Monday, February 19, 2018

Shirt Inspiration

It's been awhile since I posted.  Some of it was because I was on a sewing tear and didn't want to stop to post and take pictures...and then this weekend, I got the crud again. It came and went faster this time, probably because I didn't try to fight it not wanting to make myself sicker. So I went to bed and sweated it out even though I had a full weekend of sewing planned.

I don't have any finished garments to share. Those will be in future posts but I did want to talk a little about what I'm obsessing over sewingwise ~ SHIRTS!


(from Chicos.com)

(Love the floral shirt and the matching tank with shirt is nice too!
These are from ColdwaterCreek.com)

I bought the lace for an all lace shirt last year - now to just make it!

(This one would be great to use up shirting scraps)

A few things I've learned that I like when making shirts ~
1. I like a longer shirt - something thigh length and butt covering
2. I like a princess seam front, yoked back with full lower back silhouette
3. The cuffs is one of the details I like to change up
4. The buttonband on the front can be cut on or sewn on - both work but the sewn on version allows me to add some more visual details to the shirt.
5. A mandarin collar works just as well as a collar and collar stand version.
6. I like a fuller shirt rather than a fitted one.

Mostly though I like making shirts because of the details. They aren't a simple sew, there are steps you need to follow and making them allows you to use a variety of sewing skills.


(Isn't that an amazing detail on the button band!)

Shirts are also versatile pieces in my wardrobe and have become my new dress - the garment I love to sew and wear. I can wear shirts over jeans, leggings or my denim skirts. They can be worn closed or open...with a tank top, sleeveless turtleneck or t-shirt. I can change up the details on each shirt to make each one distinctive while maintaining the silhouette I like. All of this is challenging me creatively especially since I've collected quite a few shirting fabrics.



(Details on my latest shirt - just waiting to be photographed!

There are numerous shirt patterns currently available. You can buy them from the indie designers, Grainline Studio & Cashmerette to name a few, or from one of the Big4 pattern companies. My TNT is a combination of Butterick 5678 and Vogue 7700 both of which are out of print. I've used this pattern combo six times, so my fitting challenges are all worked out...now the fun sewing begins.

That's what's under my sewing machine needle and on my cutting table. Hopefully I will have some pics of finished garments (a couple of shirts and a vest) to share with you soon.

Thanks to everyone who left such thoughtful comments on my last two posts. I really appreciate that everyone felt free to leave their opinion whether they agreed or disagreed with me and that the discussion remained civil. 

...as always more later!



Friday, February 09, 2018

Do you ever feel like you don't sew enough?

I pose the question because if you're on Social Media (Instagram, Facebook, Blogs) it seems as if garment after garment passes our screens (phone, iPad, Computer) with different sewists turning out these amazing pieces in the blink of an eye!

Now I'm a pretty quick sewist but I do go through my dry spells.  Times when my mind thinks about sewing but I'm just not motivated to go through the act of actually constructing a garment. I also think I'm a pretty productive sewist but even I sometimes wonder how the other sewists get all of that sewing done.

I'm sure that I'm not alone with these thoughts. Especially since sewing is no longer a solitary thing. You make a garment now and you can discuss all the ins and outs of the pattern/fabric in a Facebook Group or ask a question on Instagram and get instanteous reactions.

So the Question of the Day is, "Do you ever feel like you don't sew enough?"  This can be compared to other sewists, your fabric collection, the new pattern collection releases, etc.

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

...as always more later!

Saturday, February 03, 2018

The Year of Sewing from the Collection

It's the third day of February and I made some decisions last year about what direction I want to take my sewing in for 2018. There were two main things I wanted to refrain from:

(Yes there is now a row of fabric behind the cutting table as high as the table.
Nevermind the fabric that's still on the shelves surrounding the Sewing Cave)

1. Buying more fabric. 
I think I could sew for the next 20 years and STILL have plenty of fabric. It really hit me last year when I needed to find something and realized that I had to move around soooooo much fabric to find it. That's not good...even for me!  But I wasn't sure that I could pledge to not purchase any more fabric because I LOVE fabric...LOVE IT!

(Moving fabric around to find a piece)

So my first challenge was to stop purchasing from Fabric Mart...
I met that challenge. I haven't purchased anything from FM in three months. As time goes by, it gets easier not to purchase fabric. So my goal now is not to buy anything until I go to Sew Camp at the end of March.  Even then I'm limiting myself to just three pieces.

My next challenge is that I can't say I won't purchase fabric anymore. 
I've never been able to totally stop purchasing fabric because I LOVE fabric! And I don't want to make that empty pledge again. Then Elliott Berman came to the rescue by collaborating with me. Giving me the opportunity to slake the new fabric thirst whenever I need a fix, especially because I have to use it right away, I can't store it. That's made it easy for me to say that I won't buy new fabric now.

With those pieces in place, I've honestly been thrilled to shop my collection. I've been finding some amazing fabrics on the shelves and rethinking how to use some of it. Now that I'm shopping less, I'm going to try to keep track of fabric in and out this year - praying that the out number is greater than the fabric in number. I'd like to know just how much fabric would come out of the collection in a year, if I only sew from it.

I've made/posted to the blog four garments in January - three garments from fabric from the collection and the shirt from the Elliott Berman piece. The three garments from the collection used 9.5 yards. I'm not counting the Elliott Berman fabric because it came into the collection in December 2017. So right now I'm 9.5 yards out and no yards in! YES!


I believe that will be my story for February too - yardage out but no yardage in. At least I hope so! *LOL* Well I actually know it will be, so I'm finally ready to discuss it here. Putting it in black 'n white makes me accountable to everyone, cause you know I'm into honesty and transparency.

2. Buying stuff
Since I haven't really been purchasing things for myself in December and January, I want to keep that up too. I own a lot of stuff...clothing, shoes, jewelry and other things. I really don't want to add anything unnecessary in 2018. I want to use what I have. Even though I'm not joining the RTW Fasters with Sarah at Goodbye Valentino, my plan is not to purchase any garments this year either. I want to make it myself, work around it, or do without it. 

My end of month recap for January is:
4 garments made/blogged
9.5 yards of fabric out of the collection
No fabric in

I'm presently working on a black version of my TNT shirt. That will be the next finished garment on the blog. I hope you will accompany me on this journey this year...it should be very interesting to say the least!

...as always more later!



Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Simplicity 8059 in a Blackbird Fabric

I like this pattern. I really, really like this pattern! Obviously I do since this is my 7th version of it and I have a few more pieces of fabric dedicated to making more. For winter I like layering pieces and this cardigan makes a fantastic layering piece.  


See I have a rule when it gets extremely cold - 2 layers under my coat sleeve and since I sit near the front door at my job - those 2 layers are necessary to keep me warm during the day.

Simplicity issued this as a summer pattern and there were some amazing versions of it made by the sewing community for spring/summer. However, I always saw it as a fall/winter cardigan because of the ease of wearing and the ability to do some funky things with the front tie.

Materials Used ~
My last version was a wool jersey one.  This new one is influenced by a piece of fabric that Gillian from Crafting a Rainbow was gifted by BlackBird Fabrics. When I saw the fabric I fell in love and had to have a piece. I also wanted to try out BlackBird Fabrics since they are a new to me online fabric spot. I have to tell you the experience was wonderful. I received my fabric quickly even though it came from Canada and the quality is amazing. An aside here to say that I received the fabric faster than I have from some online spots in the US!

Since I've made this pattern so many times there are no new sewing challenges or techniques here. I let the fabric and the funky ribbon purchased from Joyce Trimmings speak.

A few pictures ~





As I said above, I have plans to make more of these cardigans because they work for my lifestyle...and because they are a wonderful showcase for interesting and pretty fabrics.

This was the first project from my Christmas Sewcation. It was a wonderful way to start because I got something accomplished right out the gate. 

Final shot ~
The girls were here with their Mother while we took pictures. However, they spent most of their time inside on the iPad and watching TV.  They ventured outside for just this picture...so here's Sammy posing with me and Aleena streaking by in the background! Please notice the pink ~ this little girl loves pink and she wears a little of it or a lot every day ~ even her sneakers have a little pink in them!


...as always more later!



Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Boucle Vogue 9286

This is my second completed garment in "The Crazy 8 Wardrobe Plan - Vogue 9286."


I bought this pattern last summer because I liked the big slouchy top. I thought it would work well over a turtleneck or crew neck top and some jeans or leggings. That it would add a little polish to my casual work wardrobe as well as a little warmth during the winter season.

Normally I put my pattern conclusions at the bottom of my post but I've moved this one up to the top of the post. Why? Because as usual a Vogue Easy Pattern is easy to sew but not easy to fit. I made the classic mistake of looking at the measurements and thinking wow, with all of that space I won't have to make any adjustments for my abundant abdomen or bodacious booty...ummmm wrong! I cut out the largest size an XXL and I should have started with a size L instead of the one I chose. It was just toooooo much fabric on my body!


Materials ~
Pink Boucle fabric from Fabric Mart (purchased December 2016)
Black Ponte remnant
Design Plus Bias Tape Fusible Stay Tape
Two 1" black covered snaps



Pattern Alterations ~
Originally the only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen the front and back pieces by 3" at the lengthen/shorten line.  I wanted my top to be more tunic length than top length. I like my abdomen and some of my thighs as well as all of my bottom covered.

Because the sleeves are off the shoulder, extra large and gathered into a cuff, I didn't need to make any changes to the pattern. That was a plus for this pattern.

Construction Techniques ~
Since I was using a very ravelly boucle, I needed to serge finish the edges of the fabric as quickly as possible. But I didn't want to stretch the neckline or armholes out by handling the fabric too much.  So I ironed fusible stay tape to the neckline, the shoulder seams and the armholes. Sewed the pattern as per the pattern instructions and then disaster struck!


I tried the garment on and it was huge...HUGE!  As I said above...I chose the wrong size to begin with so because of that I had to take the top apart, cut it down and sew it back together. The first change I made was to was the front.  The v-neckline was flopping around since there was just too much space. To solve this challenge, I cut it down the front and sewed it back together with a 1" seam allowance. Even cutting down the facing and reapplying it. This change allowed the neckline to lay flat.

The second issue was that the sleeves were hanging too far down my arms. Luckily, I'd only basted the garment together to try it on. So I removed the basted side seams and the sleeves from the body of the top. I cut 1.5" off each side of the body. I added the bias tape back to the armhole, serge finished it and then sewed the sleeve back on.  This solved the problem of the drooping sleeve. However, I still had to cut 1" off the bottom of the sleeve because it made the cuff droop down my hand.

Since I'd basted the sides with a 1.5" seam allowance, I trimmed off 5/8" and then sewed the side seams with 5/8" seam allowance. Yeah alot of work right?! If I'd just believed that I needed a smaller size, I wouldn't have had to jump through hoops to make this fit.

The last touch was to add a strip of black soft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Group to the hemline after assembling the garment.


The cuffs are button cuffs but my fabric was thick and I just didn't feel like wrangling it under the sewing machine to make buttonholes, so I added black covered snaps to them.



A few pictures of the topper ~

Seeing the full extent of the topper!
Yeah, that's a lot of fabric...

My daughter making me laugh gives
a good view of the back of the topper



Conclusion ~
The construction of the garment is easy just as the pattern says, it's the fit that you will need to be careful about. I did add a few extra steps because of my sizing issue. Also I chose a very fiddly fabric to work with so I needed to do a little more work to preserve the integrity of the fabric. Then I added a piece of the selvedge as trim in the back yoke seam to give it a design element. But looking back on the process, that was the easiest part of the design.

It's a cute oversized top that will work with a turtleneck under it but I have no plans to use this pattern again. I purchased the pattern for the top only and it wasn't talking to me as I was working with it. Not sure if its because I chose the wrong size, or if this is just one of those designs that you only need one of...anyway I'm moving onto the next garment on the list for my Crazy 8 wardrobe!

...as always more later!





Wednesday, January 24, 2018

McCalls 7481 - Hack'd

This was the second piece completed during my Christmas Sewcation and the first piece of my Crazy 8 Wardrobe Plan. Just to remind you the details of the plan are in this post.

It's McCalls 7481 ~


Inspiration ~
Earlier this spring, I made this jacket using an African print. I've worn that jacket twice ~ both times out to dinner with friends. I've never worn it to work and I don't know why?  I stumbled across the inspiration jacket during my Pinterest travels. 


I follow Blair from Atlantic Pacific on Instagram, Pinterest and her blog. I'm constantly inspired by her looks and copied a garment she featured years ago too. When I saw this pic I immediately thought of McCalls 7481 as the starting point.

What I most admired about the jacket is the floral print and how it extended into the gathered bottom. It looks like it's made from a silky type fabric. However, I immediately saw it in a denim and I KNEW I had the perfect fabric in the collection to make it work.


This lightweight denim fabric is from Fabrixx in San Francisco.  Shams was shopping there and sent me a note asking if I wanted some. People seriously I have the best sewing friends! Definitely wanted some - it was just a matter of determining how much to buy...I ended up with 2 panels though later I wished I'd bought 3.

Anyhoo, when I added this jacket to my Crazy 8 Wardrobe plan I knew it would be a project. I was hacking a pattern and I was using a fabric that I hoped would work for the design. Also this style is a little out of my comfort zone. It has more of an artistic/art teacher flair to it. Clothing that I love on others but rarely make for myself.

Materials Used:
Ltwt denim border fabric from Fabrixx
Black midweight denim from Smuggler's Daughter
Ltwt fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply
Large Snaps from Pacific Trims

Pattern Alterations/Construction Techniques ~
This a great pattern to start with because it comes ready to color block.  Since I've already used the pattern all of the pattern alterations have been made to it. 


Now while the pattern has separate pieces to use in color blocking, I still traced and adjusted my already altered pieces because I didn't want to fiddle with new pattern pieces. 

My pattern changes:
1. Cut the front and back pieces adding 2" below the waistline.
2. Omit the lining since it's a denim jacket.
3. Used the front & back facing pieces I'd made for the previous jacket.
4. Omitted the pockets again ~ honestly I regret omitting now that I've worn the finished jacket.

Construction techniques:
a. Since the goal was to have a fully gathered skirt on the jacket, I used the lower front panel piece from the pattern. I cut it on the fold for the back but I used the entire length of the border print. 
b. Then I cut two front pieces from the border print using the same pattern piece.
c.  The gathering was accomplished using the dental floss technique that's worked so well for me in the past.


d. I cut the collar using a darker piece of the border print to bring some of the border print to the top of the jacket.


Sleeves ~
Let's be honest I have fat upper arms and I almost always need to make adjustments to the sleeve pattern pieces.  This pattern was no exception. Although I'd already made alterations to the sleeve pattern piece when I originally made the jacket, the sleeve didn't work as cut. I don't know if it's because my fabric is an unforgiving denim or what but they just didn't work.

Thank goodness I had enough fabric left over to recut new sleeves. I decided to add a seam down the center of the sleeve so that I could get the extra space I needed where I needed it.


By adding a center seam I solved most of my problems with how the sleeves fit and hung.  I also made the armholes a little larger when I put the sleeves in to take up some space in the jacket front that was pulling in a funny direction. 

I could tell something was wrong not only by how the jacket felt when I put it on but also how it looked. See I've started to take quick pics on my iPad when fitting. It helps me get a better idea of how a garment hangs and looks, as well as how it feels.

Now my upper arms are considerably fatter than my lower arms and wrists. So to insure that my wrists don't look like they are floating in a too big sleeve, I added ties from the border print to the bottom of the sleeve.  This way I can tie the sleeve, giving it a better fit at the wristbone.


A few construction shots ~

Pinning the gathered skirt onto the jacket 


The jacket without the sleeves after 
the bottom has been added

There was a lot of thought and care given to the interior of this jacket since it wasn't lined. I hand stitched the jacket hem as well as the sleeve hems. The front plackets were hand stitched down after I sewed the fabric covered snaps to the front bands.


A few pictures of the jacket in action ~

Wearing the jacket with a RTW pin at the neckline

Jacket front opened so you can see the covered snaps


View of the back gathered skirt

A gust of wind showing the jacket's flow

Conclusion ~
I thoroughly enjoyed making this jacket probably because I had the time to think through the challenges and execute them. I'm also thrilled that while it's not an exact replica of the inspiration jacket, it works for me.

This isn't a silhouette I usually wear and I'm even happy about that. Also, some would think this should be an outerwear jacket but it's cold here on the East Coast. It also looks like it's gonna be a very cold winter, so warm layering pieces are on my creative horizon right now.

This was my second garment of my sewcation and took the longest to complete but so worth every minute I spent working on it.

...as always more later!






Sunday, January 21, 2018

A New Collaboration and a New TNT Shirt

Anyone who knows me knows that I love Elliott Berman's fabrics.  If you come to visit the NYC Garment District either with me or ask for my recommendations, Elliott Berman is ALWAYS on the list. 


So I was thrilled and honored when Eugenia of Elliott Berman asked me to collaborate with them. Over the course of this year, I will be making several garments from fabric that can be purchased either on their website or at their site in NYC.

During the last decade or so that I've been blogging, I've made a few garments with fabric purchased from Elliott Berman. My favorite being this Versace Inspired Dress that I made in 2011 using a wool knit.


Why do I love Elliott Berman fabrics?
One reason is the quality of their fabrics. They import a selection of unique fabrics, designer goods, the diversity of their inventory and the fair pricing for the goods. Also, they are a great friend to the sewing community - sponsoring events with PatternReview.

It also didn't hurt that my friend Shams is blogging for them and spoke so highly of how easy it was to work with Eugenia and the team at Elliott Berman.  Now you don't have to go to another blog to see my makes, all of them will be here alongwith some pics on Instagram.

So this is my first garment for them - a TNT shirt from my Crazy 8 Wardrobe. 


I chose a printed cotton sateen with a tribal inspired influence for my shirt. I asked Eugenia for a shirting fabric to use as my first make. We were walking the floor and she was pulling out various fabrics for me to look at. When we got to this one, it was love at first sight!

Now while I picked this one from the NYC store/warehouse, here are some on their website that you can order if you're looking for a high quality, interesting print for a shirt. 

This is my TNT shirt pattern so there are no new techniques with this shirt. However, for this version I chose to use a mandarin collar instead of a stand and separate collar. 


To make the shirt interesting I manipulated the fabric, cutting the stripes horizontally for the cuffs, the mandarin collar and the back yoke.


I also used some interesting yellow & black buttons I had from the collection. The challenge was that I needed eight buttons and only had six. So I made a covered button for the mandarin collar and the last buttonhole carefully matching the fabric so that the buttons would blend into the garment.


Buttons, fabric manipulation, a collar change and this amazing piece of fabric are the standouts in this shirt.

A few pics of the shirt ~




As I stated above I will be making a new garment using Elliott Berman fabric about every three months. If you're on Instagram, may I suggest you follow them at ebtfabrics. They offer some amazing discounts for their Instagram followers. Also, don't hesitate to check out the website. They do ship overseas. I've ordered from them in the past, their orders ship quickly and are well packed.

I finally spent some quality time with my daughter/photographer so there will be a few more posts after this one. If you've read this far, you should know that the same daughter is the family hairdresser, and she added the curly fall to my hair for these pictures. Since we shoot several garments at once, the photos in the next couple of blog posts will also feature this hairstyle. Just thought I would tell you before you asked! 

...as always more later!





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