Sunday, November 28, 2010


I have done one SWAP and one wardrobe and not finished several others.  I also swore off entering any more contests, but this one on Stitcher's Guild is interesting.  There are the usual 11 pieces  but every top doesn't have to go with every bottom which can be very artificial at times.  Instead they have to constitute a collection, which is how I sew anyway.  The twist is that each piece that I sew has to have a technique that is either new to me or that I have not yet mastered.  Because that could be fairly time consuming 3 pieces can be purchased or sewn previously.  So, I only have to sew 8 pieces. Here are the wardrobe options:

Option #1:
6 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
4 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

Option #2:
2 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
6 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
2 bottoms - jeans, pants, shorts, skirts or kilts.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

Option #3:
5 dresses -single pieces consisting of top and bottom that can be worn alone.
4 tops  - t-shirts, shirts, blouses, or camisoles
1 bottom  - jeans, pants, shorts, skirt or kilt.
1 your choice (not an accessory)

3 garments may be purchased or previously sewn.
1 may be knitted or crocheted.

Now here's your twist:

Every garment should be made with a technique or feature that you haven't tried, or haven't mastered.  My personal Waterloo is zippers -hate 'em, because I have to take them out and redo them at least once, every time.  And there are several things I've sampled, but have never used on a garment -slotted seams, for one.

That doesn't mean every garment should have a zipper, if that's what you have trouble with.  But at least one should.  And if you never mastered buttonholes, at least one garment should have one.  If you've never made a flat-felled seam, now's the time. Smiley

Because this will be more challenging, I'm allowing one more garment to be purchased so that everyone can be pretty sure to finish in time.  I know last year was more fussy, but this year will be more apt to have pieces that need to be redone, or may even cause a wadder or two.  So to offset that, the total number of garments to be made is one less.

Ordinarily I would be drawn to the first option.  I usually sew tops and bottoms, but I have been wanting to sew some more dresses lately.  My summer dresses were fun to wear and comfortable. So option two sounds like a possibility.   I'd make a jacket or cardigan that can go over most of it, though in this contest it wouldn't have to match everything.  

Now for the new or not mastered techniques. this is the list I've come up with so far.
Blouse with collar and stand
jeans with a flat felled seam
learning how to finally  bind a neckline with my coverstitch binders.
channel quilting
slotted seams
leather binding on a sweater
couture pants ala Claire Schaeffer
Facing to the outside
Neckline placket for a blouse
Spanish snap buttonholes
Combining leather and fabric, though I don't know if this one would count

What techniques do you want to master?  I feel like I've gotten lazy lately with my sewing; only doing fairly easy things and not pushing myself.  The question is, do I want to learn several different techniques, or work on some of the larger projects I've had planned, like my trenchcoat.  I really keep putting off doing this.  I haven't even traced the pattern out yet.  Do I need 11 new garments in my wardrobe, or do I need a trenchcoat, because lets face  it the trench is  a big project. 


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Latest Pants Finished

Now that I have a good tnt pants pattern to work from sewing a pair of pants is a pretty simple thing.  I don't have to play with fit so I've been concentrating on finish.  I sew a simple pair of pants without details at the hip or waist.  With my full high hip and pear shaped figure I don't want to add any bulk to that area, hence simple pants.  What I have been working on is getting the inside to look nicer.  I don't sew a zipper facing.  I don't like the bulk.  I do like using petersham to face my waistbands.  Especially in wool it's is very comfortable.  I interface the outer band with fusible weft leaving it out of the seam allowances which gives a firm straight edge to press the top seam allowance down. when I press under the outer edge  and it  helps line up the petersham as well.  The fabric is a wool and lycra houndstooth from Mood. 

You'll notice that the waistband is extended with the end turned back so that that edge will be finished.  I've lined up the petersham, which is 2" wide, just below the pressed fold.  Both ends of the waistband are extended so that the seam is not at the end of the band.  This gives a flatter, crisper finish.  It's best to make sure that the underlap side is a bit shallower than the overlap so that it is covered when you fasten the pants.  There are several different construction orders for sewing pants, but my order is as follows:
Sew darts and fly front.  Then I sew the inseam and baste the rest of the center back.  I pin the outseams and try it on with some 1" elastic.  I'd be better off having a muslin waistband to baste on, which I plan on making up to have in the studio.  After adjusting the fit (every fabric seems to fit a bit differently) I undo the back basting and sew up the side seams.  I apply the waistband in two pieces sewing the outer band to my pants.  Then I apply the petersham.  I sew the centerback next from the previous sttiching to the top of the unfolded petersham.  I fold it down and stitch in the ditch.. Sew on hooks and hem.  Done.
I actually finished these a couple of weeks ago and have been wearing them quite a bit.  They are  comfortable as well as a being a good fit.  Of course, isn't that part of fitting well?

I have to give credit to Lindsay for her instructions on how to photograph your clothing on the  flat.  I didn't drop out the outside though.  To lazy to spend the time in Photoshop.  I used a roll of white paper and laid it out under the skylight in my sewing room, a footstool placed me high enough above the pants.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Learning to Sew

It's been a long time since I first started sewing.  I relied on  patterns for teaching me to sew at first.  I had some advice from my grandmother, but she had stopped sewing long ago and she didn't really teach me to sew.  I do remember her showing me how to lay out a pattern and she gave me her Singer to use, but other than that?  I pretty much learned how to sew on my own.  My mother didn't sew and no one I knew sewed.   I don't remember why I wanted to learn to sew  but I did while neither of my sisters sew.  
My first and only sewing mentor was my neighbor  at the  first house we owned after I got married.  She sewed everything including suits for her 3 sons.  She showed me how to do a lot and gave me  a copy of the  Vogue Sewing book, my first sewing book which is not only still on my shelf but I still use it occasionally.   I taught myself how to hand tailor a jacket with that book.  Nothing was too difficult; I'd try anything, especially  if it was a Vogue designer pattern.  When my son was about 3 I heard about a store up in St James that not only carried fabulous fabrics, but the owner gave French Couture sewing lessons.  Maybe not so couture, but it was the first time I had real instruction from a really accomplished seamstress.  I learned a lot.  Over the years I've built a library of sewing books that I can look to to figure out how to do almost anything.  I love books and long before the internet I learned how to  find  out how to sew just about anything I wanted,  Which brings me to the point of this post.  I willingly give a lot of my time and knowledge to  people on PR, whether it is my fitting opinions or how to sew something.  Lately I've gotten a bit less willing to share.  No I will not come and do an fba for you in your home.   I don't have anyone to help me pin either, though I will confess that my dh will mark  a hem for me.  I am willing to give of my time, stop being so negative!  It's not magic, just work and perseverance.  You have to put the time in to get the benefits just like any other skill.  A lot of hours and repetition  go into learning how to sew.  There is no easy way.  
Ok, end of rant. 
Have a lovely Thanksgiving everyone.  We will be blessed to share Jakob's first Thanksgiving. I am counting the hours.

Monday, November 8, 2010

New Outfit

Finally, my latest outfit is done. I've been working on planning and sewing groups of garments instead of just pieces.  Here I've sewn  a long sleeved simple t , pants and a  cardigan to pull it together.  The pants are a tweed of an unknown blend from Marcy Tilton.  I think  it has at least a bit of wool after getting a whiff of burnt hair during my burn test.  They are  my tnt pattern using a straight waistband that I shaped to ease it over my full high hip.  I also split it at the back and faced it with 2" wide Petersham ribbon as per David Coffin's pants book.  The Petersham is shaped as well,  as I am doing below  in  the pants I am working on now.

In Lynn MacIntyre's book Easy Guide to Sewing Pants, one of Taunton Press's Easy Guide series, she says to place your waist seam half the width of your waistband below the waist.  In figure like mine with a full high hip this steaming and shaping really helps it fit over my hip smoothly.   I wish that she had had this fabric in other colors because I've been living in them ever since I finished them.  They don't wrinkle much and they are so soft, warm and comfortable.
Both the t and the cardigan are drafted  from my Vogue 8151 tnt t shirt.  The  long sleeved t is in a luscious wool and rayon knit that I picked up at one of my recent visits to Elliot Berman.   The cardigan is a cotton sweater knit from Emmaonesock and it's trimmed in some leftover wool jersey.  I don't love this fabric.  It's a bit flimsy but I do like how it looks with the top and tweedy black pant.
I used to sew my 'good' clothing and then I'd never have anything to wear for everyday.  Now I plan and sew my everyday clothing as mini wardrobes and I have lots to wear for my real life.

Right now I am making another pair of wool pants as it's turned rather cool and damp and I like being warm!  They are   wool in a mini houndstooth bought when Sigrid was here, in fact we both bought the same fabric at Mood.  I had seen a Ralph Lauren ad with a mini houndstooth pair of pants and a larger houndstooth sweater, rather like  the sweater above so I'll wear the cardigan with these pants too.

Storing that fabulous and wide interfacing from Sew Exciting.
I've been buying interfacing from Pam Enry in 3 or 5 yd pieces and at  60" wide,  a challenge  to keep unwrinkled as I unfold , cut a piece and refold it .  Seth, that champion scrounger, came to my rescue.  He  had lengths of plastic pipe about 1 1/2" in diameter and he cut them to fit my interfacing.  I can unwind what I need and neatly re roll it after wards.  I also taped Pam's labels to the end of each roll. Now I actually know what interfacing I am using.  How cool is that?