Friday, October 17, 2014

Yes, Something Is Finally Going On In The Sewing Room

It's really been awhile, hasn't it?  I'm not good at coming up with posts about sewing when I don't have anything to show you.  I cleaned my sewing room and did some organizing which has helped me get in the mood to sew.  I am tired of making versions of my tnt pants and tee shirt and there in lies the problem.  I have to make so many fitting changes to patterns that sometimes I just don't have the energy for it.  I spend a lot of time looking for the perfect pattern or at least a pattern that I can change to get the look I am after.  I spend a lot of time making lists of what I want to sew and never sewing all of it.  A raincoat has been on my list for years. Really, years.  Renee from Miss Celie's Pants posted on her blog that she had just bought real Burberry fabric from Michael's in Baltimore.  I quickly called them up and bought 5 yards of black bonded raincoat fabric.  It's been sitting in my stash for a long time. Maybe 5 years?  Renee made her coat years ago.  I have matching lining, red cashmere and wool blend for a button out lining.  buttons, buckles, in other words everything I need to make a damn raincoat. I actually have two sets of buckles for this coat and now I don't know if I will actually use buckles!

 Anyway, I finally made a decision on a pattern and it  was not one of the at least half dozen patterns I  bought to make this coat.  All this time I've been sure that I wanted to make a trench coat.  A single breasted, not the more typical double breasted variety. I even found some patterns, but none felt right.  I've been looking at coats on and Net a Porter looking for something that did feel right and I found it.  Actually I found two  coats and one pattern that I could use as the base for both coats.  I even have fabric for not one, but two winter coats.  Lining too.  Got to love that stash. The last coat I made was a bit of a disappointment which is one of the reasons I have hesitated.  Good coat patterns are hard to come by.  The new Vogue Ralph Rucci pattern is fabulous, but not for my body.   What I found were several coats from the Celine's Spring 2015 show. Phoebe Philo is one of my favorite designers.  She has a modern minimalism that I love.  It doesn't always work for me, but these shapes would be flattering. I don't intend to make it exactly like the original, but this is my inspiration. 

I also like these Calvin Klein coats enormously and they would work for a wonderful coating that's also been sitting in my stash, also from Michael's.

To get to these coats I found  Burda 103 3/14.  

The Russian Burda site has some wonderful versions of this coat including one a la Burberry if I decide to go in a more classic version.
I am still at the pattern alteration stage, but at least I am working on something new.
Have a great weekend.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Finally, a Pants Fix

On the whole I've been pretty pleased with my tnt pants, but they have always been better in fabrics that have drape.  But, make them tight and woops, where did that camel toe come from?  Unfortunately I don't have a before picture.  These are linen, cotton and lycra from DKNY bought from emmaonesock a few years ago. There  is quite a bit of stretch, so I sewed them tight knowing that they would loosen up almost immediately on wearing.  But, the front crotch was really off.  Not that the tight stretch had caused the problem but it certainly made it glaringly obvious. These photos are taken right after washing and pressing. They are tight, which you can see from the horizontal wrinkles which aren't from sitting since I hadn't sat down before these photos were taken. Buy there are no wrinkles pointing to my crotch. The others disappear as they stretch. They just become linen wrinkles.

Both Claire Kennedy and  Kathleen Fasanella have had posts on pants fit, specifically front crotch issues.  Fasanella's was the one that did it for me.  The front crotch curve needed to be deeper. I ended up having to remove the zipper to fix it, but it worked! No more camel toe even when sewn very tight. No crosswise wrinkles or other oddities even when tight. Of course in about 15 minutes wearing them they were no longer tight, but the crotch fit was perfect for the first time.   I am curious to see how it plays in a stiffer fabric.  Deepening the crotch curve  does makes the front crotch longer. If you measure the crotch before you do any surgery on it and compare it to the after length you will find the amount you have to lower the front waist when you apply the waistband. The waist will also be longer but mine wasn't longer by much. I made the front darts a little deeper to compensate.  I also took in the front inseam blending down about 7"  which also shortens the front crotch. It was the shape that was too shallow for me and I don't like a full front. 

The top is another rendition of Silhouette Pattern's Giorgio top which I love, This is the perfect fabric for it without too much stretch and great drape. Its a rayon lycra jersey that I bought  at Elliot Berman's 50 off sale.awhile back.  I probably could take it in a little bit in the middle, but I'll leave it alone.  I plan on making this again with long sleeves in a wool blend jersey I have in my stash.  Probably I'll make it more than once. It fits, it's more interesting than a regular tee and it fits.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Gray, The Big Trend for Fall

 WSJ September issue via Keep It Chic

According to Keep it Chic gray felt and knits are the way to go this fall.  Considering that I have three pieces of gray wool flannel and worsted, a gorgeous gray and black double sided cashmere knit, a couple of beautiful gray rayon knits and two gray bottom weight cottons  in my stash I am off to a good start.  
I've been wearing a lot of gray since I let my hair go natural.  I like how it sets off my silver hair. 
I also have a gray and black herringbone coating in my stash that I am planning on sewing up this fall.  My color palette has narrowed over the last few years, but I like gray, black and white and it certainly makes it easy to get dressed.  Occasionally I buy fabric in a different color and it sits there in my stash never sewn.  

On a different note, take a good look at the welt breast pocket in the top photo.  I would assume that this is a very expensive coat where you'd expect all the details to be perfectly sewn. The left side of this pocket is sewn properly;  on the right side the welts overlap.  A definite no no.

I do have a new outfit to photograph and post.  Hopefully I'll get it up this weekend.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

More Wedding Weekend Pieces

    Before I talk about the top, lets talk about how big these pants are.  I had them on maybe for 1/2 hour before these photos were taken. That's how long these linen and lycra pants took to stretch out.  I have another pair of linen and lycra pants that are not quite as bad, but they stretch out quickly too. Like a lot of sewists I like lycra in my pants since it make them more comfortable. These pants are  made from my tnt pants pattern and when I put them on they look perfect, hang beautifully and feel good.  I am thinking that it's time to give up lycra, at least in  combination with linen. I have cotton twill or sateen with lycra and that works fine.  It's also not an issue with a pair of wool lycra crepe pants I made.  The top is my interpretation of Hot Patterns drape back t shirt.  the front, sleeves and yoke are made from a dark gray print over a lighter gray rayon jersey from emmaonesock. No lycra in the print.  The back is a light weight rayon lycra from the 50% sale at Elliot Berman a while back.  It was a much lighter weight than I expected it and couldn't use it for a skirt, but it's perfect for this top.

This top is silk jersey with point d'esprit stretch mesh  for the sleeves and neck binding.that I made last year.  The pants are my tnt pant in a really nice weight cotton lycra from the Sewing Workshop from the designer Derek Lam. I wore this for the rehearsal dinner in the herb garden. Gorgeous setting!

The pergola we ate under.  It's covered in wisteria that must be gorgeous when it's in bloom.

Sunday Brunch

Yet another version of my tnt t shirt pattern and pants.  The top fabric is from emmaonesock. It's an almost tissue weight rayon jersey.  I always cut my t shirts with a 1" side seam so that I can adjust the fit to the amount of stretch in the fabric. This is thin and has little stretch, so I sewed it using up most of the ease.  But it caused me issues with the neckband. It stretched out so much that I ended up taking in a dart from the neck edge almost to the shoulder at the shoulder seam. Maybe 5/8" meaning I took out 1 1/4" at the neck edge.  It worked fortunately because taking off the neckband was just not an option on this very fine knit.  

The pants are in a wonderful, hard to find rayon crepe from Marcy Tilton.  I've got enough left over for a vest that I didn't have time to make for my trip. Another Helmut Lang garment is the inspiration.  

Yesterday was my 64th birthday and I made good use of my wedding wardrobe our dinner out.

The same tnt pants pattern after an evenings wear. Much better than the gray linen pants, but still stretched out a bit,  I think that I will stop buying fabric with lycra to use for pants.  

That's the end of wedding related posts friends. It was fun, and I really enjoyed wearing what I sewed and got lots of complements.

My son, daughter and grandson are coming for visit for a week, getting here on Wednesday. We have been looking forward to this for awhile. The beach, the ride on train at South Haven park and the Aquarium in Riverhead; we've got lots of plans for the week. Not a lot of sewing will be going on.

Have a great 4th of July everyone.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jen and Jay's Wedding in Ojai, California

We are back from my nephew's wedding at the Ojai Valley Inn and Spa in Ojai, California. Wow.  We had an amazing time; what a great place to have a wedding.    Ojai and the surrounding area is lovely, with great trails to walk and bike and hiking up into the mountains. The spot at top is Sesar Canyon.  Our instructions were to drive up past the houses until we couldn't drive any further.Early in the morning it was cool and lovely.

 We visited an artisan small olive oil producer in the center of olive and orange groves and bought delicious local olive oil and flavored, aged balsamic vinegar from Italy.
The town is lovely with good restaurants, galleries and shops. Even if you don't have a wedding to go to, this is a great place to vacation.

But, this is a sewing blog and I'm sure you are more interested in what I wore to the wedding. 

In an earlier post on what the hell  was I going to wear to this wedding I decided to copy these two pieces from Helmut Lang.

To make the pieces dressier I chose to make them in black 11 ounce rayon lycra jersey from emmaonesock and lengthened the skirt.  Both pieces are self drafted, of which I am very proud. My tnt tee shirt  was the base for  top draft.  I don't think that this is how the original was drafted, but I like how it came out. I had found a couple of methods for drafting a cowl neck but nothing that would give me an exact replica of the top. I did have some issues with the shoulder position. It  made me realize that the shoulder seam position on my original pattern is too far forward.  It's not an issue when the front and back seams are the same angle, but it did matter here. I had to adjust the shoulder angle on the back piece after some trial and error and  had to cut another front.

The skirt started out as a Burda pencil skirt.  The top layer is slightly gathered at the left hip. the shape, as you can see of the front pieces are not identical. It wasn't hard to draft, but it needed to be worked out in the muslin I made. It's not exactly the same as the original;  I'll call it 'inspired' by.  The waistband is attached, but narrower then on the original.  It's also elastic. There's really not much to say about these pretty simple pieces. They were easy to sew and great for packing.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Do You Have a Go To Garment That You Love to Sew?

In the middle of my marathon vacation/wedding  sew I had issues with the top to my wedding outfit.  The first front got a bit of fusible interfacing on it front and center. I got it off but it left a stain. Off to Emmaonesock to order more jersey. Fortunately I ordered two yards. Why you ask?  Because I ruined the second front and finally cut a third one that worked.  I had issues with the draft of the back cowl being to pointy at the shoulder point and it created a problem when I sewed it up. Trying to fix it I f... it up.  I redrafted the shoulder and re cut and sewed it up. I am in the middle of hemming it now.  Thank goodness.  The outfit looks good but whether it will be dressy enough, who knows.  The dress code is "Dress for a festive summer evening". I am not the only one who asked WTF does that mean? 

What did I sew while I waited for the fabric?  Pants. That's my go to garment when I am frustrated or need to renew my sewing mojo.  They are simple, plain pants.  I don't tuck my tops in so I prefer a plain top with the least amount of bulk.  I really do need to work out a pocket that is sturdy and low key and flat so that I can have a place to put my phone.  The only thing that I change on them is the width and length.  I just sewed up 2 pairs that fit because they are from my tnt pattern.  I did fit as I sew because one piece of fabric has lycra and one doesn't.  Fabric does really make a difference in fit.  The non stretch is a rayon crepe that drapes almost as well as wool crepe.  Light and perfect for summer. 

The stretch pair are these python print cotton. Definitely a different kind of fit from crepe.  The fabric is Derek Lam from The Sewing Workshop.  You know I'm a sucker for an animal print! This one is a lovely quality. I don't see myself having time for a photo shoot before we go, so you'll have to settle for these shots for the time being. I've finished 3 tops, a skirt and two pairs of pants. I have  the green silk top that goes with these pants and maybe another top and pair of pants to sew. Depends on time.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

A New Iron

Right in the middle of my marathon vacation/wedding sew my Consew gravity feed iron conked out.   Of course the first thing I did was  have Seth  take a look at it.  If Seth can't fix something it just can't be fixed. Unfortunately he couldn't fix it. It needs a new switch which isn't readily available. He did take it out to see if he could find one, but in the meantime I needed a new iron.  My previous iron is a Rowenta which I still have and Seth uses.  It's a bit underwhelming after having a gravity feed iron.  I remembered that I'd gotten an email from Wawak  with $20 off on a Hot Steam SGB-600 gravity feed iron which brought it down to $89. Even their regular price is good.  Seth did a search for it online and came up with a price of $150. Of course I called and ordered it. It was delivered Tuesday morning.  After unpacking and setting it up I turned it on.
Wow.  This is better than my Consew ever was. It heats up faster and the temperature gauge seems more accurate.  The amount of steam is just phenomenal. All in all this is a terrific iron and I am enjoying using it.  

If you aren't familiar with a gravity feed iron, there is a water bottle, which you can see above, that has to hang 36" above the iron.  I have it hanging from the beam above the end of my pressing table. This one holds nearly a gallon which lasts a long time even using it all day.  You have to use it with resin beads that absorb the impurities in water.  If you wanted to use it with distilled water I would guess that  might work as well.  The iron comes with a packet of resin, a non stick iron shoe, the hose, and all of the hardware needed to hang it plus a cleaning kit.  The resin is blue and when it turns mostly brown it's time to change them.  It lasts quite awhile.  By the way, I happened to order two packets of it a couple of days before my iron conked out, so I'm set for awhile.
I've only been using it for a couple of days but it was love at first press. If you are in need of a good iron it's on sale this month for the same $89 I paid for it for the month of June. I added a silicon pressing sheet to the order which brought it up to $100 and got me free shipping.  

My sewing is going well. I've completed the skirt, two tops and a pair of pants.  I am working on the cowl back top. I've got a pair of black rayon crepe pants and a gray cotton linen lycra pair cut out and ready to sew. I want to make one more top I think if I have time.
I wasted most of yesterday trying to alter a sleeveless jacket pattern or vest that I decided I needed.  I gave up. I cannot figure out how to alter a side panel with dart to fit properly.  I've looked online and nobody has shown how to make an fba in this style.  If anyone has any advice on this, please let me know.  I made a usual fba adding to the short dart then I rotated the extra into a shoulder dart since a short fat dart just doesn't sew well. The problem is gaping at the armhole.  I'll come back to it since I really like the style. I am copying another Helmut Lang piece using this Burda pattern.  It's minimalist with a contemporary twist that's right up my alley.  Some of their clothing is too exposed for me, but a lot of it is definitely wearable by an older woman looking for casual clothing with a contemporary vibe. Of course it doesn't come in my size.  So isn't it great that I can sew it up myself?

This is the pattern I'm using to knock off this Helmut Lang vest or sleeveless jacket.


The larger sizes of this vest have a short dart at the seam.  Any ideas on altering it readers?

Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Colette Guide to Sewing Knits, a review

This was one of my  Mother's Day gifts from my children. One sewing book and one gardening book. I had added it to my Amazon wish list because the free chapter looked good.  The book is unfortunately,  disappointing on so many levels. 

The photos are of poor quality and way to small to illustrate the techniques being demonstrated.  There are too many photos of tools that could be better shown in one larger, clearer photo. I have no clue why she chooses to use such a shallow depth of field. It's rather irritating to have a picture of a slip with one breast in focus and the other out of focus due to that shallow depth of field she seems so fond of.  It's useful when you want to isolate a portrait in the landscape to focus on the figure, but one breast in and one out of focus?  None of the photos are particularly crisp which makes them less than useful.  
The other issue I have with the photos is that light colored garments are shown against nearly identical background colors making what is being shown nearly  indiscernible. There are some photos of patterns that are so faint as to be useless.

Then there are the garments being used to demonstrate  technique. It's nearly impossible to understand from the photos what is being shown.  That, and the garments aren't anywhere near being quality samples. 

The chapter on adjusting your pattern for fit leaves a lot to be desired. As a full busted woman I know that adding just to the side seam at the bust is not enough. I need to add length to go over my bust so that the front doesn't hike up.  Not so here. The rest of this chapter is just as lacking.  

The writing is fortunately far better than the photos used and there is some useful information here.  But, for me the negatives far outweigh  the pluses and I can't recommend purchasing  this book.It is a self published book and it would have really gained a lot if it had some professional help.   If you can find the Tauntion series that's out of print with it's books on The Easy Guide to  Sewing Tops and T shirts, this one is by Marcy Tilton, and  Sewing Knits by Connie Long,  you'll get a lot more and clearer information than is available in this book. 
Have a lovely Memorial Day

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Choices Made

After considering my choices I decided on the Helmut Lang separates with a  small change. I didn't like the skirt draft and decided to use another of his skirts, the one below but longer.  I made up a muslin and  played with it a bit by cutting  into the angle of the skirt until it looked good to me.  It looks good on me, but you'll have to wait until the final since I took apart the skirt to transfer the angles to my skirt draft.

Starting with my tnt knit top pattern and an article in  January 2014 issue in Threads by Londa Rohlfing to draft the cowl back.  The first one wasn't low enough, so I went back to the original pattern and redrafted it for a lower cowl.  Both muslins are worth finishing since they make very nice tops that will be cool for  summer with the open back.
The pattern on the left is the first one I drafted.  The one on the right is what I'll use for my wedding outfit.  

I'm not sure that you can see it, but the one on the right has a lower, wider neckline to form the deeper cowl.

I chose Emmaonesock's 11 ounce rayon lycra jersey for the fabric.  After pre washing I'll be ready to cut out and sew.  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I opened my email this morning from Keep it Chic and saw this very chic woman wearing a rain bonnet. I haven't seen one of these since I was a teen maybe?  I know my mother wore these and I wouldn't be caught dead in one of these.  Except when I am caught in the rain without an umbrella or I don't really want to carry one anyway.  When you don't have a free hand a rain hat certainly would be welcome.  I've thought of making one for myself but I never have.  I don't mind being out in a mist, after all here in the suburbs I only have to go from the house to the car or car to store and my hair is curly so mist usually doesn't do all that much damage. But in a downpour who wants to look like a bedraggled rat?  Do any of you wear rain bonnets these days?  What do you wear in the rain?

Friday, April 4, 2014


I'm comfortable with my everyday style; I know what I like and what looks good on me and I don't have trouble figuring out what to sew or wear.  Dressy clothing is another matter,    My nephew is getting married in June in  Ojai, California.  It's an outdoor wedding and it will undoubtedly be hot until the sun goes down. It's also on the longest day of the year and so sundown will not be early!  It's not a formal wedding so I have some lee way, but it is a Saturday night.  

Part of my issue is that I want to wear sleeves, not being really happy with my upper arms. part of it is that  I am heavier than I want to be but I really don't want to wear spanx.  The heat and I don't really do all that well together and Spanx is one more layer. The third issue is that I don't want to look dowdy or boring. Really, does anyone? I also don't like lots of 'stuff' or most prints' on dresses. I like clean, minimalist clothing which is very easy to be boring in! I've been scouring sites like Net  a Porter, Bergdorf Goodman's and Saks Fifth Avenue and found a few things that I like but can't really find a pattern that will fit the bill though I've ordered several!  I found this Stella McCartney dress that I like, though the daisy print is a tad young for 'me. It's also too short, but that is an easy fix, if I can find a pattern that's close enough to alter.  I like the neckline and the front zipper.

This Helmut Lang out fit appealed to me though as it is it's not dressy enough. Maybe in all black?  I think that it appeals to me because it's separates and I can wear them separately and I'd actually be likely to wear it again.  Dressier shoes and a statement necklace would dress it up too.

I found this Oscar de la Renta dress which is similar to the first dress.

I have 10 yards of black silk linen that I bought at a Michael's sale that I'd like to use for this if I don't make the knit.  But, boring, no?
Now for the patterns.
Vogue 1397

Vogue 1380

Vogue 1349  I'd add sleeves to either of the sleeveless dresses.

Then there's this pattern that I bought awhile ago. I saw a  review on Pattern Review with it done up in a brocade, so it could work.  

Vogue 1254 

Maybe I can't make up my mind because nothing really excites me. I like the Helmut Lang outfit the best but I am not sure that it's really going to be dressy enough.  Decisions decisions.  Opinions and advice are welcome.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Making a Weighted Blanket

My son Josh asked me to make 3 weighted blankets for our grandson Jakob. These blankets are available ready made, but aside from being fairly ugly they are also expensive.  He was given an instruction sheet that was not all that helpful so he asked me to write this post so that anyone who wants to make a blanket can.  It wasn't hard after I figured out what I was doing wrong with the first one!  I somehow decided to sew 12 rows. Terrible idea.  I couldn't believe how easy it became when I used the proper number of rows!

There are 5 columns and 8 rows.

Materials: At least 1.25 yds of cotton poplin or flannel.  You need extra to account for shrinkage and straightening the ends.  Wash and dry at least twice on hot before cutting it.
5lbs of craft pellets for each blanket.

1.  For each blanket cut 2 pieces 21" x 31.5" from printed cotton.  Jakob picked out this glow in the dark astronaut print from  Unfortunately the cotton flannel he chose shrank quite a bit in width as well as length. I ended up using the fold of cloth as one side of the blanket instead of being able to seam it, which was fine.
 2.   Using 1/2" seams sew the sides and bottom. Either use a serger or sew a second row of stitches a quarter inch from the first stitching line towards the outside edge. Fold down 1/2" and press  across the open top edge of the blanket. Press the seams.  Turn right side out.

3.  Sew 5 columns 4" wide the length of the blanket.

4.  Measure and mark the lines for the horizontal boxes that will hold the craft pellets. I found that the chalk marks rubbed off before I got very far up the blanket.  I marked all of the lines with blue masking tape on the upper side of the line before I started sewing.

5.  You'll need a scale to divide up the pellets.  5lbs or 80 ounces divided by 40 boxes comes to 2 ounces per box.  I used paper cups to fill each row.  Pin at least 1/2" below the line so that your presser foot won't get caught in the pellets.  I found that I had to take small bites in the fabric with my pins overlapping the ends so that the pellets wouldn't migrate into the sewing line. You definitely can't sew over these little pellets!  When I got towards the top I pinned each box after I filled it. They are too easy to spill out otherwise!  Here's the finished blanket.

Jakob with the finished blanket. He likes it, but he loves that the astronauts glow in the dark. 
If you have any questions please feel free to email me.