Sunday, February 28, 2010


I've been scouring the internet for inspirations for my spring wardrobe.   Net a Porter is one of my favorite sites because I can really zoom in and see the details and they are not so youth oriented as are some of the other sites.
I like this Roberto Cavalli jacket.  I think that I've found a Patrones pattern that I can use for this.  I may even have a fun silk lining left over from a coat I made a few years ago.  I have black cotton from a Michaels sale for this one.
I like the exposed zipper on this.  I've been looking for a dress pattern to use some great black and white silk I bought last year when Textile Studio was closing down.  She really had some gorgeous fabrics.   I need some sleeves though.
I have some black and white zebra print silk that I want to use for a blouse.  In a recent Burda, and of course its not up on the website yet, they had a lace front tunic that I think will work for it.  I also want to make a couple of cotton  blouses.  I am getting tired of sewing knits. 
For bottoms I'm planning a pencil skirt or two and of course, pants.  I need pants to match that tan linen jacket I made last year. 

Right now I am working on a pair of jeans from the January issue of Burda.  They are almost finished and I have never  gotten so close to perfect so easily, or at least not in a long time.  I hope to finish those today.   

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Alex's Jacket

It's finished and in the mail to Korea, along with  5 pounds of lovely, parve or dairy free chocolate bars for my lactose intolerant daughter.  She is sensitive to even small amounts of dairy and since moving  down to Busan from Seoul she hasn't been able to find any.  My friend is frequently in Queens where Kosher food stores abound and she  found  lovely Swiss and Belgian chocolate bars.  It should last Alex quite a while.  It cost almost as much to ship it as the chocolate cost(a lot), so this will be her birthday present this year.  Along with the jacket.  I will not embarrass myself by admitting  how long it's been a UFO, but suffice it to say, I should have finished it long ago.  We picked out the fabric at Mood and it is a lovely wool and cashmere blend130 suiting from England.  The lining is a silk charmeuse. I have some pictures of it hanging because obviously this doesn't fit me and I'll have Alex take some pictures wearing it when she gets it.
The pattern is Burda 117 4/07.  Burda describes it as short and fitted with witty pockets.  It's also a 'perky petite' and at 5'3" Alex is petite,  but I still had to shorten the sleeves and narrow the shoulders.  I don't think of Alex as having narrow shoulders, but these were too wide.  I cut a size 17 and made an fba, and removed the extra  from the waist and hips.
I made a number of style changes  for her jacket.  The original strange hanging pockets.   I evened out the cf and side front and made a basic princess seamed jacket to which I added pockets. I also added vents to the sleeves.
She wanted a short,  classic fitted jacket, which  is what she got.

You want to know if about the instructions?  Laughable, worse than usual for Burda.  I don't really need much in the way of  instructions when making a jacket but I did use the Threads article I mentioned in an earlier post for the lapels and the Judy Burlap article for the sleeve vents.  If I need instructions I love the Taunton Easy Sewing series, I have all of them and I highly recommend them.  I've used the Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets, by Cecelia Poldolak  a lot over the years just using the Threads article for sewing collars and lapels.  It's not a book for hand tailoring, but if you want to speed tailor,  it's great.  Since Burda almost never gives a lining pattern, it's also great for drafting one. I don't usually use a lining pattern anyway, since I make a lot of alterations and it's just easier to adapt the altered pattern pieces than starting from scratch on a lining pattern. 


The back could use a bit more pressing, but she'll need to get it pressed when it gets to Korea anyway.
I didn't bag the lining, ie sew in completely by machine.  I completely machine stitch the lining and sew it to the jacket facings, but after I've applied them to the jacket.  I think that this gives me more control especially for the collar and lapels.   The lining is then hand stitched to the  jacket hems.  I think that while this is more time consuming, I get more control here too.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Pass

Thanks everyone for your input.  Nope, I'm not buying it.  For two reasons, one that Brigitte pointed out, it's not my style!  Duh!  I am not a romantic dresser, and this one has that floaty, romantic quality that I would pass by if I were in a store.  The second,as my lovely daughter pointed out, it would add twenty pounds by falling straight off my rather large bust.She made the same point about herself.  Thin she may be, but she has a large bust too.  Maybe it's partly that Hot Patterns has the best illustrations  that make me believe that I can look  fabulous in their designs, and hey sometimes they  really  do that!  Just not this one.  Don't let me stop you from buying this, but be honest about why you want it and if it has those qualities that will make it flattering on you.  Here's a great little post for dressing the plus sized woman.  While I am not plus sized, I am at the upper end of regular sizing and I thought that this was appropriate for me too.  Inside Out Style    I have Imogen on my blog roll, but for some reason the link dies.  She has a great blog, so check it out.          .
I've been making progress on Alex's jacket, but I've been a little under the weather and haven't been sewing all that much.  All that remains is to  finish the lining and sew it into the finished jacket shell.  The jacket is a Burda petite which is good, but it is shorter in length only.  I don't think of Alex as having narrow shoulders, but I did have to narrow the shoulders, and regular hangers are too big for it.  Fortunately I had some kiddie hangers left hanging around.  They are a bit too small, but better than nothing.  Alex is a Burda size  17 in petite or a 34 in regular sizes.  I have to make an fba for her and then take in the waist.  We had a skype chat yesterday and I held up the jacket for her.  She was excited, now I have to finish it and send it off.  


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Should I or Shouldn't I


Pattern seduction.  Hot Patterns sent me an e mail the other day with this reissued 'vintage' blouse pattern. It's even on sale. Is this one of those times when I love the pattern and succumb to it even if it will look like shit on me?  I really like this blouse.  I see it in lightweight summer fabrics that are perfect for, hot  humid Long Island weather.  It's loose design is perfect for that, but loose isn't necessarily my best look.   Those pleats are destined to make my bust look bigger I fear.  I even like the ties,  though I always see ties as young and again, something that adds weight to my figure.  What do you think dear reader, should I buy it or not?  If I buy it is it destined for the seduction pile that never gets made?

Monday, February 8, 2010


Just a quick  post today.  Several people have asked me about my iron, so here goes.  I am on my third Rowenta iron.  The latest one started to spit a bit and I decided that I'd had enough of expensive Rowenta irons that just didn't seem to last so I looked for an alternative.  The next to last died in the middle of a project and I ran to Jo Ann's and bought a new one.  When you need it now, there is never much in the way of choice, at least not out here.  At the time, and actually there is one going on now, there was a discussion about irons on Pattern Review.  Gravity feed, versus steam generator.  Enough people that I knew and respected, well internet buddies, liked the gravity feed iron.  It has a large water  reservoir that hangs above the iron, hence the gravity feed name. You will either have to put a hook in the ceiling or have something else to hang it on. It has to hang at least 3' above the iron.   The iron is smaller than those that hold water and heavier too. This one weighs 5 pounds I think and it gives off lots of steam.  I bought the Consew CES 300, one of the least expensive at $100.  I don't recall where I bought it, but places like Atlanta Thread and  Cleaners Supply sell them online.  There are other places as well.  You have to use it with a package of de ironizing granules and need to  replace them when they turn all brown.  They will not fix this one and I don't think that they sell parts, but I leave this on for hours when I am sewing and it's fine after over a year of use.  It takes longer to heat up, about 5 minutes than your lighter household iron.   If you have more money to spend there are some other brands that sell for about $300 and they do have parts available. 
If you are tailoring with wool the amount of steam produced will make you never want to return to a household iron again.
Caveat.  It comes with a silicone rest but if you leave it on for hours, the board you have it on will get hot.  I put the silcone pad on a quarry tile for safety.
Would I buy one again?  Yes, without a doubt.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Progress on Alex's Jacket, or Getting it Done so that I can Sew For MYSELF!

Before I get to Alex's jacket, I have to give kudos to my brilliant husband.  While sewing last night my gravity feed iron stopped steaming.  Still hot, but no steam.  I turned on my Rowenta and let the gravity feed cool down for dh to look at.  9 pm he comes upstairs.  9:05 its fixed.  He turned it on, clicked the steam button and no clicking sound.  This means nothing to me, but to dh, it means that the solenoid is not making contact.  He took a screwdriver and tightened everything up and voila, it works!    Thank you Seth!  It may have been the cheapest gf iron available, but it gives off way more steam than my Rowenta ever did and I love it.  Between the steam and its weight it really beats fabric into submission, especially useful for tailoring.

Collar and lapels done, sleeve vents finished and undersleeve sewn.  I still have to hem them,  sew the side seams and of course set them in. The hardest parts of the jacket, the collar and lapels is done.  I used to have much more trouble getting a lovely notched lapel until I I found one of my favorite articles in Threads, where else.  For those of you who have recently purchased that DVD compilation take a look at the Foolproof Notched Collar by Jan Schoen .  It's  in the Dec 96, January 97 issue.  It really is foolproof and easy.

You get well done, flat  lapel and collar intersection with out any bubble.  The collar is easy too.  Understitiching is used in both cases to throw the seam to the underside.  The understitching is broken at the lapel roll line so that when you turn it everything stays where it's supposed to.  

Judy Burlap's 'The Elegant Mitered Vent' is just that , elegant and perfect without any angst involved.  You do need to start in the pattern stage, but it can be easily altered for length at the fitting stage.  Threads DVD owners or those of my readers who have collections of Threads, its in the December 99, January 2000 issue.  Judy Burlap has an article in this months Threads on Japanese tailoring.  Like the sleeve vent it needs to be started with some changes in the pattern stage.  I am going to try it on the next jacket, but this one was already cut out.  Both the vent extension and the hem are 1 3/4" deep.  The vent extension and the hems are interfaced and pressed into place.  Where the hems intersect I made a tiny clip which I lined up in the next step.

I lined the clips up and the intersection of the pressed hems.  Stitched it and then pressed it open on my point turner and then flat.  Not trimming at all.  You can see it turned right side out and then lined up with the under sleeve.

As you can see the method produces a lovely flat vent.   It's all done by machine, with no hand sewing at all.  This is part of Burlap's Japanese tailoring method; to produce beautiful results purely by machine.  If I had wanted to, this would be then, while the sleeve is still flat and before the under vent is attached to the upper sleeve, to put in buttonholes.  I am not pressing my luck with my machine buttonholes and I'll just attach the buttons.  She recommends a vent of between 3 and 4 inches.  I've left this at 4 because I am using 3 buttons for the vents.  
Tonight I'll finish the pockets, attach them, sew the side seams  then set my sleeves. 
Happy sewing.