Sunday, October 19, 2014

Revisiting a Friend...

There are a few good things about actually losing some weight...a few pieces that I held onto now fit really well again.  I didn't actually mean to hold onto this dress, though. It just got packed in a bin and recently I found it when I went digging for a piece of fabric. One good thing about not buying so much fabric this year is looking for older pieces to use!  Anyway, I found this dress...Simplicity 3631...which I made in January 2008.

In 2008

Simplicity 3631 was a really hot pattern back in 2008. It was one of the first patterns from the Simplicity/Threads collaboration.  The jacket that was included in the pattern was made quite a few times on PatternReview. I actually made the jacket with a few changes to "corporatize it" with a matching skirt and that suit is still in my closet. 

The dress though had a slimmer shape and was a challenging pattern to fit. The black version was actually my second attempt at sewing this dress. My first one is blogged here. This post has a little more pattern alteration information in it. Honestly though, I'm surprised that I made it again because I had such a hard time getting the pattern to fit.

I rotated it out of my wardrobe a few years ago when I gained some menopausal weight. So when I found it, tried it on, I couldn't believe it fit again...guess I have lost a bit of weight!  

A few pictures...

Alone ~ now

With my favorite RTW black cardigan
back and front view

circa 2011

So I just lost a favorite garment and now I've gained another one...I guess things have balanced out and that's a good thing! always more later!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Can we talk about our pattern collections?

I've been sewing since I was 11 years old and seriously collecting patterns since my 20's.  That's 44 years of sewing and over 35 years of collecting.  At one point in my 30's, I took every pattern I had put them in manilla letter sized folders, labelled them and put them into legal sized banker boxes. Then I put the pattern envelopes in plastic sleeves. The sleeves were placed in black binders and for years I used this system.

I had hundreds of patterns stored this way. Whenever a new pattern was purchased, I added it to the collection.  However, this system became cumbersome to move from place to place and I slowly stopped using it.  Then the pattern boxes were stashed in storage places and the backs of closets.  I rarely touched them...finally my daughter in an act of defiance, grace or better acceptance than myself tossed the lot in the garbage.

That did hurt and I was angry for a minute until I came to my senses.  I hadn't touched those patterns in at least a decade.  Acceptance came but I do regret that they hadn't been donated because honestly I was never going to eBay them or open an Etsy store to sell them.  My daughter's rationale, I still owned hundreds of patterns and they all currently reside in the sewing cave.

Honestly I've cut way back on my pattern purchasing because if I sew 50 pieces a year, more than half are from TNT patterns, the next 30-40% is from a variation of one of my TNT patterns so maybe 5-6 new patterns are actually sewn every year. I'm buying way more patterns than I sew now.

Thankfully I've invested in storage space in the sewing cave so most of the patterns are stored and easily accessible. I have only one troublesome area...where new patterns are presently being "dumped" upon their arrival in the cave. But this drop off place is also helping me to realize that I need to sew more from the stashed patterns and be more judicious with my purchasing.

So let's talk about why we buy so many patterns?  For me, it's the inspiration...the creative stimulation...and the hopes and dreams.  At the time I'm purchasing a steeply discounted pattern, I don't think about if I'll ever actually sew the pattern, or where I'm going to store it...I'm only thinking of the dream.  That amazing garment that I'm going to have a thrilling time constructing and the ooohhhs and aaaahhhs that are going to come when I wear it. Seriously, every pattern I've purchased, I've imagined it sewn up. Can't see a possibility for it, I don't plunk down the credit card for it. So what is it for you?

Why do you buy patterns?  Why do you hold onto patterns that you bought years ago and have never used?  Do you have enough storage space for them or are you just jamming them anywhere?

Talk back to me because this is the Question of the Day! always more later!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'm in Mourning...

I made this skirt a couple of years ago...

...I went to try it on to wear to work last week and it no longer fits...too into the giveaway bag it went...because I don't alter, I sew.  Over the years I've been meaning to make another one.  Well I guess I now need to add it to my fall/winter sewing list.

Instead as I was putting the taupey beige ponte back into storage, I realized that it coordinated well with a new cardigan I'd recently purchased.  Still being heartbroken from losing that skirt, I whipped up a quick basic elastic waist skirt from my TNT skirt pattern which would give me a new outfit to wear to work.

A few details...

Have you ever had a slight issue with pushing the elastic through the channel and having it get stuck at the seams?  I solve this problem by stitching down both sides of the seams.  After the elastic is inserted and the waistband stitched closed, I add a row of stitching in the side seam..."stitch in the ditch" to hold the elastic steady.

A ribbon at the back waistline to tell the front from the back...

A little stitch witchery in the hemline instead of a row of stitching...

In 90 minutes a great new skirt to go with the new cardigan and a RTW tank:

I definitely plan on making another Vogue 1247 skirt soon... always more later!

Monday, October 13, 2014

McCalls 6988 - Final

Let's start with a picture ~

This is another one of those closer fitting dresses that I'm trying to get used to although mine is not as fitted as some other versions I've seen. The pattern alterations are in this post and the inspiration for the dress in this one.

Here's the stats:

Fabric ~
The dress is made from ponte fabric all from Fabric Mart.  The print has been in the collection for at least two years possibly three.

Notions ~
beige rayon bemburg lining
22" beige invisible zipper
black piping

Construction Details ~
I used the D Cup pattern pieces for the dress front. However for my next version, I think I'm only going to remove 1/2" from the inch I added to the center front piece.  The front seams are just a smidge past my bust points...not something noticeable but something I notice when I'm wearing the dress.

Following the inspiration dress, I colorblocked the back of the dress and for the zipper insertion, I added fusible interfacing to the center back seam.

I added a lining to the body of the dress although the pattern doesn't suggest it. I would have only worn a slip with it so for convenience sake I lined it. I did use a rayon bemberg lining with the ponte. I've used this lining before and have never had an issue with it. So I went with what's worked for me before.

Black piping was also added to the neckline. I like how this adds a finishing touch to the dress front...however, I did stretch the neckline out on the dress front. I think it happened during the week I allowed the dress to hang. I needed to make some adjustments to the lining to make it work.

The sleeve hems were topstitched down while the hemline of the dress has stitch witchery in it to finish the hem. I went back and forth over whether to topstitch the hem or handstitch it. Finally I decided that the stitch witchery was a cleaner finish.

A few more pictures of the dress ~

I've included this one because my daughter
likes it ~ me I'm not so sure!

These were taken in the house in the evening.  I can definitely tell the difference between these and some outside shots we did earlier in the day. However, I'm trying to experiment with the lighting in the house because it's getting darker earlier & earlier and I only have the weekends to sew. It seems to limit the amount of sewing time I have...gawd I miss summer!

Anyway, I really love the dress and I'm glad that I made the ponte version first. It gave me some ideas on what I need to do for the pink wool & lace one which I've decided I want to wear to the company Holiday Party. So I've pushed it's construction back to November.

This wasn't the only sewing I did this weekend so stayed tuned for more. always more later!  

Saturday, October 11, 2014

The Pants Project

The temperatures are dropping here on the East Coast and I actually wore a pair of pants to work this week. Granted they were an unlined, ltwt. wool blend pair but they were pants.  It got me to thinking about my *sigh* winter wardrobe and I realized that I'm still lacking pants.  

Once upon a time, I'd sewn five pairs of black wool pants for my winter wardrobe. It was a goal I set and it took awhile to reach.  I was so proud when I got there that I immediately moved on...not realizing that I would need to keep that up if I wanted to retain those five pairs of pants. Unlike my dresses, my pants get alot more wear during the fall/winter, especially if it's a particularly cold winter.

However, I have some challenges ~

1.  I only have one box of 15 yards of the Dritz soft & easy stretch elastic.

This will allow me to make five more pairs of pants.  Probably enough for this winter and this winter alone. I've looked everywhere, googled and just can't find any more of this elastic which is depressing.  I know there are other elastics out there and I will probably have to work with some to come up with one that works for me...but I'm not looking forward to this...challenge.

2.  I need to alter my pants pattern again because even my thin leg trouser pant looks too big in the current skinny pant environment.  Now I'm never going to wear skintight skinny pants...but my pants legs need to be some pattern work is involved...challenge.

3.  There are only two pairs of black wool crepe pants currently in rotation.  Do I use up elastic for three more pair or do I go in another direction.  My first thought is to sew the black pants because they work with everything and will work in my professional work wardrobe...but do I really want to do that since I'd really like another plaid pair and maybe even a small dark floral pair...challenge.

4. Then there is this pile of pants that need to be altered aka stretched out elastic removed and new elastic added. I really want to repair them and add them back into the rotation...but that takes away from the elastic stash.  So do I fix them or ditch them...challenge.

5.  Maybe it's time I try another pants pattern with a zipper closing. My fitting skills and sewing skills have improved since I last tried a maybe I should stretch my sewing skills and go there...challenge.

6.  I don't own a lot of pants patterns. I do, however, own a lot of patterns and these pairs of pants that I'm thinking of using are included in wardrobe patterns. Although, I really didn't even notice them when I purchased the patterns. All of these have now caught my eye so they will be considered for new pairs of pants.

As the title of the post says this is "The Pants Project" and I will be working on it for the rest of the fall & winter.  In January/February of this year I made four pairs of pants. Add them to the two pairs of black wool crepe pants, a pair of brown wool crepe pants, a gray pair that I made last year & want to rework, and a couple of other pairs. That means I will have ten wearable pairs of pants. I would like to end up with 15 to 20 pairs especially since this winter is predicted to be snowier and colder than last year. I want to be ready since I hate the cold!

There will be more talk of The Pants Project here on the blog. Especially when I embark on the journey of using the new pants patterns, as well as, altering my existing pants pattern yet again.

Next up is the finished dress ~ McCalls 6988. always more later!

Thursday, October 09, 2014

McCalls 6988 - Pattern Alterations

The pattern alterations for this pattern weren't very extensive but then again I did start with my TNT dress pattern to make them.  I also only made changes to the front pattern pieces since I decided to use my back pattern pieces for the back of the dress.

Here are the alterations I made:

Yoke front:
This piece was sliced from  the bottom to the top and spread 
1.25" at the bottom.  I used pattern paper from Dick Blick 
to hold the pattern alteration.**

Side Front:
~ Added 2" to the bottom of the piece
~ Added 1" to the side waist area
I also added an inch to the top of the side front piece but 
I later removed it because I didn't need it.

Center Front Piece:

~ Added 1" to the center front
~ Added 2" to the bottom of the piece

That was the extent of the pattern alterations. Once I cut the fabric out and laid it out on the cutting table, I could see how the alterations worked.  

I'm really thrilled with how this dress is turning out and will have finished shots of it next weekend. always more later!

**You can also get the tracing paper at Amazon.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

I've Been Remiss...

One - I've been meaning to give wearability reports on a couple of my recent makes and I'm just getting around to it. 

Two - most importantly, I want to say thank you to everyone who has left such kind remarks about my latest garments.  I appreciate that not only do you read my blog postings but you also stop, leave a comment, suggestion, or a helpful hint. So it's important to me that I acknowledge that. Especially when I write a talk back post, because the resulting conversations are wonderful & informative and I so value & respect your responses.

Now onto the wearability reports...let's start with the latest make first...

The Tri-Color Ponte Dress ~
This was a hands down winner not only for the color but the fit too.  It was comfortable to wear, garnered a lot of compliments and is a perfect late summer/early fall dress.  The only comment I have is that if I make this dress again (and I'm thinking about it because I own a lot of ponte) is that I would make a slimmer sleeve.  Otherwise this dress was the reason why we sew ~ to get the garment we want, in the colors we want, and the perfect fit.  

The Bubble Dress ~
Another attention getting dress because of the color and print...however, this dress photographs better than it looks in real life.  Washing and drying this ponte took away the finishing on the fabric and left it a little "pilled" looking. A look that I couldn't even photograph - see this is where my photography skills are definitely lacking. So even for the first wearing, it looked as if it had been worn several times before...even my boss noticed the difference. So the fabric was most definitely a fail.  However, because the dress is my TNT pattern, it was very comfortable to wear.  It won't get worn as much as the lilac floral print inspiration dress but I will wear it again...albeit with a cardigan so that you don't see quite so much fabric.

The FatQuarter Dress ~
This one was a winner - stylewise, fabric-wise, and wearability wise.  The linen didn't create a lot of wrinkles while wearing because it was underlined in silk organza.  The side panel is unexpected and adds a touch of whimsy to a basic work dress. Of course, it wore well, it is my TNT pattern after all and it garnered a lot of compliments...especially from those that followed it's progress on Instagram.

This is my last summer dress and I've included it in the wearability report because I want to make another version of Butterick 5821 with longer sleeves for late fall/early winter. I originally made this dress for winter in a laminated ponte version but I really want a wool crepe one. Since I have plenty of wool crepe on hand, it's just a matter of choosing the colors for the next one.

Butterick 5821 - The Summer Version ~
I knew this would wear well because I already own a ponte winter version. The unknown in this version is the linen fabric but since it's a heavier embroidered linen, the wrinkle factor is practically non-existent. This was just a great dress which also garnered compliments. On another note, I realize that I have a spring green version of this linen that I will have to use next summer.

Finally, one last note, I have lost about 25 pounds in the last couple of months which I think you're finally starting to see in my body, legs and ankles. Although the fat just seems to be sliding down my arms...*sigh*...but that's what cardigans are for right?!  Anyway, I thought I should share that along with the fact that I am still wearing shapers under my clothing which also adds to the new slimmer appearance. Some of my dresses from just two years ago are starting to be quite loose, so there will be some heavy duty purging going on soon. always more later!

Sunday, October 05, 2014

My Serger Is Ill

I knew something was wrong the last time I changed the took forever to get the air to push the thread through the bottom looper...but I walked away...gave the serger a time out...came back a couple of hours later and it worked.  When I went to change the threads today, I almost didn't.  I mean I'm going to line the dress so who cares what color the serger threads are, right? Yeah right, someone who is so anal about thread changing that I change it for everything.

Today I just couldn't get that looper to thread no matter how many times I tried to insert the thread and pushed the air whoosh handle.  So off to the dealer it will go next weekend.

Now it's not necessary to complete/sew a garment with a serger.  I told myself that over and over again today as I finished up McCalls 6988. Honestly though I've used a serger for finishing for the last 20 years, so it's a hard habit to break.

Anyway, my serger is down for the count. I will be sewing without it until it returns from the shop, unless someone has a handy tip that I can use to make it work again. always more later!


Saturday, October 04, 2014

McCalls 6988 - The Idea for the Ponte Version

I've been carrying this idea for a dress around in my head since 2008 when the first Sex and the City movie came out.

I loved the concept of the three different fabrics in the front and back of the dress but never got around to making it.  My original plan was to use my TNT dress and cut the pattern up to achieve this look after I was dissuaded from using a Vogue pattern.  Luckily for me, McCalls issued a pattern recently that I can use to make my version of this dress so I'm starting with McCalls 6988.

Now in my head I knew that I had a yard and a half of a floral ponte that I purchased a couple of years ago from Tessuti Fabrics.  I really wanted to start with that piece.  However, the piece isn't as vivid in real life as I remembered it, and no matter what I placed it with, it didn't work. Now during this exercise I once again realized just how much ponte fabric I've collected...*sigh*

So 30 minutes in, I switched up fabrics.  I changed some fabrics out using this graphic ponte as my base print and ended up with this combination ~

I really liked this combination but when I posted it to Instagram there were some suggestions about changing out the starker white ponte for a taupey beige one. So I dug around in the ponte cabinet and found one ~ here's the next combination...

This combination is a little less jarring than the first one and looks more like fall. I'm going with this one for my Sex & The City Dress. I won't be adding the belt in the front or the back.  No need to call attention to what I have an abundance of - y'know! 

I also think I'm going to make 3/4 length sleeves instead of short sleeves. I want to wear the dress without a topper. Finally the last change I will make is to the back.  McCalls 6988 has two back pieces with darts to give definition to the back. As I've previously said, I hate darts so I will use my 4 back pattern pieces for the dress...but to make it look more like the STC Dress...I will use the taupey beige ponte for the center back and the black ponte for the sides. Essentially the front and back will be the same except that there won't be a back yoke. I haven't decided if I want to go that far with pattern adjustments.

So I will be making two versions of this dress...the ponte one and the wool tweed/lace version. I've already started the pattern alterations for this dress. Will have more to share this weekend...maybe I can get the ponte dress cut, sewn and modelled before the weekend is over...hopefully! always more later!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tri-Color Ponte Dress Final

In the week's time between cutting out the fabric and stitching it together, I realized that I did not like the color combination I was using.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the combo except that it didn't pop for me.  So I changed it up a little, resulting in this dress ~

Now this dress has a lot of color and not what I normally wear to work. However, how many black dresses can I own? This dress also has a tighter fit and a slimmer silhouette due to the seaming and my fabric choices. 

There are no new sewing techniques in this dress.  Yet another reason for sewing a TNT dress - no fitting challenges and no sewing surprises.  It is also an exercise in lazy sewing. Originally I was going to add a lining...once I was actually sewing the dress...nope didn't want one.  I considered adding fusible interfacing to the center back seam for the zipper...nope didn't add any...and the dress turned out okay. Turned down the neckline seam and the hemlines at the sleeve and dress hem, added some stitch witchery in the hems and topstitched them down.

See sometimes I just want to sew up a cute dress.  I don't want to get involved...lose myself in construction, rip and sew again. Sometimes I just want to sew a cute a dress and that's just what this dress is.  

So some stats...
Pattern ~
TNT dress pattern altered from an already altered version of the pattern.

Fabric ~
Berry ponte from Fabric Mart
Black ponte from Fabric Mart
Black & White print ponte from Fabric Mart

Notions ~
22" berry invisible zipper

Here is the inspiration dress again ~

Besides the color and print changes, the designer original sells for $995. It's made from a 53% wool/47% rayon blend and is unlined. My version is from rayon/lycra ponte blends and costs about $20. Approximately $18 for the fabric and about a $1 for the zipper all from The Sewing Cave.  In my book this was a very successful interpretation of the designer garment.

A few more pictures of the dress ~

I know we say all the time that we shouldn't point out the faults in our garments, but I'm so-so on the sleeves.  They could be better...but since this is lazy sewing...they are okay...and I will wear the dress as is.  What's really interesting is that everyone who saw me in the dress said how pretty it was. I really think the color combo is so striking that it's what you notice the most.

Next on the cutting table is McCalls 6988.  

I have two versions planned - the one discussed here and another one that I want to try with some knits first.  These are involved sews so it will be a minute before the finished garments appear on the blog. always more later!


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