern:  Free Everyday Tote from Purl Soho

Fabrics:

Notions:

  • Pellon Interfacing, Lightweight, Fusible (I can’t remember the exact #)
  • 1 package each white and black bias tape
  • HipGirl 1 1/4″ Black Polypro Webbing
  • Sewing label designed by me and printed by Spoonflower

That about wraps it up!  If I missed a detail that you would like to know about feel free to ask in the comments!

Thanks for Reading!

Brenda

 

Sewing and Design Meet: Floral Bliss

Sewing and Design Meet Logo

It is time for another installment of Sewing and Design Meet.  Actually it is time for the second installment… I started this series last year and then never did a second one!  Oops!  Hopefully this year, there will be more regular posts for this series.

Today I am sharing about my Floral Bliss design and several projects I sewed with it. I currently have 4 different colorways of the design plus coordinates all available in the Floral Bliss Collection in my Spoonflower Shop.

DESIGN:

This design has a really fun story, since it began as a doodle in a doodle book I kept a long, long time ago.  Here is a look at the original, non-repeating doodle:

Floral Bliss Doodle by Brenda Zapotosky

As you can see, this doodle was not created with a repeating pattern in mind, and thus, there was a lot of work involved in turning it into one.  It was a multi-step process, where I would split the design apart in photoshop, print it out and add more elements by hand, re-scan it, erase elements, digitally tweak etc. Here is just one in-progress look.

Floral Bliss In Progress Pattern Creation by Brenda Zapotosky

At this point you can see the original page outline was still present.  Once I went through all those steps mentioned above (some more than once) and had a repeating tile with all my hand drawn elements, I next started the long process of recreating it as a vector tile in Illustrator.  I did auto-trace it as a first step, but there was a lot of time spent editing and tweaking, etc again in Illustrator.  This is not a fast process!

The original use of this pattern was for a Spoonflower limited palette contest. There was no theme other than the colors: Coral, Mint, Black and White, so it was a perfect opportunity to use an abstract pattern. Here is the look at that colorway of the pattern for the contest:

Floral Bliss Coral and Mint by Brenda Zapotosky
Floral Bliss (Coral and Mint) Design by Brenda Zapotosky

This is one of the most “hearted” designs in my shop.  Because of its popularity and the amount of time invested in the pattern, it made sense to offer it in other color versions as well.  I also added a second, smaller scale version.  I currently offer it in 4 different colorways and 2 different scales!  I have sewn with 3 of those colorways.  Here is a look at the other 3 versions:

Floral Bliss 3 Color Versions by Brenda Zapotosky
Colorways Left to Right:  Pink and Gray, Tropical, Winter Blues

 

 

SEWING:

The first project I made from one 8 x 8 swatch:  A Travel Eye Mask.

Floral Bliss Eye Mask by Brenda Zapotosky

This was made with the Floral Bliss Pink and Gray (Small Scale) version of the design.  I am not 100% sure which fabric type this is… one of the woven cottons.  I created my own sewing pattern by tracing a freebie eye mask that I had (modifying the shape and size a little bit and adding seam allowances). It is backed in raspberry pink flannel with a layer of batting in between and I kept the piece of 1/4″ elastic I used “raw” (which I rather like).  Bonus:  All the extra materials were already in my stash!

The second project I made used the original colorway of the design in the Small Scale again combined with a coordinating Polka Dot:  A Travel Jewelry Pouch.

Floral Bliss Travel Jewelry Pouch 4 views by Brenda Zapotosky

This was a gift for my sister and Floral Bliss was one of the patterns I knew she liked. (She also loves polka dots).  It was quite an ambitious project for me at the time I made it.  It was my first time working with vinyl, had multiple zippers, and a LOT of bias binding.  I actually wrote an entire blog post about this one where you can read all about it in great detail.

The third, and final project so far is an Infinity Scarf.

Floral Bliss Winter Blues Infinity Scarf by Brenda Zapotosky

This scarf features the newest color of the Floral Bliss design, Winter Blues, in the larger scale.  (The small scale version has not been added to my shop yet.)  It is printed on 1/2 yard of Cotton Spandex Jersey.  I don’t like my infinity scarfs to be too voluminous so 1/2 yard is the perfect size for me.  I used Spoonflower’s Fill-A-Yard function to get 1/2 yard of this print and a different print for the other half which I also plan to make a scarf with.

I created this colorway specifically for this project.  I wear a lot of scarves in the wintertime and keep them on even inside, so I like a lot of variety.  This print, at this scale, in these colors will work well with a lot of what is already in my wardrobe and is quite different than my other scarves.  Here it is styled with another recent make of mine, a Lane Raglan by Hey June Handmade sewn up in RK Laguna Knit in Navy.  I think this is the 7th Lane Raglan I have sewn.  It is definitely a TNT (Tried and True) pattern for me!

Floral Bliss Scarf with Lane Raglan Brenda Zapotosky

FINAL THOUGHTS:

I think it is apparent from the above projects that Floral Bliss is a very versatile design!  I sewed these 3 very different projects quite far apart.  It is fun to see that it is a design that I continue to return to and use in different ways.  I have not sewn anything up in the Tropical colorway yet, but there is the chance that I will in the future should the right project come along!  A skirt or dress for summertime would be lovely in that version of the print.

How about you?  Which version is your favorite?

Thanks for reading!

Brenda

 

Sewing and Design Meet: Canvas Bags

Canvas Bags group picture by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I am thinking of starting a new regular series of blog posts:  Sewing and Design Meet.  A place to showcase those projects where my fabric designer self and my sewing self come together to create a project!  (Or in simpler terms: When I sew stuff with my own fabric designs 🙂 ).

I am kicking off the series with a trio of bags created from 1/2 yard of my Hip Sequential (Cool) design printed on Eco Canvas by Spoonflower.

DESIGN:

A look at the pattern:

Geometric Promo by Brenda Zapotosky

This pattern was actually created during a special Spoonflower design challenge last spring.  The theme for this day of the challenge was geometric and I had a little flash of inspiration! I really liked the idea of solid and divided rectangles slowing getting smaller in width in sequential order. The end pattern worked so well with my existing Hip Geometrics Collection I have since added it in all four collection colorways as well!

SEWING:

When I ordered my fabric, Spoonflower did not yet offer their Fill-A-Yard service so I had to create mine manually by uploading a full yard design file divided into two patterns.  My thought was that 1/2 yard on the wide fabric should be enough for two bags/totes of some kind, although I did not have a specific pattern in mind when I ordered.  I chose Eco-canvas as my substrate as Spoonflower was having an amazing 1/2 price sale on it at the time.  A look at the printed fabric:

Hip Sequential on Eco Canvas by Brenda Zapotosky

I had the fabric for quite a while when I saw a few free tote tutorials by Purl Soho and knew I had found the right bag for this print!  For this pattern I chose the Railroad Tote.  I thought the rectangular shape was a good pairing for the geometric print.  To pair with my fabric I purchased some Kaufman Big Sur Canvas in Solid Gray.  Buying online is usually a bit of a gamble (unless you have purchased the exact product before) so I was quite excited to see how perfectly the canvas I chose matched both this print AND the other pattern, Transit Lines, I had printed with it.

Railroad Tote by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

I mostly made the tote per instructions.  Since I had plenty of the canvas and I like pockets on my bags I decided to add the pocket to BOTH sides of the tote.  I also changed the finishing order a bit so that I could have the tops of my side seams enclosed in the folded over edge of the top of the bag.  This required a few more steps and was a bit trickier to sew this way, but well worth it for the final result!

I am very happy with how the bag turned out but I would make a few tweaks for the next one.  The side pockets end up being very tall and skinny.  While the look from the outside is quite lovely I would prefer them to be less deep, so next time I would modify them somehow.  I also plan on making it bigger overall.

I had a long skinny piece of this print left over and plenty of the gray canvas so I decided to sew up some zippy pouches with the left overs.  Originally these were supposed to be a bigger and smaller pouch in two different styles and the zippers I purchased for them are 2″ different in length.  However, I did not anticipate that the style of the bigger pouch made it appear smaller and the extensions I added to the smaller pouch would increase its size so much.  In the end they are almost the same size!

Hip Sequential Zippies by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

For the “larger” pouch (Top bag in the photo) I used another free bag pattern: The Open Wide Zippered Pouch by Noodlehead.  I have used this pattern before and it is a really nifty design!  (Do people still say nifty?)  I can’t remember for sure which size I made but I think it was the smallest one as I am fairly certain I used a 9″ zipper.  I know the pattern calls for 10″, but you really can’t find that easily at any stores by me.  Not sure if I made the bag smaller to compensate, but having made it before I knew that the zip overhangs a lot so there is definitely wiggle room there.

The “smaller” pouch is just a basic rectangle lined zipper pouch using a 7″ zipper.  To give it a little extra flair I added the little canvas loop to the side.  I also chose to add canvas extenders to each side of the zipper so that the ends wouldn’t pull into the sides of the pouch.  I used the technique outlined by my fellow Spoonflower designer and friend Ceri for her cut and sew pouch project: The Hand Strap Clutch.  You can see both details in the photo below.  You can also get a small glimpse of the lining.  For both zipper pouches I used a “textured look” quilting cotton, “Crosshatch Sketch”, that I purchased from Hawthorne Threads.  They no longer have the color I chose:  Fog, but there are several other colors available that might pair well with this print.  There are of course many color match choices in my Spoonflower shop too, including this teal color version of my Hip Shapes design.

Hip Sequential Small Zip Close Up by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

One last note:  The Eco-Canvas is not as stiff as normal canvas (definitely not as stiff as the Big Sur Canvas I paired it with) and tends to flop around a little.  I highly recommend using interfacing if you want a bit more structure to whatever you are making with it.  I added a very light interfacing to both zippered pouches and really liked the bit of structure it gave.  Unfortunately the inside of the canvas is exposed on the tote so you would have to give it a lining if you wanted to add interfacing there.  I have the other 1/2 yard of my Eco-Canvas left with the other print I chose to use for a second tote and I am currently brainstorming ideas of how I can add lining/double layer to the top pieces, so I can interface that one!  If anyone has any suggestions, I will be making the Everyday Tote with it.

I’ll leave you with a few more views of the bags!

Canvas Bags details by Brenda Zapotosky for Blog

Thanks for reading!

Brenda