Monday, July 31, 2006

A Vacation Break

Last night I cleaned up my sewing area....I put away some fabric that had been laying around. I put away sewing tools and organized several patterns that I was using in my last outfits. See I am going on vacation! Yeah, really going away this time and I need to spend the next few evenings doing some things to prepare my family to leave. So this will be my last blog entry for about a week and a half! But before I left I wanted to show you how far I got on the Burda Six!

I am opening with a picture of the button and the bead detailing. There was a conversation on Sewing World a few months ago about how to make the thread tails look better on the back of buttons. There were many suggestions given but the one I liked best came from Kathryn ~ where she suggested putting a small bead on the back of the button to hide the threads. This is becoming a signature piece for me now. On this jacket, I only put one single blue bead at the collar area because I never button my jacket up that far. And I have always worried about those "nasty" thread tails showing ~ this solves the problem and looks so kewl at the same time! That is what I like so much about the conversations at Sewing World (at the time) and now Artisans Square. It helps me to refine my sewing ~ adding those last little details that take my sewing to the next level!

Here is a picture of the jacket! I am especially proud of the buttons on the jacket because not only are they covered buttons but they also have an added gold rim to the button. I love that I made these custom buttons for this jacket. They look nothing like you would see in the store!

Here is how I wore the outfit today to work. Got a lot of compliments and it was great to wear this outfit on one of the hottest days of the year. It was well over 90 degrees and the jacket, top & city shorts were great in the office and outside, I just removed the jacket and had a cute outfit to walk to the bus stop.

This version is with a RTW tank top. I was surprised at how good it looks all together and I love the pants. The transitional wool has a bit of lycra stretch in it so I used a wider leg pants pattern when I cut the pants out because the fabric was very drapey. The pants feel great on and I think they look okay too!

The final version and I am going to pack this one to take with me on vacation ~ is the jacket, top and skirt. This will make a great outfit to wear to church service one day during the week. Cool and comfortable yet classic! Now that is my idea of a good outfit. If you want to see my Yahoo photo album with more pictures, just click on the highlighted link!

The blue silk crepe dress is all cut out and sitting on my cutting table waiting for me to come back from vacation and finish it up! I had enough time to complete it yesterday but started watching movies with my family and was having such a good time that I let it go! It will be here waiting for me when I come back from vacation and it is always nice to have a garment already cut out and the machines threaded just waiting to be used. It makes getting back into the sewing swing of things so easy!

Well that's it! My last sewing adventure for awhile! I have a list of fabric stores in the area that we are traveling to so I will let you know if anything follows me home! *smile*

Have a good week! Happy sewing and enjoy the journey! Peace!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Stash Diving

Or as a subtitle, "Mining my fabric collection for gold!" And I struck pay dirt! I found a lightweight nutmeg wool ticotine that I purchased at Jomars like ages ago! As you can see from the picture below ~ it works really well with the two main fabrics.

I think it will work really well with the blue silk crepe piece too!

So this is just an update. I will not need to venture into the garment district the week before leaving for vacation. I won't have to stand in the fabric store adding and subtracting and hoping that I am not taking away too much money from the vacation fund because I found a few other pieces that I just had to have and would add so much to the collection! *smile* Nope ~ I have found a suitable piece in my fabric collection.

And today, my fabric collection is like gold! I have found a piece that has been aging for years that will work perfectly with some recently purchased fabrics. Also while I was on my hands and knees pulling pieces from the bottom shelf of the closet, I found two other pieces that will work well with my "All the Leaves Are Brown" Fall SWAP! Yeap, a fabric collection is well worth the time and effort ~ well at least in my case!

So I am off to sew now! I will add a pair of pants from the wool and this will really make these pieces transition from summer to late summer and into early fall! Yeah, it's a good day in the fabric closet!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Burda Six ~ so far...

Just thought I would give an update on how I am doing with "The Burda Six!" This concept is based upon 6 or 7 garments made in complimentary fabrics that can work as a mini wardrobe. I started with Burda's concept and came up with my own plan to make a jacket, a dress, 2 tank tops, a skirt and a pair of pants.

I was using a beige rayon/linen blend for the jacket and pants to have a basic pantsuit that could be dressed up or down using various tops in my wardrobe besides the ones that were part of the Burda Six. My first obstacle was that I did not have as much fabric as I thought I had ~ the pants became city shorts. Then even though I thought I had correctly measured the shoulder seam, I had to take the sleeves out and put them back in. Luckily, I had only hand basted them in! This is my personal "slow down and enjoy the journey" effort. Any sleeves that have to be put into a jacket or top without a flat application, must be hand basted in. This allows me to check how the sleeve looks in the garment, how it hangs, where the jacket falls on my shoulder without a major effort of getting the sleeve out if there is something I don't like!

The tank top was made using the SW Mission Tank out of the beige/blue swirly print rayon/linen blend. This is a favorite TNT pattern of mine that I have lengthened, changed the neckline on and even constructed it in a knit fabric although the pattern is designed to be used with wovens.

The TNT skirt with some extra flare in the panels was also made from the beige/blue swirly print rayon/linen blend. Using TNT patterns made this fast and easy sewing. Also its summer sewing so there are no linings, no hand stitched hems ~ machine stitched only, so the sewing is pretty quick!

I now have three of the six pieces completed. The jacket needs the shoulder pads covered and sewn in, a hem and buttons and buttonholes. But I feel like I am in the home stretch for finishing it. I still have to make the dress from McCalls 3197. View A ~ the sleeveless one with the ruffled hem. And another tank top from the blue silk crepe using this tank top pattern ~ another TNT.

I think I need to add a chocolate brown linen skirt or pair of pants. The garments just seem like they need one more bright pop of color. However, I don't have a chocolate brown linen in my fabric collection and I am a little loathe to go out looking for some. Who knows what might follow me home from the garment district!!!! Just one more shot of the wearing possibilities!

See how the brown necklace gives it that added pop of color! Yes, I definitely need a couple yards of brown linen to play off the print, the light solid beige and the silky blue. It will add the "finishing touch" to my version of the Burda Six! Will let you know what I find? And if only the chocolate brown fabric makes it home with me! *smile*

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Finishing Up Summer Sewing

Even though I took most of yesterday to dream and pull fall fabrics, I still have a list of garments that I want to finish for this summer season. The list has been edited from my overly ambitious one that couldn't possibly be done before next January, to a slightly more manageable one that I can finish and still wear by the end of September.

The first set of garments on my list is "The Burda Six":

The Burda Six is a reference to the Burda World of Fashion magazines. Y'know how lately every monthly issue highlights a group of 6 or 7 pieces that are made to work together? Well I have some great rayon/linen blend pieces that I thought would make an interesting Burda Six. So my pieces are made from 4 yards of a tan rayon/linen from FFC; 5 yds of a tan & shades of blue swirly print in rayon/linen also from FFC and 4 yds of a light blue silk crepe from Jomars in Philadelphia.

Using the Burda Six as a model, I am making:
~ an unlined jacket and a pair of city shorts (Vogue 8264) out of the tan rayon/linen,
~ a tank top and short flare skirt from TNT patterns from the printed rayon/linen
~ and a dress & tank using McCalls 3173 out of the blue silk crepe.

"Six pieces to make up a mix and match wardrobe."

Here is a picture of the jacket so far.

I still have a lot of work to do to it. Especially since I added binding to all the exposed seams in the garment and made piping for the collar. This is definitely not qualifying as a fast and easy jacket. I have close ups below of the jacket and the details inside the jacket.

Close up of the piped collar and back seam!

Close up of the collar stand and back seam

And as always, I will keep you updated on the progress of "The Burda Six!"

Saturday, July 22, 2006

All The Leaves Are Brown

...and the sky is gray!" are the opening lines to "California Dreamin' " a song by the Mamas and the Papas! But it is also a great title for a Fall SWAP!

I have been thinking alot about fall sewing. I am sure that is because the fall RTW catalogues and magazines are starting to hit my mailbox and fall fashions are popping up everywhere! So to assauge my desire for all things fall, I started searching my fabric closet for shades of brown fabrics.

Ahhhh ~ true confession time! I have three full shelves of brown fabrics in all shades of brown and in an amazing array of fabrications. It was actually a little difficult to come up with several fabrics that worked together but after a little pulling and tugging (to get them out of the packed shelves), a little mixing and matching and a whole lotta "I can't believe I have this!" I came up with two sets of fabrics that I want to use to start my fall sewing. Yeap, two sets! I know, I know I have issues but I will pledge allegiance to the "no more buying fabric gods" at another date, okay!!!

The first set of fabrics consist of deeper shades of browns and a little tan for contrast. The interesting thing to me is that none of these fabrics were purchased at the same time and several of them came from opposite coasts of the USA.

The first batch of brown fabrics consist of:

  • a caramel brown polyester knit from Fabrix Fabrics in San Francisco, CA
  • a brown/black paisley moleskin from Walmarts from Cape Cod, MA - purchased while I was on vacation one summer.
  • shades of brown wool challis paisley that has been in the collection since I was 21!
  • chocolate brown wool pique from Textile Studio
  • a crumpled pattern brown stretch velour from Spandex House, NYC garment district
  • a deep brown crocheted knit from Jomars in Philadelphia, PA
  • a brown/tan/black silk/wool blend glen plaid from
  • and finally a smooth brown sweater knit from Emmaonesock

And of course I have a myriad of garment ideas floating through my mind to construct! No solid decisions yet. I just know that this fabric combination will work great for fall sewing.

The second combination is a smaller list and is not really a SWAP sewing experience, just some fabrics that go together and will make wonderful pieces.

They are:

  • a mahagony brown wool flannel that has been aging for years in my collection. This 6 yard piece was purchased from Felsen Fabrics in NYC. Felsen has been out of business for at least five years maybe more! But I do remember that this was one of my first major fabric purchases from 40th Street.
  • a cranberry waffle knit that is just part of the collection
  • a rust/brown/black floral printed corduroy from Fabric Mart
  • a rust wool/blend sweater knit from Casual Elegance

The Mahagony Brown Pieces and a shot of all the fabrics together! Boy did this leave a big hole on a shelf in my fabric closet! And I vow not to fill it until these pieces are actually garments! *smile*

So all I have to do now is get through the last of my summer sewing and I will be ready for fall sewing! I love my fabric closet ~ I really, really do! And all the little white tags on the fabric ~ why to tell me what it is, where I purchased it and how much yardage I have!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Fashion Shots

The hardest part of sewing for me is photographing the finished product! I want you to see what I saw when I was dreaming of the garment and then making it. Sometimes I am successful ~ sometimes I am not! Most times after I have finished constructing a garment, I just don't feel like putting on my game face and taking pictures of my creations. I bought Lulu (my dressform) so that I could show my garments like Kathryn does but that worked for only a few pictures. I still think I look best in my clothes.

So today ~ weeks after I finished these garments, I am finally ready for my photo shoot. Thanks to my trusty daughter who loves fashion as much as I do and is a great beginning sewer and fabric collector ~ I have fashion shots!

On the right,
Me with Attitude!
Wearing a handkerchief linen jacket and one of my spring sewing skirts! Made the linen jacket several years ago and it's been a staple in my wardrobe ever since.

On the left,

wearing part of the new "Prada Dreamsicle SWAP"!

Of course I am always searching for the skinny shot! Y'know the one that makes my bodacious body not look quite so bodicious! *LOL*

My Queen Latifah pose!

Chillin' Summer Style!

Yeap ~ This is me, everyday!

So I've shared a little of what I look like in the clothes that I made recently! Hope I didn't bore ya!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Bias Binding - How much I love thee!

During my last sewing fest, one of the things that I did was to make bias binding. Now, I know you can purchase already made bias binding but what is the fun in that! When you make it yourself, you can have any color or pattern, in any size you want.

So, of course, I took a picture of my finished binding to share! Now you must understand ~ I love the process of making the binding but I don't like cutting out the bias strips. What is a girl to do ~ buy already cut bias strips! See when you are on a mission, you can find anything! Newark Dressmaker Supply has a great supply of 1" and 2" cotton blend bias binding which you can purchase by the yard or in a 50 yard roll. My white roll is shown in the upper right hand corner. I also own this binding in black, red, ivory, blue and yellow. The binding has also been used to make piping!

But the best find of all came from my favorite fabric store - Fabric Mart. In one of their fabric swatch mailings several years ago, they offered rolls of bias binding and rolls of bias taffeta. It was some ridiculous price of 20 rolls for $20 because my best friend Lisa and I split the 20 rolls. I have kept mine stored in one of my notions drawers, occasionally using a piece. But when I didn't want to line the orange linen jacket (that still isn't complete!) instead choosing to Hong Kong finish the inside seams this binding treasure trove came to mind.

So is making bias binding hard ~ Nope! Just need the right tools, lotsa steam and a little time!

  1. Start with pre-made bias binding ~ less time consuming and lets you get to the fun stuff faster!
  2. Make sure that you have bias tape makers in the appropriate size. These can be purchased at any of the usual internet sites as well as Joann's (usually in the quilting department!) A 1" bias strip makes 1/2" wide binding...2" makes 1" bias binding. The bias tape makers come in 1/4", 1/2", 1" finished width sizes and at one point I even saw a 2" maker.
  3. To start making the binding ~ make a diagonal cut on the piece. Then use a straight pin to guide the binding into the opening of the bias tape maker.
  4. As it comes out with the sides folded in to make the binding, pull slowly on the little triangle hook on the top of the bias tape maker to keep advancing the binding through the maker and using your iron (with the steam set on high) carefully press the piece.
  5. Also I have found that if you use the entire length of your ironing board to make it and work slowly from one end to the other, you can press at least a yard at a time.
  6. Repeat until you have enough yardage. Make sure that you watch your fingers when making it ~ the iron gets pretty hot! And also make sure that you press the binding long enough to get a good set!

That's it! Bias binding made personally to add interest to any of your garments! And here is a peek at my bias binding stash!

This is just one of those really kewl techniques that I like to incorporate into my sewing. So do you have a favorite technique? Wanna share?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Planning aforethought!

After making all of those garments, I don't much feel like sewing! So I guess I will revert to the next best thing ~ talking about sewing! *smile* Lately much has been said about my productivity. But I think it is a lot easier to sew garments in the summer since you don't have to do as much to them! A summer tank is two pieces, sewing up the side seams, turning down the edges or binding them and hemming it and voila, you have a new tank top!

I also have quite a few TNT (tried and true) patterns which make it easier to change a new pattern or to produce something rather quickly since you have already mastered your fitting issues. And then I have an enormous fabric collection with more arriving every day it seems! I also have a pretty deep button and notions stash. All of these definitely factor into my ability to produce garments in a shall we say timely fashion!

But mostly it's planning...I never once went to the store to pick anything up to complete my as Kathryn from Artisans Guild put it "What I did on my summer vacation wardrobe!" It was all on hand. And it wasn't on hand by accident. The fabrics had been purchased with a specific goal/project in mind. I had a list of what I wanted to make and how I wanted the pieces to work together. So even though I wasn't as enthusiastic about having the days to sew, I didn't have to prepare either. I just had to pick up my list and my supplies and sew.

And isn't that really the point of this ~ just to sew! To enjoy it and create beautiful garments that fulfill some creative need in our lives? How many of us journey out to Joann's or Hancocks and purchase those 99 cent or $3.99 patterns? How many of us run to an internet site when a great fabric sale is discussed and type in our credit card number to get a few pieces of those beautiful fabrics? Or dial a phone number? I know I am not the only one stalking Fabric Mart and Emmaonesock because sometimes those "SOLD" signs are up before I get there! How many times have we been standing before the notions wall at Joann's and remembered a comment that we read on SewingWorld, PatternReview or my personal favorite sewing spot ~ Stitchers Guild/Artisan's Square and used our 40/50% off coupon to try that notion out?

This is just my opinion now ~ well hey, it's my blog right? But if you channeled just a little more energy into planning, you too could produce the results I am producing. Hey, look I have wonderful sewing women that I look up too and try to emulate ~ I did shout-outs to them back in March and April ~ so I am always striving to up my sewing game. I just hope that in some small way I encourage you to up yours too! And my advice to you, if you want to produce more is to plan.

Okay, now don't get your panties in a bunch and talk about how much this is like work....or how much it takes the creativity out of sewing or whatever! I am not advocating that planning should become a chore. I am just suggesting that if you add some "fun" into your planning that you to can just sew. That's it. That's all. Easy peasy plain and simple.

*Plan ~ for a rainy day when you have nothing else to do so you can sew.
*Plan a mental health day ~ escape from your daily responsibilities and just sew.
*Plan ~ when you are purchasing that wonderful new piece of fabric, trim, pattern

So that when you sit down to sew a wonderful new garment will magically appear! Okay, maybe I went a little far with that one but you get my drift!

Planning is not a dirty word! Say it with me people! Planning is fun! Planning will increase your productivity! Planning will make you more like Carolyn! Oops, back it up ~ think I went too far again! *smile* But you get my drift - plan before you sew and turn out a wonderful garment in a shorter period of time! And this ends my lesson for the day!!!!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

All week I have been trudging to my sewing area

In my last post, I explained that our family vacation was waylaid. So I have had nine days at home to fill. Once our vacation was cancelled, the teenagers quickly made plans with their friends and picked up some extra days at work, so that left me with nine days to fill.

I went to the movies (3x), I watched some of the Netflix DVDs that always seem to be around and I never watch and I read one of my novels. I slept late. I went shopping with my mom and sister and I visited a friend for an afternoon. But I never realized how much time is in nine days when you don't fill the majority of it with work or planned activities. So at some point every day, I trudged to my sewing area.

Trudged is an interesting verb to use isn't it. But I went because I should go not because I was overjoyed to go. And I went because it seemed like such a waste to have all of this time and not use it to sew. So I trudged and I made myself persist. Now, after you see the pictures you are going to think I am a nut! But, please remember this is my God given talent. This is one of the things I do best and I have been sewing for over 35 years so I have a little experience....

Okay, this is what came out of my sewing room this week.

I finished up the "One Hit Wonder" pieces by turning them into a short sleeve top and a matching skirt. The skirt has a ribbon detail on each one of the four gores that I used to break up the circle print. I did this because I was too lazy to lay the pattern pieces out so that the circles would match at all the seams. I frequently use embellishment to hide my laziness! *smile*
Only the tank dress ~ made from a black rayon/linen from FFC was actually started and completed this week. The other two pieces were just finished up this week.

This is my "Brown & Orange, Circles & Stripes SWAP"

I have been collecting these different fabrics from various internet sources for about two months. Represented here is 5 yards of a cotton/lycra jersey, 4 yards of an orange midweight linen, and 2 yards of an orange stretch woven print from Fabric Mart. There is 5 yards of a brown midweight linen from Fashions Fabric Club. Two yards of a lightweight stretch woven Anna Sui print from Emmaonesock and 4 yards of an eyelet stretch woven from Timmel Fabrics. All the pieces were definitely purchased with this SWAP in mind.

The eyelet pieces and the Anna Sui print skirt were previously made but all of the other pieces are new. There are a few RTW tank tops included because they were so inexpensive to buy and they help to fill out the wardrobe.

The list of garments are:
  1. TNT flare 4-gore skirt modified to an 8-gore skirt w/zipper & waistband added. Made from the orange linen from FM. This skirt was underlined with silk organza and lined because the fabric was very see through.
  2. Burda WOF skirt #125 from the July 2006 issue. This skirt was made from the orange cotton/lycra jersey purchased from FM. And even though the pattern instructions say you should use a stretch jersey ~ the skirt did not turn out how I thought it would. Don't know if I am actually going to wear it yet!
  3. Brown linen city shorts from Vogue 8264. Fabric purchased from FFC.
  4. Brown linen pants made from TNT pants pattern. Fabric purchased from FFC.
  5. Sewing Workshop Mission Tank made from more of the orange cotton/lycra jersey from FM. I modified the neckline so that it has a v-neck instead of the tighter u-neckline.
  6. Burda OOP cardigan made from the orange cotton/lycra jersey from FM. Pieces made to wear together.

Yet to be completed are:

~ The orange linen jacket that is being made from the Tamatsu dress pattern that I used to make the tea dyed linen dress. This is cut out and has quite a bit of work yet to be done on it.

~ The orange circles & stripe stretch woven fabric that I am using to make a tank dress out of from Butterick 6082 - OOP. This is cut out and almost complete.

~ A white/orange green floral stretch woven that I purchased from Timmel Fabrics to make a skirt. What skirt ~ I don't know! Just know that I want one more skirt to go with this wardrobe.

And finally ~ one more picture of me actually wearing some of the garments!

I am going to write about the different garments and sewing processes during the upcoming week. But in the meantime, if you want to see pictures of each garment, they are in my Yahoo photo album:

In the folder, "Brown & Orange Circles & Stripes SWAP"

More later.....

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I have been very quiet

I have been very quiet and not because anything is wrong....I just haven't felt like talking! Can you believe that?! Nothing to say about sewing ~ whoa, I just felt the earth shift a little from its axes! Hold on people, something big is about to happen! *LOL*

No, seriously, I took this week off from work to go to Atlantic City for a few days of vacation with my family. Due to some family situations, we had to cancel the trip. Good thing though, since the Governor of NJ closed the casinos yesterday and people are leaving AC in droves. Guess that was a vacation that just wasn't meant to be!

So I am home with days to fill. Yes, I have been sewing, but I guess just not enthusiastically enough to share. I don't have my usual focused precision going on. Thank goodness I have a sewing list or I would be totally lost! I am working on a few things and I will share pictures and details shortly.

I hate to say this, but I am actually glad that Monday is coming and I can go back to work! "OHMYGOSH!"

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Statistics ~ "I Have A Few Of My Own"

Several times I have written about the statistics that appear at the end of people's signatures on sewing boards and in their blogs, and I am writing about it, yet again! *smile* But this time I have a statistic of my own to share.

First a little background....I noticed these stats at the beginning of the year and started to ponder if I truly wanted to record every piece of fabric, trim, pattern, etc. that made its way into my home. NOT! That might actually curb the desire to fuel the flames of my passion. So that wasn't happening!!! In the last few years, I started keeping a sewing journal, a written and photographic "scrapbook" of all the garments I made. I began this so that I wouldn't hold onto clothing that was no longer in style, or that I could no longer wear, just because I made them. The Sewing Journal gave me a visual and written record of these garments that I could comfortably keep forever.

Now that I own a digital camera, an internet photo site and this blog, I have replaced the Sewing Journal with a smaller spiral notebook that just records all of the items I have made. So the statistic that I want to share is.......

That from January 1, 2006 until June 30th I have made (completed and able to be worn) 31 garments.

These include my Winter 2006 SWAP pieces, The Chanel Suit for the American Doll Girl, The J-Lo Bling Prom Dress and the heartbroken Sweet 16 pieces! I still have four uncompleted pieces that I did not add to the list ~ the black/brown circle linen pieces and the black rayon/lycra jersey cardigan with the toile accents and matching SW Mission tank top.

So in my reasonable mind, I think I should be on track to have constructed about 70 items by the end of the year! When I started the list, I actually thought that I would end the year making 100 pieces. I don't know if that will actually happen especially since I don't want to push to make that many pieces and end up with schlocky stuff that I wouldn't wear! But anyway, that is my mid-year statistic.

Just wanted to share that all the statistic keeping has managed to affect me too! So my questions for today are: Did you set any sewing goals for yourself this year? Now that we are midway through the year, how are you doing with your goals? And if you didn't set any goals, why not? Is it because, some of you think of sewing as a hobby that you don't want to complicate with goals? Or is it because you haven't thought about challenging yourself by setting goals?

I'm interested! So talk back to me! And take some time to enjoy the sewing journey during this long holiday weekend!


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