Tuesday, October 11, 2011


While I've sewn a lot in the past couple of weeks I have nothing to show for it or rather nothing to wear for it.   Not fun.  I put aside my  jeans until more cheap inexpensive denim arrives from Fabric.com. (and I needed a break) and   cut out  the draped hem top from the new Hot Patterns pattern 1130. I knew that the  armhole was way too low and I raised it.  Just not enough. The pattern envelope shows  the sleeves as nice and narrow and the underarm  cut high.  Not the case.  The pattern has other issues.  For one it's way too big, for another the center front hem is much longer than the back.  Not at all what it looks like on the envelope where it  falls at mid hip, which it does in the back but not in the front.  The neckline is also much lower than the illustration, which is the least of it's problems.  I took up the shoulders about an inch which partially solved the armscye issue and raised the neckline.  (the underarm is at least 2" too low) Now of course I have to change the sleeve.  It's still too long in the front but I was unsure how to change it.

The pattern hem  is actually straight across the bottom but it comes out a good  6 inches  longer at center front in a long curve.  That giant dart seems to be the problem.  I am playing around with the top on my  dressform.  The back on which I made a narrow back adjustment, fits perfectly.
This is what I came up with.  I took out a 3" dart on either side of the dart, the one on the right is perpendicular to the center front and the one on the seft is perpendicular to the waist, stretch line.   This still isn't enough but if I take it up any more there I'll no longer have the drape at the hem.
I figure that I will hem the center deeper.   Only because I love this style am I willing to put so much effort into a simple knit top!

The cowl bottom top?  Not willing to go the extra mile for it.  It's way too long, the underarm is too low as well (they all use the same back) and as you can see, the neckline is also lower than the illustration.  I added a dart to this top but it's too low and if I was going to make this I'd raise it up.  But I'm not.  It's just not right for me. 

One thing I learned from this experience is that making a muslin for a knit is quick and easy.   It took longer to trace the pattern than to sew it up.  I always avoid muslins for knits  because  knits are so much more expensive than a bolt of muslin and they are all so different in stretch and recovery.   However, I have a lot of knits in my stash that I am never going to use (this one was very thin and it wasn't expensive) that I can use them up making muslins and reduce my stash at the same time.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Not Yet

When one is over confident it usually ends in a fall.  At least with me and pants!  I finally have a tnt pattern for trousers, but jeans have eluded me.  I am on my 4th pair, the first one became a muslin for the second pair, also not a great fit. So I decided to make a real muslin, not one intended for wear.  I did more fitting and cut out the 4th pair yesterday, and ended up with the same cutting mistake I thought I had fixed in the muslin.  I walked the pattern and I still have the back higher than the front side seam.  I can only  think that I forgot to add the back yoke when I measured. They may be a pair that is a bit lower than I want them to be, but I am going to  baste them and see if I they can be saved.  I know, as Kay mentioned that they won't be totally wrinkle free, but they will have the fewest wrinkles I can manage and still be able to sit down.  Fitting ended up being  a combinations of Peggy Sagers fitting techniques and Joyce Murphy's body space to alter the pattern.  I'll fit them today and hopefully they will still be wearable.  At least I am using inexpensive denim I bought on sale at Fabric.com.  The sale is still going on I think.  When they came one was as stiff as a board but they both washed up nicely.

I've also spent time tracing out two of the new Hot Patterns knit tops; the cowl bottom and the twisted bottom.  I will reserve judgement until after I've sewn them up, but the armhole was really low when I compared it to my tnt knit t. The sleeve cap also had a huge amount of ease that I removed.  Knit tops really don't need any ease in the sleeve cap.  The tops are really current in styling and since I wear a lot of knits I am always looking for something unique. For once  I decided to actually make knit muslins. There are a number of knits languishing in my stash that one,  must have been bought in a moment of madness, or two they were not anything like the color I thought I'd be getting.  Good use for them and good riddance

Friday, September 23, 2011

Come Visit Me!

The Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College on Wicks Road is hosting a Home Show this weekend.  I'll be hosting in the booth I designed for John Sparrow Landscapes.  It's free and if you want to escape the rain, I'll be there this afternoon and tomorrow.   Come say hello!
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Monday, September 12, 2011

Can I Do Better Than These?

These jeans sell for $560 on Net a Porter.  Yes, they are by Chloe, but they don't fit her  very well.   See those wrinkles in the crotch? Ouch! I think I can do better than this and I am not a size 2.
To facilitate fitting the perfect pair of jeans I bought  Palmer Pletsch's new 2 disc dvd on fitting and sewing jeans.  It really covers everything you need to know about making jeans, or so I thought.

The DVD fits Marta first as well as 2 other women of different ages and shapes. It's definitely better done than some of their other dvd's and covers a lot of territory without spending 5 minutes taping the tissue. They show the usual tissue fitting and then,  instead of sewing up the pants with the zipper and details like pockets first and then pin fit,  they have you pin fit before you sew anything except for the front and back crotch.
Even though I carefully clipped the crotch for the tissue fitting so that it could be pulled up to touch my crotch the crotch depth was a good 1" too deep in the denim.  I had to really drop the back crotch and sew a deeper center back seam to straighten it out even though I already had lowered it during the tissue fitting.  I had to  pull up the center back to get rid of wrinkles below the rear end, a lot. It looked pretty good so I started sewing, putting in a zipper and doing the pockets.  I basted all the seams together and put them back on.  Hmm.  Not bad, but not really good enough.  I still had some wrinkles below the rear end and too much fabric at the lower crotch that I didn't catch in the pin fitting. This really can't be fixed once you've cut out the pants. The front pockets weren't wide enough either. Remember I copied these from a rtw pair that used to fit?  I graded them up but I didn't make the front pockets wider.  Unfortunate that, but since I had other issues I decided that these were a muslin.  Nice denim but if they weren't a great fit I wasn't going to wear them anyway. I added a cb seam for the waistband, but it was also too big in the waist so I took it in a good inch or more using small darts in several places around waist in the tissue to take care of this. I have a pretty curvy high hip to waist and this  makes it  work for me.

After cutting and  fitting these jeans I saw Peggy Sagers fitting videos on her website and gee she had one for fitting jeans that comes at it from a totally different perspective than Palmer Pletsch  does.  She recommends using denim for your jeans muslin, which I ended up doing if inadvertently.  I pinned a dart out below the zipper and another one below my rear end that took excess fabric out.  Also something she shows on the video.I also added back some fabric at the upper cb where the pants were pulling down (below the yoke as you don't want to change that size of that). Remember, I pulled it up here to get rid of wrinkles.  She does not advocate scooping out which is a big aspect of fitting rear ends for PP.  That's actually putting it mildly.  She's very opinionated about it, but she does get results.  Sagers recommends just using your muslin to cut your pants, but I find that awkward, so I transferred my changes to the pattern.  She also  suggests that instead of lining up your back pockets with the yoke seam that you line up the side of the pocket with the cb seam.  I went to Net a Porter and looked at how pockets were sewn on high end jeans and sure enough the most becoming had the pockets sewn almost parallel to the cb.  I was also looking for a treatment for those pockets and the high end jeans had very simple understated topstitching which is perfect for me. In fact, I think I'll use black topstitching to be even more understated. The back pocket needed to be a bit larger as well.  Large rear, bigger pocket looks more proportional.  I think that I am pretty close to a good fit now,  certainly  better than I can get in rtw.  
One other issue I encountered is using a contour band makes it very stretchy as the whole thing can't be cut on the straight grain, or the non stretch direction while PP only has you interface the buttonhole area on both ends, I doubt that's going to work for me.   If I don't interface I'm going to be wearing these around my ankles.  I think that I'll cut the interfacing along a different grainline so that I end up stabilizing the waistband. Did I see this on your blog Sirgrid?  It's a great idea. 
 On to cutting out my next pair, hopefully this time a totally wearable pair. 

I have one question for you readers, if I am not going to tuck my shirt in or wear a belt with them, do I need to use the belt loops? 

Friday, September 9, 2011

And The Winner Is!

The last time I won something?  Well I can't remember, that is until today when I opened my Hot Patterns e mail.  It is their 6th anniversary and if you buy a pattern during the month of September you  will be entered  in the  weekly drawing running during the month of September  to get that pattern free.  Unless there's another Nancy K from New York, I won the first drawing!  I bought the motorcycle jacket pattern to use with my leather from Fabric Marts half price sale.  

 I was going to use a Burda pattern with an off set zipper and collar, but I think that  this will be an easier wear and easier to sew.  There is also a Mannequim jacket that looks like a Rick Owens knockoff but talk about difficult, just finding it on the pattern map was a challenge. There are a lot of pattern pieces and I don't have that much experience sewing leather.  I want to get this done to wear this fall, not next spring!  This has good lines for me, semi fitted, but not too tight and the length is good for wearing over other pieces.
Thank you Hot Patterns, it was a nice start to my day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's Been Awhile

 We've had a busy summer:  a wedding in California, visiting family, meaning Jakob of course, and having computer issues, all of which pushed blogging to the bottom of the list.  I did do a little sewing after the wedding outfit and spent a lot of time cleaning up the sewing room, moving summer fabrics into the closet, moving  fall fabrics out and planning my fall sewing. 
I made the ubiquitous Vogue 1250 like so many others.  The biggest issue I encountered with this was getting it enlarged to fit my hips and then getting it to fit on the fabric.  I ended up cutting it on the cross grain.  If I make this again I think I'll resort to creating a side seam.
To refresh your memory, this is what it looks like on the tall, skinny model,

This is what it looks like on me.  That's Lily by the way wanting in on the picture taking. We adopted her in June from Arf or the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons.  I highly recommend them if you are looking for a dog on Long Island. 

Anyway, back to sewing.  I won't do a review of this; there are lots of reviews out there already, but I will show you what I did to make it fit my hips.  Even thinner people complained that it ran snug in the hips so I was cautious.  First I made an fba adding a dart, which I think that you can just make out.  Then I copied the side hip dart and put it aside.  After slitting the side seam and adding the room I needed I taped it  in place positioning the point of the dart with the center of my addition.  It worked and I have enough room for it to fit nicely.  It did however no longer fit the width of my fabric, so I cut it on the cross grain.  The fabric is a rayon knit from Emmaonesock that while thin was very easy to work with.  It didn't roll at all.  Nice quality as always from EOS.

The second piece I worked on was this top from Hot Patterns Riviera Cote D'Azur knit dress, tunic and top.  I made the top.  I love it.  I wish I'd made it earlier in the season because the dress would have been the perfect summer piece.

Description: V neck knit top with center front and back seams. The cf is gathered to a facing piece at the bust and then sewn together.  I didn't make an fba on this.

Fabric: A rayon knit from Mood that was printed and then overprinted(the black) to make a border print along one edge.  I again resorted to cutting it on the crossgrain.  I did not buy enough to put the print at the top as I originally planned, but this worked out well.

Instructions: Minimal, but this is so easy they are fine.
Pattern alterations: all I did was to shorten this a bit.

This   is an easy top and comfortable to wear.  The neckline is a bit low, but my bust is low so there's not a lot of cleavage showing.  I am comfortable with this, but if your bust is higher or you don't like low necklines, I'd consider raising it a bit.
If you live in the southern hemisphere, I'd really think about making not only the top but the dress.  Perfect pattern for hot summers.

What am I working on now?  Jeans, finally.  I have a pair of rtw jeans that are too tight but when they fit, they fit well.  When I took KK's moulage class he suggested that I copy  and grade them up.  I've done that and  I am fitting them now, but I'll leave that for my next post.  I will however leave you with a picture of Jakob.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Do You Sew for a Man, Yourself or a Significant Other?

The chicken or the egg, do  men not sew because they aren't interested or because there are so few patterns available to them?   That's been a discussion on sewing boards and several blogs over the last few years.  The big 4 have a scant few patterns available, and most of them aren't very appealing to anyone who  wants to dress fashionably or dress at all for that matter. That may change if Hot Patterns starts designing for men.   If you are on the Hot Patterns email list you may have already seen this news, but for those of you who aren't, Trudy and Jeremy are interested in producing a jeans pattern for men.  Trudy made a successful pair for Jeremy recently but they can't afford to spend the production time on it if there isn't enough interest. So they propose that you pre order  the pattern and if there is enough interest they will have the patterns ready for a September 1st delivery.  Here it is and if you are interested, head over to Hot Patterns and order yourself a copy. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maybe it's Just Me

August's  Burda Style Magazine arrived yesterday.  My husband gets the mail at our PO box before he goes to work.  If my new Burda is there he leaves it and calls to tell me it's in the box so I don't have to wait till he gets home that night.  He knows how I look forward to it's arrival.  Meh. Not this month, or last for that matter.    I've got Burda going back to 1999, when I started buying it at Borders.  I don't have all the issues that far back, but about 2 years later I started subscribing, so I have a lot of back issues.  I went to the Post Office around lunch time and ripped open the plastic bag to get my first peak right there in the parking lot.  Not impressed. 
There is absolutely nothing I want to sew in this issue.  The plus sizes would make me look about twice as big as I am.  When did overloads of fabric become flattering?  Would you wear this?
How about this outfit?
This is everything that Stacy and Clinton tell you not to wear.  Look at all that fabric around the hips and narrowing down to that oh so flattering carrot shape. 

I take it back, I would sew this skirt:
The jackets are not only boring, but none of them would do well for a large busted woman. 
I don't get the collar on this one.  It's so bulky I am choking just looking at it.
Here are the ruffles I really hate.

or this 'lovely blouse'  They bill this section as military or feminine.  Do feminine clothes have to be covered in ruffles? 
The rest is just boring.  

Next month is Folkloric month or 'Boho Chic' as they are billing it this year and I quote: Alpine traditions meets Hungarian Rhapsody- resulting in the loveliest European folk-style fashion clothes! Colorful skirts charming aprons, flattering bodices, darling blouses, casual trousers, rustic knits, and more!'  Doesn't that sound  like just  what you want to sew?  Or maybe you do, but lately this section has  come across as a mish mash kind of a collection and that's what this sounds like. A mess.

One section is inspired by Mark Rothko using bright color combos.  It remains to be seen what the patterns will look like.  the plus sizes look slightly more promising in September.  The rest? There's another overly full dress and more pleated, tapered pants. 

I haven't started planning my fall wardrobe, but needless to say I'll be looking elsewhere for inspiration. Oh and my subscription is up for renewal. It's up to $90 this year and this is the first time I am really thinking about it.
Maybe it's just me,  or are you just as disappointed by Burda Style lately?

Friday, July 22, 2011

I'm Back!

It's been over a month since I last posted.   Between work and getting my outfit finished, something had to give and blogging was it.  I finished my outfit for my nieces wedding,  flew out to California went to the wedding and we are back.  It was a lovely wedding and the bride was gorgeous.  

When I decided to make a 3 piece outfit I figured I'd get more wear out of it than I would a cocktail dress, and I can see breaking it up to wear the pants with a cashmere sweater, the jacket over more casual pieces.  The tank under a sweater.  You get the picture.

This jacket was a pita to make.  I don't know why.  I made a muslin for it and carefully hand basted the silk organza underlining on the seam lines.  The problems started with  setting in the sleeves.  They are a 3 piece raglan.  If you think it's hard to set in a set in sleeve they are a cinch compared to these.  The neckline is supposed to be in line with the lapel edge.  I had a lot of trouble doing that and if you look at the pattern pieces and how they go together, it doesn't line up that way.  Of course in the muslin I didn't add the facings.  Big mistake here.  In the end the object was just to get it done, and I did.  I like it, but the low neckline, even though I took out a lot in the lapel really wants to open up over my bust.  Open, you don't notice it.

I do love the pants.  They are a 4 ply silk crepe lined with silk twill.  They fit beautifully and are comfortable to wear.  The jacket is a washed lame in some blend from Emmaonesock.  The silk jersey for the tank also came from EOS.  The trim was a serendipitous purchase at Mood when Claire Kennedy and I were doing our  whirlwind shopping tour of  the garment district.  We were in the trim section at Mood and I mentioned to Claire that I'd really like to trim the tank and looking down there was the perfect trim.

I'd never used a trim like this before but it wasn't hard to do.  I did need a wider binding than this method calls for; 2" instead of 1 3/8".   It's easiest to hand baste the trim first and I used a zipper foot to attach the binding.  I used my tnt t shirt pattern to make this tank top. I lowered the neckline, and added to the front armhole so as not to be too exposed.  If I remember correctly, I also added a bit to the outer shoulder.  I bound both the neckline and the armholes using Lynn Maynard's method.  It really  makes a flat, neat finish and the interfacing helped support the weight of the trim.

Here's a picture of my gorgeous niece.

Next up is finishing a top I didn't finish before we left and  a summer dress.  Maybe a couple more t shirts to finish out the summer as well.
Stay cool.

Monday, June 13, 2011

CD Books. Not a Bargain

A few months ago, after I took KK's moulage class I needed to learn how to use the resulting slopers.  I wanted to use them to adjust commercial patterns so I bought Lynda Maynards cd book De-Mystifying Fit for $27.95.  Not too expensive right?  At first I used it on my computer monitor, but this is just not convenient.  When I am fitting a pattern with a new method I want it right next to me on my table.  I don't have a laptop just a netbook and a desktop across the room.  As I said not convenient.  So I bit the bullet and had it printed at Staples.  It cost me $47 to get it printed and spiral bound.  There are places that print on demand or do small runs. It's got to be less than this!  That's $74.95 by the way.  Kenneth King has a lot of cd books, several of which I have.  They are about the same price and again, you really need it printed out if you want to use them.  If you have a laptop at least you can use it on your cutting table or sit with it and read it.   On top of that, it's not all that inclusive.  In 195 pages she doesn't go past a set in sleeve.  Only after sitting with it in my lap was I really able to read it through.  It was not all that helpful with the jacket I'm making now, which has raglan sleeves, and I made an fba based on my sloper that was bigger than my usual method.  Of course, now that I've read the book I learned that I should make a muslin for each of my slopers, the blouse dress and the jacket.    Woops.  Maybe that's why the front of my jacket was too big and the back high hip not big enough.  The bottom line is that you still need another fitting book to cover what this book doesn't.

Sewing update.  Saturday was a disaster as far as sewing is concerned.  All I did was errands and try to get my phone fixed.  Bottom line is that I am getting a new one sometime this week.  Fun.
Sunday we cleaned in the morning and then I got in a couple of hours of sewing and realized that the cuff was just not working. It was just too bulky.  So, I cut it off, making the sleeve a bit shorter and after cutting down the facing, sewed it back on as a hem facing.  Not really  a lot of sewing accomplished.  Sleeves are finished and the next thing is to baste them into my jacket.  By hand and to check the fit of my shoulder pads, which I  made this weekend,  raglan shoulder pads which took some time too.  I have an old McCalls pattern dating from 1987 and boy  can you tell. Those are some big shoulder pads!  I cut them down a bit and thinned them out.  I really don't need or want 1" shoulder pads in this jacket.  I molded them to my shoulder by pinning them to  my ham and steaming and starching them into shape.  I really find it impossible to get good raglan shoulder pads.  The petal pads that I have from the Sewing Workshop were just too small for this jacket.  I like them but they are also expensive at $7.50 a pair.  A lot for shoulder pads.  If I want set in pads I make them to size from my pattern and then they actually fit my narrow shoulders.  The instructions are in an old Threads btw.  Since I have to add depth to the right pad anyway I might as well make my own to begin with.

edited to add that yes, this is the book that Kenneth King offers on his website.  I bought it from Pattern Review and got 10% off for being a member.  The book is 295 pages long.  The thing about having a book as I think Gwen mentioned, is the ability to make notes and to highlight which is just not possible with a cd book. I have 3 of Kenneth Kings cd books, including the moulage book and they are much shorter so they didn't cost so much to print.  But, honestly they are just not usable if you don't print them. There is a big difference between cd books and DVD's.  The best is to have a book like David Page Coffin's trouser book that has a printable cd in it.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Where are You On the Scale of Sewing?

This morning over coffee I was reading Carolyn's blog Diary of a Sewing Fanatic and she was talking about how you become an advanced stitcher, a term I found on a blog new to me, Tilly and the Buttons who's been sewing for a year and a half.  Carolyn wanted to add experience, the muscle memory of doing a task repetitively to Tilly's list of sewing objectives.  At the time I was thinking about doing a post on the joys of slow sewing.  We are often in such a hurry that we don't sew the things that make us a better stitcher(I love this term)  I have not been happy with my sewing lately, and I realized that I was picking easy, quick things to sew and forgetting the joys a beautifully made jacket.  I have learned how to make well finished pants; it's a lot easier to do them well when you aren't struggling with fit.  But, I avoid other things like making a blouse, or a dress that isn't a knit (this is partly not finding any I think would look good on me.  Doesn't help when you've had a weight gain).  Or doing the advanced techniques that I used to love doing.  I have a list like Tilly's, not the same of course, but I haven't pursued sewing anything from that list.  I have called myself an advanced stitcher, but lately I've thought about demoting myself to intermediate! 

My jacket is slow sewing and it has been a joy to work on.  I made a muslin, not something I do that often usually preferring to tissue fit, but I didn't want to have fit problems once I started sewing.  This is a teaching moment!  If you don't having fitting issues during your sewing, well it's a whole lot more fun.  I even liked all the hand stitching and basting needed for this jacket.  Basting doesn't show so it doesn't need to be perfect.  I would love to learn how to make a hand sewn buttonhole, something I've never done.  There are other things on my list that people who have much less experience do beautifully, like Peter, who's only been sewing a year and he can make  a gorgeous tailored shirt.   I need to start pushing myself again if I want to become a better stitcher.    Carolyn is right that experience counts, but so does pushing the boundaries and not being afraid to try a new technique.

Where are you on the sewing scale?  What do you need to make yourself a better stitcher, or are you happy where you are?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Sewing a Princess Seam

My weekend  was spent sewing, taking advantage of the cool weather that is not lasting much longer.  I basted my silk organza underlining  to my fabric.  I've done this for silk pants and skirts, but never on a jacket before.  Lots of time, but it really gives structure to a fairly limp fabric and it doesn't flatten a textured fabric .  The next step was to sew the cb seam and the princess seams.  With my DD cup I've had issues getting a smooth bust area on princess seams.  Now, I have a fairly large sewing library and for once I looked for techniques before I ran into trouble!  For the princess seams I used a method I found in Roberta Carr's Couture The Art of Fine Sewing.

 All of the seam lines are basted so that I was able to easily see the seam line on the right side and could  fold  the side panel on the seamline and place it at on the center front seamline.  The side panel seam line is pinned in place over a ham and the bust point has more closely placed pins.   Then it was  slip basted to hold the seams together exactly on the seam.  When sewing the seam, the side panel,  the weaker seam, is placed on top so that one side is sewn from the shoulder down and the other side from the hem up.  While the whole process is more time consuming the results are worth it. 

Above is the finished seam.  Smooth and easy to sew.

Next up is sewing the side seams and then the sleeves.  Normally I think that Burda's instructions for sewing a raglan sleeve are bad.  They have you sew up the whole sleeve and set it in as if it were a set in sleeve, when really the better way to do it is to attach the front and back sleeve to the garment body, sew up the top seam and then sew the under arm to the hem in one pass.  This jacket however has and under sleeve and a facing/cuff so that I can't sew it up as a typical raglans sleeve.  Burda has you sew the top shoulder, sleeve seam and one of the undersleeve sides to it and then sew the facing on while the sleeve is open. This actually makes sense.  Then you sew up the remaining seam and set it in the round.  Harder, but the fit is better.
The alterations I made to the muslin worked perfectly.  I don't have that drag line pointing to my full high hip in back and that 1890's look  has been replaced by a nicely fitted front and the lapel roll line does not gape.  I ended up removing about an inch from the front, actually all the way down to the hem at the princess line and moved the princess seam just to the  outside of the bust point.  When we were drafting our slopers with Kenneth King tossed out a nice tip,  a garment is more flattering if the princess line falls slightly to the side of the bust point. 
I know that I have left the pants unfinished, but the jacket is fun, interesting sewing and the pants?  Utilitarian that I've done a million times.  That will sew up quickly and easily.  So back to my jacket.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Do You Get Excited About New Sewing Notions?

Atlanta Thread had a sale last month and I took advantage.   I bought the prosaic, some thread and shoulder pads.  Kenneth King likes their needle punch pads.  Then came the biggie, well moderately big, I bought a new cutting mat.  A very large cutting mat, 4'x8', that then needed a new table top to support it.  I had a 2'x 8' hollow core door from my previous sewing room. Fortunately we hadn't thrown it out.  My dh  bought me another door, 3x 8' so that I now have a 5' wide table.  Of course the doors are a nominal 8' so he's going to add a piece of wood at one end so that my lovely new mat won't hang over the edge.  This means I can cut out a 60" wide piece of fabric in a single lay without it falling off the side of my table. Of course I had to rearrange the room, get rid of my lounge chair, which was only a repository for fabric anyway, and I turned the table  90 degrees.  We set the top with an overhang on one side deep enough to comfortably in a chair. I can easily work on either side of the table, which is particularly useful for tracing patterns.  I love it!

My new jacket fabric from Emmaonesock came yesterday and  it's laid out, ready for  graining up my silk organza jacket underlining.  I can even use the counter behind me for rulers and notions I am using.

The pants part of this outfit are coming along nicely with the pants shell finished and the lining is cut out ready to sew.  I was hoping to get it done by yesterday, but work intervened.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Disasters, Large and Small

It's been nothing but disasters in the sewing room lately.  Not all of them my fault.  Got all my silk organza  jacket underlining cut out and marked and went to lay it out on my fabric.  I started out with 1/2 yard extra and ended up with not enough fabric.  How you ask?  Fabric irregularities.  I had never opened up the whole piece as I was planning on dry cleaning it.  When I pressed it I noticed that parts of it looked somewhat irregular.  There were 2 bands of wider, rippled fabric and a 2" band of darker fabric, not in the aforementioned rippled areas.  When I laid all the pattern pieces out to avoid the defects there just wasn't enough fabric.  Now I had to find another piece of fabric that matched the other two fabrics, so basically I had to find another piece in the silver family.  I went to my trusty computer and Emmaonesock to the rescue.  I bought this washed silver lame, which by a stroke of luck I even had a sample in the house.  Good thing I'm such a lousy housekeeper that I hadn't thrown it out yet. 
The second disaster was the pattern for my top.  Did not work for me. Fortunately I wasn't sure about it so I cut a muslin in a knit that had about the same stretch as my silk jersey.  This is a plus size pattern that Burda showed skin tight on their so called plus size model.   I am not happy with tops being tight in the middle showing off my flabby middle. If I wanted to wear spanx in the summer sure I could wear it but I'm not that crazy, or maybe I don't like feeling like a sausage. I had added to the middle before I cut it and I cut wide sas.  While that fixed the sausage aspect the ruching droops if it's not tight.  So no good.  It was this Burda top, 139 6/10.  
It obviously needs to be tight to keep the gathering from drooping.  Ah well.  At this late date I needed something that I knew would fit.  I took my newest knit top and made it into a tank top. I lowered the neckline a bit and made some other adjustments.  Now to cut it out.
I did make progress on the pants, thank goodness.  But, before I cut them out I wanted to check out the alteration I made to fix the diagonal drag line.  I pinned out a dart in the inseam of my gray pants until they hung properly, transferred it to my pattern,  and guess what? It worked!  I cut out a pair of drapey rayon pants in the wide width I'd chosen for the pants and sewed up just enough to see if it worked.  They hang perfectly.  I will finish them after I finish my wedding finery.  I cut and marked my pants this afternoon.  Since the silver lame won't get here until Thursday, I should be able to finish at least the pants by then.  I feel a lot better.  Wish me luck on the jacket.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

New Dress? Not Happening

My drafting skills are just not that good and while, not a wadder, it's taking up  entirely too much of my limited  time considering the amount of time I have left to make the main event, the three pieces for the wedding itself.  I have other things I can wear after all.  I'll play with it when we come back.  In the meantime, in case I didn't mention it, the Vogue jacket is out and this Burda jacket 113 from 6/10 is in.  I am making the length of 114 and collarless. I also either will make the cuffs a little deeper.  I did have a picture  the short sleeve photo and a technical drawing.But Blogger. kept removing what I added or move it around beyond my control.  I added it removed. I gave up.  You'll notice I can't get this to print all the way across either.  I just gave up.


You can see from the muslin that the front is drooping. I managed to fix this by taking in the front princess seam and by pulling the lapel up, it is sewn into the shoulder seam. I also realized that the right shoulder pad was too deep.  I always add to the right shoulder but this was a bit too much.  The back needs to have a  sloping shoulder adjustment.  In a raglan sleeve you take out from the back and front piece where at the shoulder line.  I took out some inches from the front and added some to the back princess seam to go over my full high hip.  It  doesn't show so much in this picture, but Seth took a cellphone pic that really  shows it.  I added some extra and I can always take it in if I don't need it.  I am going to use covered buttons, probably the reverse side of my fabric.  It's been very hard to make up my mind which side I'll be using but the more metallic side is actually more subtle. (That's the one on the left) The side with the metallic ovals is really more obvious.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Dress

Waiting to be sewn are a muslin of the  jacket for my niece's wedding(haven't even cut this out), a wearable muslin to test the alteration I made to the pants and a hopefully wearable muslin of the top.  Am I sewing any of that?  No.  I am making a knockoff of this Giambattista Valli dress.  I cut the picture  out of the NY Times last fall when they were covering the spring 2011 shows.  Not only has the clipping been residing on my idea board, I bought the fabrics for it as well.  In the newspaper clipping the top of the dress looks red. I bought red, which is fine, but in looking for a picture to post here of the dress I went to Style.com and it is really a bright orange.  Well it's my interpretation anyway.  I am well past the age where I would wear a skirt that short, so right there it's different.   I lengthened the center section which you may well recognize because it's the same cotton knit animal print I used last summer to make that Tom and Linda Platt dress which you can see over on the left.  The pattern is Marcy Tiltons V8497 which I used to make a black and white color blocked t when I was knocking off a Celine top.  I've never actually made the top the way she designed it but I bought it for the neckline in C which I used for a t shirt and for the kimono sleeve.

Except for the bottom band, it's all cut out and ready to sew.  I doubt that this is in a knit which is what I am using,  but I could be wrong.  I've deepened the neckline because I feel like I'm choking just looking at her. I don't think that I'll cut a facing for the neckline, even though it would look more like this.  I think that I'll just use my new favorite technique and bind the neckline.  The top and bottom sections are in a ponte knit and all of the fabrics are from Mood.  I even ordered this on line.  I figure I owe them a bone after I trashed their website.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another New Top

Burda 115 8/10 may very well be my new tnt knit top.  This is the same pattern as the white top, but a single layer with the lower of the two necklines.  Even though summer is approaching, I made another long sleeved top.  It's still chilly here, especially at night and I don't have many long sleeve tops in my wardrobe.  This was a roll end  rayon knit from Emmaonesock. ( It pays to watch her roll end section as I've found some great bargains there). It doesn't have a lot of stretch  so it probably doesn't have much, if any  lycra in it,  I didn't have enough fabric for the neckband and this ivory rayon lycra leftover is perfect for a neckband.  It's also from EOS, one of her stock 11 oz knits and it doesn't roll at the edges the way a lot of single knits do,making it easier to work with.

I used the same neckband technique from Lynda Maynard that I used in the white top.  You can see how nice and flat it is and interfacing the neckline really stabilizes it and makes it easy to stay stitch and to stitch  in the ditch when you are applying the band.  It's a 3/8" finished width and while she suggests cutting 1 3/8" strips, I added an 1/8" to give me something to cut off when I serged it. You don't really need to serge the knit edge of course, but it looks more professional if you do.  If you are having issues sewing nice neckbands on knit tops, this is the method to use. 
The interfacing I used for the neckline is tricot from Fashion Sewing  Supply.  It's by far the best  fusible tricot  I've used.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Rookie Mistakes


Nothing but sewing disasters here.  I can't believe what rookie mistakes I've made.  I am sewing a sweater knit top with little stretch and I made it too tight.  So , I figured I'll add black rayon knit bands down the sides.  Perfect.  I went to pick up the sleeves to sew and I had actually cut a piece out of one of them. I wanted a sample for my board.  There are plenty of scraps, and I cut it out of the sleeve.   Can you believe it?  What a disaster.  Of course I don't have enough extra to cut another sleeve.  Marcy Tilton still had the fabric the last time I looked but I am not sure I even want to order another yard to fix this.  My ufo double top was great, shown above Burda 112 8/10 until I went to hem it. The outer fabric is hard to sew and hem so I figured I'd just leave it unfinished. It's semi sheer.  I  cut too much off and it's ok, but the bottom rolls up unevenly and looking in the photos it looks  like it is uneven. I swear it isn't.   My tnt pants developed a drape at the bottom of the leg after I split it down the middle to make it larger. You can see it in the picture as well.   I re balanced the leg after I did this but why it is in the later pair of pants and not the earlier before I made them bigger I can't figure out.  I did play around with how they hang on my body and they the inseam appears to be too long.  When I pinned it in horizontal dart that drag line disappeared.   Grr.  I need to get my sewing back to even good here before I tackle my wedding finery.  I think that II am just going to let the knit top go.  I don't love it enough to buy another yard of fabric to fix it. 

I do like the fit on the Burda double top so I am going to make another top, but a single layer.  Simple two sleeves and a nice neckline using the new technique I learned in
Lynda Maynard's The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques  I found a copy  in the new book section at the  library.  I  used her single fold binding on knit fabrics for the tops.  It's a really great technique.  Easy to do and it looks very professional.  It's far easier than the methods where you quarter a circle and apply the binding as a circle. and it lays flat and close to the body and even on hard to sew fabric like the textured layer on  my double top.  I was not stupid enough to try and use it with a strip of self fabric, but delved into the scrap bin and used a nice white rayon and lycra knit instead.  A note on fit here.  There are no darts on this top, but my DD cup bust needs darts no matter what I am making.  I added short darts in the front armholes to take up the folds there when I was tissue fitting the top.  Somewhere on the internet, I think it's under David Paige Coffins You Tube videos, there is a video of Marcy Tilton fitting a knit top.  She tissue fits them and she shows how to add these darts.  They have to be small and short and they work.  The only thing I am going to change on  this top is to widen the shoulders a little.  I have very narrow shoulders and the  seams are just past my shoulder bones.  I think that a little more width might be flattering.  I can always cut it off if I don't like it.
The book itself is a strange amalgam of techniques and imop poorly organized.  Sigrid used the pocket staying technique which worked  beautifully as well.  Kenneth King has a similar technique on the Threads website.  Is it worth buying the book?  I don't know but Amazon has it for a good price, well below list.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Finding Fabrics

It's a busy time of year for me so I have been trying to avoid a trip into NYC to  look for fabrics to go with my jacket fabric.  I had a very annoying time getting samples out of Mood.  Forget what I said about Mood having fixed their website.  It must have been an out of body experience because it's just the same as ever, just a little faster, which isn't saying much.  I regularly window shop on Net a Porter for ideas and boy do they have a great website.  Wonderful pictures, fast response time and when you use the back button you land where you left off, not at the  beginning of 7 or 11 or whatever the number of pages which is what happens on Mood's site.  I don't know about customer service because I can't afford to buy anything on Net a Porter.  Mood's customer service?  Nasty and obnoxious.  I have a PO box for mail and Mood says it doesn't ship to PO boxes.  However, it lists usps in their shipping list and they send out samples by mail.   One woman insisted that the site allows you to send to a PO box.  Not without a phone call or in my second try an email. The first woman I spoke to said I should have known to call them after all I should know that free samples go by mail.  I replied why can't they just fix the website?  I don't know about you, but I shop online after 5pm or on the weekend when they don't have hours.  What, I'm supposed to wait and call them when they are open?  Isn't that why we shop online, so that we can shop at our convenience?  
Enough. I love Mood in  person.   If I wanted to bore you I'd go on with a long list of what's wrong with their site.  But I won't as you can find out for yourself.  I buy a lot of fabric online, but not from Mood.  Oh, their samples, which finally came were only 'all right' and they didn't have the color I wanted in the fabric I wanted.
Next place I sent for samples is Banksville Designer Fabrics.  They sent gorgeous samples in the colors I wanted.  The fabric that I would use for the pants and tank top is a double sided charmeuse, but it's not shiny, more like a really gorgeous 4 ply silk crepe.  Only problem is that it's only 36" wide and I'd really have to figure the yardage carefully and cut it in a single lay, which is actually a good way to cut slippery fabrics.  They had a gorgeous gray silk organza for underlining my jacket and two luscious stretch silk charmeuse choices for lining the jacket.  I've decided that I want a hidden splash of color and I have a choice of hot pink or a light lemon yellow.   I am leaning towards the hot pink.  I love a charmeuse lining in a jacket, especially if I am wearing a sleeveless top underneath.  

I am still awaiting samples from B & J.  BTW, they have a website with gorgeous fabrics on it now.  They have chosen to go with unique fabrics and not basics, though they certainly have lots of plainer things in the store. I called and ordered samples.  One thing they do have is the largest selection of Liberty of London fabrics that I've seen anywhere.  The Tana lawn prices are  at the lower end of what I've seen.  If you are into these fabrics, do check them out.  They also have a large selection of guipure lace.  Gorgeous. 

Didn't get to finish my silk blouse yet but it's coming along.  We are leaving tomorrow  to spend Passover with  Josh and Sarah and Jakob.   Sunday Sarah and I are going to the park with Jake while the  Josh and Seth do the food shopping for Seder.   Can't wait.  

Have a great weekend, and if you celebrate Passover, have a good holiday.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sewing For Fun

That's right, sewing is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  My escapades with the coat, which I still don't love, had knocked out my sewing mojo.  Then came the issues with my jacket pattern.  All not fun. 
Sigrid suggested I sew something easy to get back into sewing and I did; I  made a pair of pants. Yes, pants.  Without fitting issues pants are easy, especially when I sew them without waist and hip details, which I did.   Having that tnt pattern is really the ticket to making pants fun and easy if your body doesn't conform to the ideal body shape that the sewing companies use.  The other key to a flattering pair of pants is fabric that drapes well.  It just flows over all those lumps and bumps.  A certain weight is needed here as well.  One thing I did was add another inch to the length so that one, they are longer than I've been making them, and two that I could have a deeper hem which also adds weight and hangs well. 

Now I am sewing up two ufo tops.  One is a silk blouse and the other is double layer knit top that I started in the fall and it got too cold for  it.  
I'll show them when I get a new top done so that I have an 'outfit'.  Like Elaray, I really don't like sewing Swap's, especially those with lots of garments. I do however like to sew pieces that go together.  Of course, with my limited color repertoire almost everything goes to together in my wardrobe.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Jacket Update

First muslin of my jacket and I was ready to trash it and look for something else.  Claire Kennedy  to the rescue.  She made some suggestions and I altered the pattern to eliminate both the welt pocket and the fact that the lower side is not attached and stands away from the body and is just not flattering or practical.  I altered the jacket to one, enable me to attach the curves to the jacket side and only leave an opening for a small pocket in the front curved seam.  Good for a lipstick or tissue or just interest.  I have actually never made a pocket like this in a seam so I have to look for some instructions, though I think I know what to do. I loved how the front fit, so it made it worth doing more alterations to the jacket and I am ready to make another muslin.

I love the fabric I bought and I am waiting for some 4 ply silk crepe samples for the pants.  Not making the pattern pants, but I am going to take my tnt pattern and widen the legs a lot to give a full pant.  For those of you who have forgotten what I am sewing, after all it's been awhile, here it is again.  I like the width of these pants, but not the pleated front.  Maybe I'll make them a little narrower because I cannot wear much of a heel.

I found this really nice silk and metallic fabric from Marcy Tilton for the jacket.  I like the face of the fabric on the left, though either is probably ok.  The picture on the right has some silk charmeuse of the color I am looking for in 4 ply silk crepe.  In real life both fabrics are cooler. 

By the way, I ordered my samples from Mood's online site and guess what?  They have finally fixed it and it no longer acts like you are using dial up instead of the very nice fast dsl line that I use.   I can now recommend their site; especially for dyed to match silks in all types and lots of
colors.  They should be here today.  or tomorrow.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Living With Pain

Lots of people live with pain for a variety of reasons.  When your doctors can't figure out why you are in pain it's even worse.  Right before my plantar fasciatis got bad I went to my doctor complaining about lower abdominal pain severe enough to finally come in.  This was last June.  She sent me to a gastroenterologist who proceeded to perform numerous tests and found nothing.  He sent me to my gynecologist who looked at all my tests and she said,  you're post menopausal so it's not gynecological.  Lose weight.  Well, yeah I want to lose weight  but I was more interested finding out why I was in pain, by then it had been months.  Good news, you don't have cancer, but we don't know what's wrong with you.  I left depressed and  angry with her attitude.  At this point I decided to go back to my primary care physician and asked her to look globally at my pain and  lack of other  symptoms and see if she could look beyond what the specialists had looked at.  My pain is very close to the surface when palpated.  She thought about it and decided to send me to a woman who specializes in woman's urology  at Stony Brook Hospital.  It took several months to get an appointment with her but it turned out that she actually had a diagnosis and a treatment. She sees lots of women with this problem.  That was in December.  She was wonderful, one of those doctors who actually listen and pay attention to what you are saying.  I don't know that there is a medical name but she said that I have what's known as pelvic pain and  mine is muscular.  There are several other causes.

But, getting treatment turned out not to be so easy.  The two very specialized physical therapists she refers  did not take my insurance.  I could only find someone who could do external pt and the low dose valium I was taking  which was  working turned out to turn me into a zombie.  I couldn't focus and couldn't stay awake in the evening and had trouble waking up.  I didn't feel safe driving so I stopped taking it and called the office.  She prescribed  a larger dose to be taken internally once a day.  I won't go into details, but the generic form wouldn't dissolve.  The insurance company wouldn't pay for the brand name which does dissolve.  $100 for a drug that's been around for how long?  I am still waiting for their decision on whether they will  cover it.  Oh, and by the way during this we changed insurance companies and the recommended therapist takes the new insurance.   So for the last 2 weeks I've been finally doing the therapy my doctor recommended.  It's painful and exhausting and time consuming especially since the office is 30 minutes away.  Hopefully it will also work.

I decided to write about this because there must be other women who have the same problem and haven't found a diagnosis either.   My physical therapist said that her boss is working with a doctor doing research on this.  It's not rare, but the doctors I went to weren't aware of it.  There are medical centers where all your doctors are in one place and actually talk to each other.  If that had been my experience I doubt it would have taken 6 months to get a diagnosis. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Moulage a la Kenneth King

Yesterday was the third and last session of my moulage class with Kenneth King.   It was a success; I now have a moulage and a set of slopers to work with to fit garments for myself.  Beyond that it was a pleasure to take a class with him.  He is a wonderful teacher and generous with his knowledge and a great raconteur.  Those extra little details on sewing and fit that I got from him were invaluable to my future sewing.  I wish that Alex was around so that I could make a moulage for her.

We were 10 women and we paired up for taking measurements. Both my partner and I must have done a good job measuring because her muslin needed no adjustments and mine needed adjustment for my low shoulder, we had measured my high side,  and a little taking in at my high hip which has been a challenge to fit over the years.  He was very hands on in this class, going around to each of us with infinite patience so that we got it right and answering any questions we had.  He took our muslins and marked the changes and transferred  them to  our moulage patterns.  Some women needed their side seams straightened out as they were pulling to the back or front  Very much like Claire Kennedy did for me when I was fitting my pants.  That side seam needs to be straight and perpendicular to the floor, not just for fit, but for a flattering fit.  I was thrilled and sort of amazed at how close the fit really was for me; my body is certainly no where near that perfect fitting model size.  It was also  interesting to see all the variations in our patterns.  No wonder it's so hard to get rtw to fit!

Today I sewed the right shoulder lower, and adjusted the high hip on my muslin so that I could put it on my dress form and adjust it to the moulage. I have one of those duct tape dress forms. I needed to pad out the shoulders a bit and I have to do some surgery on the arms.  They are causing some wrinkling on the back, but other wise it fits pretty well.  My next project is to draft sleeves for my moulage from KK's basic sleeve book.  We took the necessary measurements to draft sleeves to fit our moulage's in class.  Pattern review has all his cd's and if you are a member you get a 10% discount. They also have Linda Maynard's Demystifying Fit cd that he recommends for using with  your slopers to fit commercial patterns.  I ordered it this morning. 

 You can see the wrinkles on the back right shoulder where I need to do some surgery on my form.  Other than that I might  actually be able to  drape garments and pin fit to my shape with less time and   trouble. You can also see that my dress form narrows at the bottom.  My moulage also looked like that , but Kenneth suggested I straighten it out for a more flattering fit, which is why the muslin looks big at the bottom.   Trust your common sense and your instincts when it comes to fitting.
KK says that he can measure and draft a moulage and set of slopers in about an hour!

If you have the opportunity to  take a class with Kenneth, by all means do so.  It was worth every penny and while it was hard work, it was also fun and rewarding.

I haven't been doing any sewing since I finished my coat.  Lots of things going on.  But taking Kenneth's class has certainly inspired me to get back to the sewing room so I look forward to some good clothing coming out of that room!  Now that I've taken the class I will be making a muslin of the Miyake jacket and then, if I like it I'll be taking a trip into the city to look for fabric.
Happy sewing.