Monday, November 12, 2012

Up Next

There are two walls in my sewing room, one of them has windows and the second one is a movable wall hung on barn door track. The surface is homosote and I pin various things on it, including this design canvas. I took some muslin and use it for pinning fabrics, moving them in and out to see what combinations I like best.  The photo pinned to it is my current inspiration, pulled to the front when I got some lovely wool gabardine samples from Michael's.  You can see the blue Italian cashmere and wool gabardine above.  Gabardine is definitely not my favorite wool to sew with. It's hard surface is difficult to press and it doesn't have the same drape as  plain weave worsteds or even better yet, wool crepe.  But, it was the exact color of the photo and hell, I am tired of black and gray for pants.  You'll recall the leopard print?  I  didn't have a green quite as vibrant as the tweed coat, but I did have this green wool blend doubleknit in my stash. It's the sample above the black, gray and white knit print on the board.  It's much brighter in real life, much greener than the photo shows.  That will be a zip front cardigan and the knit a top.  That black and white tweed to the left of the blue is a silk charmeuse that will eventually become a blouse for this collection.  
Lots of steam and pressure is necessary for pressing gabardine flat, but by the same token it marks very easily.  Press as sewn first and then press it open.

Gabardine presses flat better on a hard surface. I have this on a wood cheese board(don't know why it's called this, but it's not for cutting cheese!) with muslin covering it.  The envelopes keep the seam edges from imprinting on the outside. Lots of steam, a clapper presses it flat and then I leave it until it's cool before moving.  It's worth it. In the picture above you can see the seam that was pressed and clapped on the left, the envelopes still in place and the pressed open but not clapped seam to the right.  It's open, but it doesn't stay flat.  Lots of time but it's worth it.  Sometimes I think I spend more time pressing than sewing.

I have not given up my color blocked coat but I needed something easy to sew, and for me that's a pair of pants.  I found a pattern for the coat in an old Burda and I'll trace that and make a muslin while I sew this group.  
Next up, the latest class with Kenneth King.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Voted

Hopefully you have already voted or are planning to get to the polls.  I certainly urge you to do so. I was brought up in a family that never missed an election as was my husband.  We taught our children that voting is a privilege. How many people are there in the world who don't have that right?  
My family has all voted. My children took advantage of early voting in their states, Alex because it was easier to do it on her day off, and Josh because he's in China. My dil was at the polls at 6:04 this morning so that she could vote, take Jakob to daycare and get to work on time.  
Vote.  It's important.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Finally, It's Finished

My leather jacket is finally finished. Am I happy with it?  With reservations.  

If you'll remember I used the center panels of one Burda with the side front, back and sleeves from a jacket I made a few years ago, that fit well btw.  I made two muslins for this and thought all of the fit issues had been resolved.  I still have sleeves that bind at the armscye. I scooped out the front armscye and lowered the underarm a bit.  I was afraid to do too much of this, so I left it. This is not the jacket that Kenneth King fit for me, but when I told him that my sleeves always bind at the front he added ease to the biceps.  I added ease to the biceps and it seemed to fit well in the muslin.  The only thing that I can think of is that I interlined the lining with cotton flannel for warmth and that that and the leather were took up too much of the ease I had added. Anyone with suggestions please chime in. I always have this problem with woven fabrics.  This is one of the reasons I signed up for the sleeves and collars class with Kenneth King. We are to draft sleeves and collars  for the slopers we created in his  moulage class. Hopefully, finally getting a sleeve that fits me.  Unfortunately the first class is this Saturday and it's canceled.  KK takes the subway to a bus to get to Queens.  The subways are not running and there's no date for their reopening. They will delay the three session class a week.  If they reschedule the last class on December 1st, I can make it, but if its on December 8th, we are going to be out of town.  We're going to spend Chanukah with our grandson Jake. My son's birthday is that Monday, so for the first time in years we'll be with him for his birthday.  He wanted to know if I was going to make him his favorite pie.  Well, naturally.

But back to the jacket. Other than that,  it fits pretty well and it has the extra warmth that I wanted. If this winter is as warm as last year I'll be able to wear it all winter.
I had 5 lamb leather skins from a Fabric Mart sale last year.  One more skin would have been better.  The skins were uneven in quality and for all this work I'd have loved having better quality and better matched skins.  Live and learn.  The two previous leather garments I made were from skins I picked in NYC and they were much nicer.  More money of course but a bargain is not always such a bargain.
The lining is a rayon acetate from Emmaonesock and the interlining is red cotton flannel from Joann's.  The zippers are my favorite Riri from Pacific Trimmings in NYC.  I love the two way zipper I used. It works better than any I've ever owned and I can unzip the bottom when I drive so the jacket doesn't get bunched up.  You can now order them to custom size on their finally working website.  

I used regular Gutterman polyester thread and a leather needle. I've heard conflicting information on whether to use a leather or a regular machine needle and I've done both. I thought I'd see how I like the leather needle and honestly, for thin skins I didn't see a difference. I did use a  size 14 leather needle in my Viking 6010 for topstitching since it did work better on multiple layers.  I have used black jeans topstitching thread on this machine for many layers of denim with perfect stitching but it shredded on the leather. I switched to some Gutterman nylon upholstery thread which worked perfectly.  I did have to tighten the tension, something I don't have to do on with other fabrics,even denim.

There are lots of tutorials around right now on sewing exposed zippers, including a very nice one the last issue of Threads magazine, but not one of them shows a good way to install an exposed zipper in a seam with the tape underneath.  Treina was nice enough to point me to Tany's blog for a great tutorial.  I had to adapt it for leather since you can't hand baste but glue and tape are a good substitute.  I used blue painters tape, mostly on the wrong side since it's low tack, easy to remove and if you take it off promptly doesn't leave residue.  

I made lots of samples for the pocket openings and found that just stitching around the opening and cutting and pressing it to the wrong side worked the best.  On fabric I'd use some bias silk organza for this but leather doesn't fray and the corners were clean. I edgestitched to hold the zipper in place.

This sample is sitting on my granite remnant and is the perfect place for pounding edges.  I also used both my wooden June Tailor board for the curved seams and my well used point presser clapper for pounding straight seams.  I used barge cement to hold seams that I didn't topstitch.

What would I change?
Other than the armscye sleeve fitting issues I wish that I'd fitted the princess seam under the bust a little bit more. It's a little too boxy; a closer fit would be more flattering.  I also am not happy with all the topstiching. I used the low gear on my Viking but it isn't perfectly even, which wouldn't bother me in the back, but the stitching on one lapel isn't the same distance from the edge as the matching one.  In fabric I'd have ripped it out. Obviously I didn't have that option.
While I've made a lot of jackets over the years, I don't make that many and my skills are rusty.  Before I make any other leather projects I need to up my skills  to be truly happy with the results.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Surviving Sandy

It seems that we survived Sandy far better than many others on Long Island.  The power never went out, we have internet, had cable, (it went out in the middle of the night) which I am sure we can survive, and the damage was minimal.  We were very lucky.
I wish everyone well and hope that the power returns more quickly than the power companies are predicting.  

Friday, October 19, 2012

You know how obsessed I am about fitting so when Craftsy announced a new class about pants fitting with Sandra Betzina and a pants construction class I was interested, but I didn't think that I'd learn enough to justify spending  the money. Then someone on PR announced and linked to a Giltcity deal on either one class for $18 or 3 classes for $40 I couldn't resist. I bought the two Betzina classes and one on dyeing fabric a subject I know very little about but I've been wanting to try.  

I've been watching the fitting classes over the last few days and I was right, I really haven't learned that much but if you are struggling with pants fitting I  highly recommend it.  She's a bit disorganized in a very familiar way. Her worktable looks almost as cluttered as mine gets when I am working on patterns.  But, she's very good.  She showed rtw pants on 4 (I think) different people with very different bodies and pointed out what was wrong with the pants in each case.  Then she shows you exactly how to alter for each case.  The class also comes with an oop pants pattern of hers, the princess seamed pant which she fits. The seaming is a real boon for fitting, since you can easily take out or add in both directions.  She will also show how to transfer all of the changes to a regular pants pattern.  I have actually made a couple of pairs of pants out of this pattern and it is one of the easier pants patterns to fit.
If you haven't taken any classes on Craftsy it's a great format. You can ask questions and get  prompt answers.  SB also suggests that you post pictures of any fitting issues you are having  and she'll give you advice on solving them.  That's an unexpected bonus.
I don't think that the Giltcity deal is still available but I get bombarded with emails all the time offering deals on classes so be patient and the class you want will probably be offered at a discount.  
No, I have not finished my leather jacket yet, but I am slowly getting to the end.  Something about this project has slowed me down.  More like paralysis but it's coming. I refuse to sew anything else until I get it done!  
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Building on My Moulage with Kenneth King

You may  remember that I took Kenneth Kings Moulage class a couple of years ago.  If you are not familiar with the term, it's a basic bodice and hip in one piece drafted without ease.  Based on that we were able to draft slopers for a blouse and jacket.  These are very basic with out any design ease or style lines and no sleeves and collars. I really didn't know what to do with my slopers though, so other than using the muslin of my moulage  to pad out my dress form, the slopers have just been sitting in a drawer. But, guess what? I am taking a full day, 3 session class on collars and sleeves with Kenneth at Sew Right Sewing Machines in Bayside Queens the first 3 Saturdays in November.  There are still places if you are interested, but hurry because they only have 8 places.  He is also doing a fit clinic on November 11.  Oh, a prerequisite is having taken his moulage class, or having a moulage and slopers that you've drafted with his method.
KK sells cd's  for drafting a basic sleeve, advanced sleeve and collars.  Considering that each cd costs $28 plus shipping, add the cost of printing and binding them and  the 3 full day sessions with the master for  $250 seems like a bargain.  

I am behind on my leather jacket, and I may not finish the 4 pieces in time, but no matter. I had to make another muslin to get the sleeve fit right.  I've had issues with every coat and jacket I've made over the last few years with the armhole and sleeve fit. Playing around with the fit on fabric is one thing, leather is another. It has to be right the first time. Using Sarah Veblen's fitting book has really helped. The HBL,, or horizontal balance line makes a world of difference.  It really gives you a visual reference that can tell you where the problem is. I don't know about you, but reading the wrinkles has always been hit or miss for me. But a line that isn't parallel to the floor is easy to see and understand.  It took me all of yesterday to cut and fit the muslin, but it's worth it.  I not only have sleeves that fit but a better understanding of fitting, which I hope will help me fit a blouse for my dd.  We are seeing her the first weekend in October at my son's house and I'll be bringing a muslin for Vogue  8815 , the popular peplum top.  Coming with me is Veblen's book. 
Back to cutting out my jacket. I've got almost 2 skins cut and 3 to go before I can start sewing.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Color Blocking

While I am  fine tuning my leather jacket muslin I've also been playing around with ideas for a color blocked coat using my double sided black and blue fabric that I showed you a couple of posts ago. While  I was inspired by this gorgeous coat from Celine,(It's the coat on the right)

 I am not planning on adding any other colors, just using the fabric I have.  Drawing on my croquis was fun lots of fun; now I have to find a pattern that I can fit my idea onto. Actually, there are a number of simple coats in my back issues of Burda Style that should work.  My next project after the mini wardrobe was supposed to be a trench coat, which I really need and have all of the materials for.But I can't get excited about sewing one.  (I have had the fabric for this for several years and I even have a pattern but I keep putting it off) It just seems boring at the moment and a lot of work, while this coat feels like fun.

Here's what I've been playing with.  Which one do you like best? 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Fall Sewing, A Mini Wardrobe

I decided to enter the Pattern Review mini wardrobe contest.  I haven't made it official yet, nor have I made a storyboard up, but it's a great way to jump start my sewing mojo.  I always think that I will sew more in the summer than I do.  Without ac my sewing room can get hellishly warm and I don't work well in the heat.  Fortunately, it's cooled off and I am working again.  I finished 2 out of the four pieces required for the contest.  On Saturday in fact and wore them Sunday to a family birthday party on the lower east side.  
I've had this leopard print fabric for awhile now and the success of my black and white brocade pants was a deciding factor in making pants out of it. I love them and got complements.  I need more tnt patterns! Sewing becomes so much less involved when you always  have a lot of fitting alterations. I  did make  some style changes to the pattern. Narrow pants are very big right now and have been for awhile. Skinny cropped pants are not for me, but straight narrow pants look modern and slimming.  I took in  1/2" front and back, inseam and out, at both the hem and the knee and then blended the  seams for a total reduction of 2" at hem and knee.  I still have enough ease at the  calf so that I don't get the fabric hanging up there and it still hangs nicely in back.  The second piece is another Giorgio's top, which makes 3 for that pattern.  I haven't blogged about the yellow silk jersey version.  This fabric is another double layer textured knit from Emmaonesock. I love these fabrics. 

The remaining pieces I have planned are a leather motorcycle jacket  with  skins  from a Fabric Mart sale. 
I made another muslin of my Hot Patterns moto jacket and the verdict was to scratch it.  Even after KK had altered it.  I really just didn't like it on me and it needed even more changes.  So on to plan B.  I took out the pattern for my Oscar de la Renta knock off motorcycle jacket of a few years 
ago and used everything but the collar and the center front. 
Burda 12/09 110

 I took the center front from Burda 12_09 110 and lengthened the whole pattern to mid hip instead of high hip.  I decided to  narrow the overlap so that while it is still off center it  doesn't go all the way to the princess seam.   I felt that with my fba the seam was just too curvy 
That seam on me is very curvy for inserting a zipper. I added another seam on the left underlap for  the zipper.  I also raised the gorge line on the lapel, making it more horizontal and the zipper comes up higher before the lapel breaks.  Using Sarah Veblen's HBL on my muslin I realized that it dipped on the sides in the back, or rather the center was high. Age has set in and I need a rounded back alteration.  Not drastic, but it straightened out the line.  I also have found lately that I end up with my side seam flaring to the back.  I had Seth hold a plumb  line to my side seam at the underarm and he marked where it hit my hip.  The back hem needed an inch removed and  added it to the front. 

The fourth piece will be Burda 135 5/12,  a white blouse with a convertible collar with long sleeves.  I think that I am going to use black piping to trim it.  I've never done piping before, can you believe it? and it's been on my list of techniques to learn.  The white fabric is a luxurious cotton from B & J.  A  definite splurge.  My fba made the side dart way too big and so I rotated part of the side dart into a vertical one so that the fabric isn't falling from my bust. Much more flattering. I added back darts, but I think I will leave them unsewn.  I don't want it to be too fitted.  I added a center back seam so that I could alter for the rounded back and I shaped the cb seam 
at the waist at the same time.

My fifth piece, the key piece that can be made ahead, is a pair of black cotton pants I made last spring.  

Today's To Do List includes cutting and sewing up another muslin for my leather jacket and washing the white blouse fabric.  Fortunately I remembered that I had never washed it.  Woops.  

Monday, September 10, 2012

I Won This!

If you belong to the BMV Club you are familiar with the periodic fabric giveaways. If I like the fabric  I enter, but I never expect to win.  After all, as my son said when I told him I'd won, "We  never win anything"    The latest was fabric from Marcy Tilton, a woman whose website has gorgeous fabrics.  On the last day this lovely black and blue striped coating was offered.  It came on Thursday and it's perfect.  I thought that it was a regular stripe, but it's  more like a panel with wide blue stripes in a field of black.  The other side is reversed in this lovely wool blend double sided coating.  2 1/2 yds were  offered but when it came there was a long section that had been used for samples and a note from Marcy said that the usable fabric area started after that and was 2 3/4 yd.  Since it seemed longer than that I measured it and it's actually 3 yards plus the long uneven piece.  There are lots of ideas running through my mind for this piece   I can see color blocking by  cutting the stripe and sewing it back to make maybe two stripes sections of stripe, maybe on the lower sleeve.  It's definitely  lots of possibilities and I've already been sketching  The big decision is which side will I use?  Do I want black with a blue strip or blue with black stripes?  Well, I've got lots of time as it's pretty far down on the sewing list.  Yes, I have been sewing, just not blogging.  Now that the weather has turned  hopefully I'll be sewing more and blogging about it.  I've got 2 pieces done for my mini wardrobe for the PR contest that's running this month.  More on that later.

More storage ideas:

If you'll remember my dh came up with pvc pipe for rolling up my lovely 60" wide interfacing, saving it from wrinkling and making them easy to find.  He was up in the sewing room last weekend and decided that all those tubes were wasting space.  The shelf is high, but with the rolls laying on the shelf the room above them was wasted.  This is what he came up with.

He had a length of 4" diameter plastic pipe that fit the tubes and he cut it to length and fastened them to the shelf above.  He had to actually buy the black pipe, but it was cheap. I have room for more pipe if I need it, and look at all the storage room it opened up below the pipe.  How cool is that?  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More Fitting with Kenneth King.

A few women were envious that I have access to these fit clinics with Kenneth King. Well readers, he's making a fitting dvd for Threads magazine based on the series of articles he wrote awhile back on his fitting method.  Of course it won't be as good as actually having him adjust your muslin, but it should be useful as well as entertaining.

Eight women participated in the latest fit clinic with Kenneth King.  A couple had taken his moulage class and wanted to fit the blouse/dress sloper. Two women hadn't actually sewn up a muslin for the class. I guess they didn't read the preparation   instructions for the clinic.  One woman had brought the blouse she made up from her muslin from the last fit clinic. Unfortunately, she thought that she could just make it up without another muslin. Really not a good idea.  I was at that clinic and remembered how many changes KK made to her muslin.  She is a small woman and she was just swamped by the Lynn Mizono pattern for Vogue that she'd chosen.  He made it look much better than the original had looked on her but it still looked like the original.  I know that Vogue uses their own slopers for cutting designer patterns and the fit often ends up very different than the original shown.  Patterns tend to have a lot more ease than rtw and this style did not need more style ease!  
Only one woman had really extensive changes to make. She had a princess seam jacket that didn't meet at cf. Nothing daunts Kenneth and she ended up with a really well fitting muslin.  
The next two women brought muslins from Vogue patterns as well. One was a designer pattern and the other, shown here was an Easy Vogue, not my favorites.  They take too many shortcuts to get to the finished piece just to make it 'easy', often making it harder impossible for the sewer to get a professional fit and finish.  The pattern was the right size, but it was too boxy and had too much ease for her slender frame, something that is all too common in the big four pattern companies.   Patterns  are graded to fit a wide variety of bodies and sizes but smaller sizes need less ease than larger bodies which isn't taken into account by the pattern companies. From all the questions I've seen on Pattern Review about what the 'best' pants, dress, skirt pattern for their body type, a lot of women expect a pattern to fit  without having to make adjustments. This is, for most women an unrealistic expectation.    Fran brought this Vogue sheath dress because she thought that it would be a good tnt pattern; something she could make up in lots of different ways, a really good choice for her.  She's a slender woman with a good figure but this  didn't do her justice.  

He started at her shoulder, then started fitting her back.

KK  tucked the shoulder to bring up the dropped shoulder. She doesn't have narrow shoulders, but it was still too wide and there was  too much fabric.  He took in the back and front to slim the fit, blending in before he got to the hip, which fit well.  He then took in the front, above the bust. Simple adjustments that anyone can do. Just look in the mirror.  Well, more than that really.  We need to learn to  look at ourselves honestly and see what is really there, not what we wish was there.  During my marathon pants fitting journey I was constantly looking at how pants fit women I saw out in public. I thought about what was wrong with the fit and why.   Starbucks is a good place for this.  You sit, drink your coffee and you can see the rear ends of all the women on line for coffee. At least at the one I frequent.

Another woman, also slender, had this  Vogue pattern where the sleeve style, also a dropped shoulder, just had too much fabric for her. She even left off the lower sleeve which rolled and buttoned onto the upper sleeve.  Here King restyled the sleeve with a box pleat at the hem  for a more flattering look.  He also made some fitting open ended tucks  in the front to give the pattern more shape and match the open pleats used at the neckline. Sorry I don't have pictures of this. But, the point is that no pattern in sacred, no matter who the designer is.  KK doesn't just tweek fit, he makes judgement calls on style changes so that we ended up with flattering garments, the holy grail of sewing after all.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Another Fit Clinic with the Master

Recently I took another fit clinic with Kenneth King at Sew Right Sewing Machines in Bayside, Queens.  This is not a class on fitting, but a place to take your muslin and have Kenneth adjust your fit.  He transfers the changes to the pattern for you, explaining what he's doing  all liberally sprinkled with entertaining stories and useful tidbits.  He's just fun.  There were 3 women who had also attended the last clinic.  You do learn just by watching what he does but it is not a place where we fit under his guidance.

What did I have fit?  Jeans.  Yeah I still want to make my own.  I decided to go back and retrace the original Hot Patterns Dressy Jeans.  They were so over fitted by the time I threw in the towel  that  starting over seemed a good choice.  I made up two muslins and took the second one with me.  I was OK with the back but the front crotch was giving me  fits again.  He took a look at my back first and was kind of puzzled as to what I wanted. His comment was that jeans will buckle at the knee like this.  Then  I turned around and showed him the buckling and extra fabric there (this is not that easy to see in this photo, but trust me, there is too much fabric at the front crotch).  He turned back around, reached under my crotch and took a tuck.  The excess fabric in front had disappeared.  that's it.  I also had him place my back pockets.  I sewed up another muslin with the change and hopefully then I'll be able to make my own jeans.  Sewing up jeans is fun and  easy, it's just the fitting that's been a bitch.  I think that a lot of the issues I had where really of my own making.  Jeans just can't be perfect in back, especially on a woman with an ass as flat as mine!  But, I  think I can get a flattering pair, well I hope so.  
This is the muslin I took to KK.

This is the second pair after his alteration.  It's a lighter, stretchier fabric and it really needs to be a little looser I think.  I will not be wearing tucked in tops, so the narrow leg should be ok.  I know that if I try to get out the wrinkles in back I will end up over fitting again and not be able to sit down without having the center waist sit  too low to be comfortable or pretty.  The only other thing that I can do is make the pant a little wider in back, from above the knee down and see if they fall a little better.  Looking at them in photos, maybe I really need to make a slightly wider leg to begin with.  Hmm.  Maybe I'm not there just yet.  Note to self,  perfection is often an illusive object in fitting pants, especially jeans. Don't overdo it!

Now would someone tell me why some jeans sell for over $200? That doesn't even include the big fashion names whose jeans sell for over four or five hundred dollars.  Is the fabric that much better?  Is it the name?  Is the fit that much better?  I don't know. 

More fitting next time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Don't Miss This Opportunity to Give Your 2 Cents!

A lot of us have been pretty unhappy with Burda Style of late, especially their plus sized offerings.   I've certainly bitched about them all too frequently.  Now you can let them know exactly what you want.  They actually want to know!  Of course, this is the New York based Burda Style office and how much pull they have with the mother company is any ones guess.  But, still, don't miss this opportunity to voice your opinion. I certainly didn't.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

How Reliable Are the Experts, Really?

Why is it that people who criticize you  almost always post as anonymous? After my post on Mood I got this comment: "Hi, I am couture trained and find it interesting that you contradict others advise when you are predominantly self taught."
I can only speak for what works for me when I sew and couture trained or not I've been sewing for a lot of years which brings to bear a lot of experience. BTW, the training I have had was a year  of couture sewing lessons. Most of us who write sewing blogs are pretty opinionated and we  sew for pleasure and are not professionals.  but, that doesn't mean we have to agree with everything the so called experts say on a subject.  There are lots of ways to do  something in sewing and in my mind no one right way, only the way that works for you.  
When I was taking Kenneth King's fitting clinic I got to ask lots of sewing questions.  One of them was about, as he was fitting a princess seamed dress, Roberta Carr's book on couture sewing.  She asserted that the side panel, or weaker side was the side to have on top when sewing a princess seam.  This was contrary to everything I'd heard or read.  The side panel should be down against the feed dogs to ease in extra fabric often drafted into that seam.  The other was that the stronger or more stable side should be the side on top.  He paused a moment and said, he thought that Carr had often only absorbed part of what she had been taught, and no he didn't agree with her.  He was also rather disdainful of another highly regarded couture expert.  She doesn't sew was his comment.  
There have been a lot of books published on sewing lately and as with anything else, some are good and some just not worth your time or money.  Experts also contradict each other all the time.  Read some fitting books, like the one I just reviewed and then listen to Peggey Sagers and they have very different approaches to fitting.  I feel quite justified in having an opinion on a technique that contradicts some expert if it doesn't work for me, and I feel free say loud and clear.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Fitting, an Endless Journey

It often seems like that, doesn't it?  Learning to fit is a journey and along the way I've collected what seems to be every fitting book on the market and I still have issues figuring out  how to solve some of my fitting problems.  Enter a new fitting book, The Complete Photo Guide to Perfect Fitting by Sarah Veblen.  It already has a large number of favorable reviews over on  however, one of the reviews complains about it's lack of specific answers to her fitting problems.  But, to me that is the uniqueness of this book. There is no table of contents of fitting flaws, rather Veblen treats fitting in a much more organic fashion.  Every action we take to fit cloth affects the rest of the garment.  She teaches us to see the whole garment. To this end she introduces the HBL, or horizontal balance line.  It is drawn in perpendicular to the center front or the grain line.  It is always parallel to the floor.  This is not a new concept to me, but not something I've used.  But, after reading through her book, it's something I intend to start using.   I have found that fitting can be very hit or miss because there is often no frame of reference outside of the change being made.  Veblen's asserts that the HBL gives that reference and makes fitting that much easier.

This is a book that uses muslins for fitting.  More than one in fact.  Fitting is work and a process of training the eye first to see and recognize the problem. second, how to alter the cloth to get a good fit and third how to transfer the changes to your pattern.  To facilitate that Veblen gives us lots of wonderful, large format photographs that do a great job of showing  problems and how to fix them.  The text is well written and easy to understand.  She explains how she alters a muslin but more importantly, she explains why. Understanding  why should make it easier to learn how to fit anything or anybody. I am hoping that  her method will finally let  me work out some nagging problems I've had in my fitting.  Sleeves in particular come to mind and she covers this in detail.

 I really like that she doesn't approach fitting as a list, because inevitably that list is lacking in the one thing I need, which is probably why I have so many fitting books.    

Monday, June 4, 2012

Review Silhouette's Giorgio's Top

Silhouette's Giorgio's top.
This knit top is  based on a Giorgio Armani design. Sagers makes no excuses for copying rtw designs she likes.  It's a shoulder princess with dolman sleeves and a peplum hem.  It is offered in sizes 1-4 and 5w-8w.  The sizing is based on garment size not body size or rather you determine the size you cut by how much ease you like.  It also comes with separate pieces for B, C and D cup sizing.

Fabric used
This is a double layered nylon and lycra knit from Emmaonesock.  The texture is created by fusing section of the  layers and leaving other places unattached. This creates a jagged edge when cut, but it's better than the last one I used.  It also is not a hot weather friendly fabric because it's thick!  
What I Like 
I love the  peplum design, which  is very hot right now and I decided to make this my first Silhouette pattern. The dolman sleeves are cut nice and high and the angle of the sleeve keeps the excess fabric to a minimum, something that is very important if you have a large bust.  
With reservations.  I liked the style enough to work out my fitting issues and there were quite a few.  I am not a woman who can sew something right out of the envelope, but this had some surprises.  Whether they are consistent across the patterns I don't know.
What I didn't like
First of all I really don't get the sizing.  I've seen all her fitting webcasts and I still don't get it.  You are supposed to stretch knits around you to determine the ease.  I don't find this helpful.  Or you  measure the ease in similar garments in your closet.  Well what do you do if you one don't have anything similar or two, you've gained weight and you don't have anything that fits?!  She gives you bust and waist measurements for tops.  I don't really get why she doesn't give you a hip measurement as I think that that is much more useful than the waist, especially for a pear shaped woman.  I decided to cut the size 4 in the bust, and the D cup front.  I am a DD.  She also doesn't tell you how much bigger the cup size adds to the bust.  I figured that I wanted a negative ease of 4" and that the size 4 with the D cup front would give me that.  
I wrote Peggy and asked about my bigger hip and narrow shoulders and she said that the size 4 would work.  If you are a broad shouldered woman this would be perfect for you. I always have to narrow my shoulders.  On her webcasts she insists that her shoulders will fit you even in larger sizes.  The princess shoulder seam fell off my shoulders, and I had cut a size 3 in the shoulder.  Not only did the princess seam fall off my shoulder it fell off my bust by over an inch.  Yes, the seam should fall to the side of your bust point, but not that much!  All of the shaping was completely past my bust.  Not a good look.
The hip was too snug to give me that loose peplum fit.  I had added in case sas, but I did it at the side seams not at the princess seams where I really should have added it.  Good thing I made a muslin wasn't it?   Oh, it was also too long for me and I shortened the pattern by 2" not at the hem but below the waist.  
The front sleeve did not meet the length of the back sleeve by a good inch.  This happened in the muslin before I made a lot of changes so I don't think this was my fault.
I also didn't like that the neckline stayed the same and didn't lower with the sizes.  

What I changed
The first thing I did was to use the B cup and forget the D cup front.  I took  Shams method of determining the negative ease I wanted and I slit across the top to add what I needed to go over my bust. I added some ease to the side seam with a  curve to the side bust that I eased into the back.  I just stretched the back to fit. If you have a knit that doesn't have a lot of straight grain stretch you'll need to ease stitch the side bust.
I  cut the size 2 in the shoulders and then I moved the princess seam.  I added 5/8" to the side front and back and removed 5/8" from the center front panel.  Then I added to the hip at the front and back princess seams to give me enough ease to give me that lovely peplum.  The top on me was longer than on the model, who I assume is at least 5'8"  I am 5'5" and so I decided to remove 2" below the waist.  I also took in the right shoulder by 1/2" for my low shoulder and as you can see the shoulder fits nicely now.  I also lowered the underarm seam to keep the ease the same. Last, I lowered that neckline by a 1/2"

Would I sew this again?
Yes, I have already cut it out again in my yellow silk jersey. Because it's a little less stretchy I added some in case sas to the princess seams.  It was worth it to me to make the changes I needed to make this wearable.
Would I sew a Silhouette pattern again?  Yes, but only with a muslin. I still don't get her sizing and I haven't sewn a woven design yet.  If you have narrow shoulders you will definitely have to narrow them contrary to her assertion otherwise.  

See those blue cotton herringbone pants?  They looked great when I first put them on but this is after 2 days of wearing.  They are decidedly baggy.  Too baggy to suit me.  I took off the waistband in the back and raised the center back by 1" and the side seams by a 1/2" at each side seam.  I left them with enough ease to account for shrinking back when they are washed.  
I have the blue cardigan almost finished and my yellow top started.  Hopefully I'll have them finished shortly.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fun At Mood Fabrics

What's more fun than getting together with fellow sewers?  Getting together with fellow sewers to participate in a focus group, the subject being how to revamp Mood's website to be 'the' destination website for sewers.  There were some old friends there, Carolyn from Diary of a Sewing Fanatic , Elizabeth from SEWN and a couple of people I had met on PR shopping days.  There were also people whose work involved them in social media for their jobs.  Meg formerly of Lindsay T Sews was the moderator.  Many of you may know that she now works for Mood and she organized the group.  

Readers know that I have bitched loudly about Mood's website.  I love the store but the website is a frustrating experience.  They listened to our gripes and to our ideas on what the perfect website would look like.  Be patient, it's going to take about 6 months to get it up and running.  They aren't just revamping but starting from scratch.  There are some great fabric sites online, but no one has the resources that Mood does.  They want the website to be the destination for online shoppers, just as the store is a don't miss stop for out of town sewers and locals alike.  It was a fun time, unfortunately I couldn't stay to chat  but rushed off to catch my train or I was destined for the milk run if I missed it.  
BTW, the store has been getting revamped as well over the last year or so.  If you shop the garment district you know that most stores don't carry patterns or notions.  In other words you can't buy thread, zippers or buttons to match that fabric you just bought.  Mood has expanded to carry all the buttons, trims, zippers thread and almost any notion you'd need to complete your project.   
Of course I didn't  go in just to attend the focus group. It's about 2 hours door to door for me to get into the garment district.  I buy a lot of stuff online but there are a couple of places I like to visit in person that don't have websites.  I hit SIL to refill my zipper stash.  They have YKK zippers at about half the price of buying them at JoAnn's  You aren't paying for packaging so they can be a lot cheaper.  They have added a higher end metal zipper line in Excel.  Nice quality.  They also strangely, redecorated that aisle to look like a high end boutique in the midst of the bare bones of the rest of the store.  I found a mesh tape invisible zipper which is lighter in weight but they only have it black and white.  This is the place to find separating invisible zippers if you are in the market for one.  I also splurged and bought a gross each of hooks and eyes, in black and silver.  These are the heavy duty ones you put on pants or a skirt.  I have some that are no sew but I have a love hate relationship with them and would rather just use sew on hooks.  Of course I bought a few pieces of fabric.  I hit Metro Textiles which is not usually one of my regular places, but I was looking for inexpensive summer fabrics and I found two. Kashi of course would have liked me to buy more, but two was enough. On the right is a bottom weight cotton teal and black snakeskin for pants. You know how much I love an animal print!  It's pretty subtle though, which I like.  The white is a linen and rayon blend.  The black and white knit is from Elliot Berman is for a summer dress.  

Keeping these lovelies company are my sale purchases from Michael's half price sale.  The gray silk is much more gorgeous than you can see in a photo; that I'll put away until fall and the royal blue Zegna cotton will be another pair of pants for my blue collection. 

 By the time I got to Mood I was a bit shopped out, but there will always be another day.  

Friday, May 18, 2012

Do You Wear White Jeans?

I saw this post this morning on the website Keep It Chic on loving white jeans.  The images struck me as fresh and appealing.  Of course the pictures show two size 0's or there about wearing these white outfits.  I like Gwyneth's look better. It's less studied and more practical for the mother around town.  White cotton is good since I'd need to bleach these on a regular basis being a wear my food type of person.  But the question is really can you wear these at any size?  Probably not in this skinny extreme, but in a style suited to your body?  Are a pair of white jeans in your future? Would you wear an all white outfit or wear them more casually like Gwyneth?  

I liked Peter's blog yesterday commenting on pinups. Real women  with more meat on their bones like most of us, certainly as we age.  It's been hammered into us that we need to wear dark bottoms to 'hide' our hips.  Well these hips are hard to hide no matter what the color.  I am really considering buying a pair of white jeans, or making a pair if I ever get my jeans pattern worked out!  How about you?  Are you so concerned about looking thinner that you would never wear a pair of white jeans or are you ready to embrace the body you've got and damn the fashion magazines?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Sewing Outside the Box

With color that is.  Almost everything in my wardrobe can be worn with black or gray.  I have one pair of brown tweed pants and a few things that go with them, but that's it.  Last year or maybe it was the year before I bought this lovely blue and white herringbone bottom weight  cotton from Zegna at one of Michaels fabulous half price sales.  The only problem is that the only thing in my wardrobe that it would go with are a few white knit tops and they are pretty shabby.  Since I really wanted to make a pair of pants with the fabric I needed to build a plan around it.  A capsule wardrobe would do, and  all of the tops will actually go with other things in my wardrobe, so double duty.  
Color blocking is big news this season and that was my starting point, that and everything except the paisley below was in my stash.  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Do You Staystitch?

When I get a new pattern I immediately, well as soon as possible, start reading the instructions.  I know sewing nerd here.  I don't always use the instructions but I like to see if there are any surprises or I make notes on how I want to change things. Usually I make notes on where I will change sas on Vogue patterns. I trim the enclosed seam allowances to 3/8 and add in case sas to the side seams. Then I note the sewing order, not necessarily writing it down but I never sew in the order they advise.  I like to group details and sew everything I can before I get up to press.  The first one I looked at  is this Vogue  top.
I knew from the notions list that they call for packaged bias tape.  I'll make my own.  Wouldn't it be nice if they mentioned making your own and how to do it?  But, no this is an Easy Vogue pattern and I guess they deem it too hard.  But I digress, the topic of this post is do you stay stitch and before they  get to the binding, they tell you to stay stitch the neck edge.  I don't do this anymore.  I used to when I remembered and then for the most part I just stopped.  I still  do it for opposite curves like a very curvy princess seam that I have to clip, but mostly I don't stay stitch anymore.  I don't think it keeps a seam from stretching.  I'd be more inclined to stay a bias edge with tape, interfacing or a piece of thin 
fabric.  I also see directions for stay stitching a knit neck edge.  This I really don't get.  I do do this with Lynda Maynard's knit binding method, but I use interfacing on the neck edge first and the stay stitching is a placement guide for the binding.  
If you've been watching Peggy Sagers webcasts she is vehemently opposed to stay stitching and other archaic home sewing methods.   I feel vindicated in my laziness!
How about you, do you stay stitch and if you do when do you do it?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Sewing

Vogue came out with new patterns this week and I managed to buy a few on sale.  I missed the last day of the regular sale but gave in and bought a Club BMV membership. They have finally included 15% off on Marfy patterns which was an incentive. With the decline of Burda's offerings I am having to branch out and sew more Vogue.  I used to sew Vogue almost exclusively until I was introduced to Burda World of Fashion, as it was then called.   Times change and the new direction at Burda Style mostly doesn't work for me.  I was hoping that the excellent May issue was a turning point but the previews of June are pretty dismal.  I also bought two dress patterns from Hot Patterns catching their 20% off sale, which runs through the end of the month.  I run hot and cold with them. The fitting seems to so uneven across the line.   That's one of the things I've loved about Burda, the fit consistency was better than average.  I love wearing easy dresses in the summer.  We don't have ac and the loft I work and sew in gets pretty hot.  Dresses are comfortable and cool.  I was looking for semi fitted dresses and decided on these two.  The Plain and Simple Dress and Top for some lovely linen I've got and maybe even a casual LBD in some silk linen blend I have. 
I have two pieces of fabric in search of a dress and I think that this one will fill the bill, finally.  The shorter version with the v neck would work for me better than the round neck or the maxi dress. I can see that one getting caught in the wheels on my chairs. 

How many unmade patterns do you own?  I have quite a few, but that doesn't count the Burda Style magazine patterns I haven't made.  The cheap sales make it easy to succumb to patterns that really don't either work for our bodies or our lifestyles.  I've been trying to be more discriminating lately so that I might actually make them up!
Here are my picks.  This is not to say that I didn't like some of the others quite a bit, but these meet my criteria of fitting my lifestyle and being flattering or at least having the potential for looking great on me.  I am very careful to buy patterns that work on  my body, not patterns that I love but won't love my body. All those unmade patterns in my drawers have taught me a lesson.  Finally.

The round neck on this isn't the best for me, but I wanted the 3 piece sleeve and the jacket instructions.  I will have to take a look at Chanel and see how I can change this to make it more flattering for me.  I don't think that I'll get to this one until late summer for fall.

I wasn't interested in the fuller top, but this princess seam version looks interesting as well as flattering.
Finally, I bought this peplum blouse a style I've been looking for to knock off a blouse I have up on my idea board.  I like the second view in this one as well.  The high round neck has to change though.
I've got fabric in my stash for most of these and that's good for the budget.  
Add pants from my tnt pattern, a skirt or two and at least one more cardigan and you have  my spring sewing goals.  The leather jacket is on hold till summer for fall. I've got some reservations about the neckline on that one so I'll have the summer to decide.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Never Ending Quest

Hubris does come back to haunt you and in the case of making jeans it's certainly bit me on the ass.  I was so sure that I could make a better fitting pair than the jeans from Net a Porter I posted some time back.  Quite a while back. 

I started out with copying a rtw pair that was too small but I thought had fit me nicely.  Enlarging them seemed to focus on how they really hadn't fit as well as I thought they had.  I guess I was just willing to accept less perfection from a pair that was really just ok as long as I didn't have to make them.  The front was fine, but the back had my usual problems due to a flat low seat.
I chucked those and decided that of the many jeans patterns I owned I'd make the Hot Patterns dressy jean.  It had that L shaped crotch that fit me and after all my tnt pants started out as the Razor Pant from Hot Patterns.  Enter many, many muslins and two pairs that were supposed to be finals.  The  black corduroy I posted were great in the front, but way too short in the back and pulled down uncomfortably. The  pants ended up with a really pointed back crotch and when I cut it off it made the back crotch too short, and if I didn't cut it off it made the front crotch look like this:

This is what the back crotch ended up looking like as I tried to get more room in the back crotch so that the pants wouldn't pull down when I sat.  

The back didn't look bad, unless you count the fact that they were just too low at the waist.
I've put them aside for the time being while I figure out what I want to do.  I've gotten so far from the original pattern, which by the way also had this very point back crotch, that I am considering starting over with another pattern.  But not now.  It's taken too much of my time and a lot of denim.  I need clothing for spring and summer so I am going to give it a rest and try again later.  I may even go shopping and try to find a pair that I can live with.
If anybody has a pattern recommendation that works for a flat low rear end do let me know.

I leave you with my pile of rejects and this isn't even all of them!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Variations on a Theme Part II

Lots of sewing has been going on, mostly for  my unexpected trip to Austin to see Alex and spend her birthday together. My wonderful husband surprised me with tickets and I was there last week during prime wildflower viewing.  The bluebonnets were spectacular.  After she picked me up at the airport we went to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower center.  It's a must see if you are in Austin.  I've always wanted to see the blue bonnets in bloom and this year they've had some respite from the drought and the wild flowers were everywhere.  Here we are in a field of blue bonnets at the Center.  I've got on another version of my tnt t shirt in a coated gold knit.  It's not like the metallic knits that I've gotten from EOS where the yarns are metallic, but it seems to be a printed light metallic gold on a beige rayon knit.  Not as drapey but nice for a t shirt.  I'm wearing it with a new pair of black pants from my tnt pants pattern not that you can see them all that well here, but there's nothing different from the last 6 pairs. It's fast and easy to make garments from a tnt pattern and I choose to make a very simple fly front pant without details that add to my hips.  However, these are a cotton lycra and  cut them out with a pair in a cotton acetate brocade without lycra and the non stretch pair fit better, perfect in fact.  It just proves that you really do have to fit as you sew even if you've made the pattern a dozen times.  Every fabric sews up differently.  

I've been trying to sew from stash lately but this brocade was a new purchase from a recent FM sale.  Half off a selected group of brocades and this one caught my eye.  The black and white floral looked very current.  I am wearing it with a top from Tom and Linda Platt in matte jersey from a few years back and another version, this one in a scrumptious cashmere knit from Mood, of Pamela's Pattern drape front cardigan.  I got a lot of use out of this cardigan all week starting out with wearing it over my gold top and black pants from the first picture.  A cold front had come through and it was in the chilly most of the day.  Here I am in front of the bat sculpture next to the Congress Street bridge before we went down to see the bats fly out at dusk from their perches under the bridge.  Pretty cool sight. Austin has the largest urban colony of bats in the world.  

I made two pairs of pants, the gold t shirt and the cardigan for my trip.  They all fit very well in my wardrobe and I wore the cardigan here over pants and a couple of tops from last year.

I took some pictures before I left but never had a change to post.  They are more variations on a theme.  

My completed Missoni cardigan.  I am wearing it with my Hot Patterns dressy jeans in black corduroy.  I am not completely thrilled with these pants.  The front is great, the back I over fitted and it pulls down at the cb.  I am going to make another pair in denim and see if I can't tweek them a bit to fit better.  

You saw this twin set on my dress form.  I think it looks better on me.  Same jeans.

The last piece I made was this nightgown from my tnt t shirt and a beefy cotton knit from EOS.  This has been one of the best things I made this winter because I really needed it and it's wonderful to sleep in.  It is hard and expensive to find a simple, long sleeved nightgown and my dh had been nudging me to make one for months. 
I leave you with a picture of Alex and I out to dinner on her birthday and a close up of the Tom and Linda Platt top Vogue 00P. I don't know why I haven't made another one in a washable fabric because I love it. (this one is in rayon matte jersey).

It was a wonderful trip; a time to see Austin and spend 'girl' time with my daughter.