Wednesday, February 28, 2007

February's Totals

February wasn't as good to me as January was sewing wise. I only finished three pieces - two pairs of lined pants and a jacket...way below the 10 pieces needed to meet my annual goal. Hopefully I will make it up when summer comes and I start blowing through those pieces. But who knows since the garments that I will add to my wardrobe this year will be more detailed and tailored...ah the dilemmia!

However, I do have my Tamoutsu dress hanging waiting to be finished and a jacket semi-completed that I am dithering on. I am definitely going to get the rest of my SWAP pieces completed this month so I have a plan and know where I am going...well hopefully! *smile*

Fabric *sigh*...well I started the month strong. I was even good in the middle of the month only acquiring 15 yards of fabric...pieces bought to make more corporate chic garments. But then the end of the month snuck up on me....and I stopped by Fikret Fabrics (one of the few fabric stores left on 40th Street) after seeing the Ralph Rucci Exhibit and I had to offer a little 4.5 more yards followed me home. Now I was up to 19.5 yards...still not bad...I could work that out.

Then "the manilla envelope" arrived in the mail...and all sense of rhyme and reason flew out the window! Now before you start moaning let me explain why! First you have to be a member of Fabric Mart's Sample Club which you earn by paying a fee. Half of the fee is returned to you in a $25 off coupon that you can use anytime during the year...I have never held onto the coupon longer than three months...but I digress. Then FM offered 20% off all the sample cut fabrics, the website and all of the notions...I might not have fallen and so hard at that, but they also let me use my coupon alongwith the 20% off!!! The only good thing about falling is that the fabric won't arrive until March so it will go against my March totals.

Finally fabric out this month - 7.5 yards vs. 19.5 yards in. My YTD totals are 9 garments made, 16.5 yds of fabric used and 21.5 yards of fabric purchased....those other yards aren't here yet so they just don't count now! *LOL* I have a ways to go to meet my goal of 100 garments constructed this year but it is too early in the year to call uncle yet!

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Ralph Rucci at FIT

(credit: - Chado Ralph Rucci collection - Spring '07)

Ann (Gorgeous Things) and two of the other Sewing Divas - Gigi & Phyllis were in NYC last month and went to see the Ralph Rucci exhibit at FIT. Their adventure reminded me that I had planned on seeing this exhibit but hadn't yet made the trip. So yesterday, my daughter and I went into the city to see the exhibit. And it was absolutely fantastically, amazing!

Of course the clothing was awesome....I mean c'mon its Ralph Rucci. However, the idea that stayed with me even after leaving the museum, was how he embraced his vision and remained true to it. One of the wall plaques in the exhibit stated that Rucci knew his evening gowns were so couture that they wouldn't be worn on the red carpet and that he did more busness in daywear and suits. Even though he understood this, he continued to design evening wear that reflected his vision. Those words really struck me.

Then there were the clothes...
The exhibit opens with a white doublefaced wool jacket that is embroidered with words. The jacket is paired with a pair of chocolate brown leather pants that has words printed onto the leather. I stood at this outfit for a while looking at the attention to detail. The words on the jacket were only on the jacket fronts - not the sides and only a single layer of words ran down the center of each sleeve. It was astounding how the two pieces were placed together, the type of fabric used and the embellishment technique. It made me want to run right home and start sewing.

The next outfit that stayed with me was a jacket and skirt made from double faced wool (which he uses alot) that had pieced inserts on the jacket front and sleeves and also inserted into the matching skirt. The entire outfit looked to me like felted wool jersey and of course, my mind rocketed back to the bag of felted wool jersey scraps I have been holding on to.

I mention those two outfits specifically because they struck an inspirational chord within me...something I could come home and replicate in my own wardrobe. That is not to say that there weren't some other amazing outfits in this exhibit. He uses alot of wonderfully rich and luxurious fabrics. He uses interesting and different embellishment techniques. His attention to detail is amazing and it is hard to describe his construction details without tripping over superlatives.

As we were leaving the exhibit, there was a glass case that held one of Rucci's small sketch books opened to a page showing a sketch he had made, a fabric swatch and some notes. My daughter noticed it first and motioned me over. We both just stared because it looked exactly like the notebook that was in my bag! And if I had opened it, there would have been a page with a sketch, a fabric swatch and some notes...that was so thrilling to me!

(credit: - Chado Ralph Rucci - Spring 2005 collection)

So what did I take away from the exhibit:

1. Hold tight to your own vision and incorporate it into the clothing you make.

2. Don't be afraid to experiment with color, texture and design.

3. Details, details, details ~ the care he took with the details many times made the garment!

4. Don't go anywhere without my sketchbook!

If you can get to New York City before April 14th when the exhibit ends, please plan to spend some time at The Museum @ FIT visiting the Ralph Rucci Exhibit ~ "the Art of Weightlessness." It's free so there is no reason not to go!

(credit: - Chado Ralph Rucci Fall 2005 RTW Collection)

And if you won't make it to NYC before then, you can see his Fall '07 collection here and his Spring '07 collection here. All outfits pictured in this post are shown in the exhibit.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Yeah, I Said It! - Sewing News has reached the local level

Everyone knows that I LOVE sewing! And recently there have been several articles in the news magazines (Time) and segments on the national morning news shows on the resurgence of sewing. Well that news has now filtered down to the local level because about three weeks ago I was interviewed for a sewing article in my local area newspaper. It was really interesting because the author of the article found me through my blog! Too kewl, huh!

Because I like to share...the article is listed below:

The Times of Trenton Archive
COPYRIGHT (c) The Times of Trenton 2007

Millions of sewing enthusiasts are finding fun, friends and fulfillment as they stitch away

The way Elizabeth Anderson sees it, "If everyone in the world sewed, it would be a much better place."

While it's unlikely that everyone will pick up needle and thread, each day more and more people are joining the estimated 35 million stitchers in the United States.

Classes at area sewing centers such as the ones Anderson and her husband own are bustling, while dedicated seamstresses are blogging about their latest projects. Teens look forward to their sessions on streamlined machines that bear as much resemblance to those cranky old black Singers as PT Cruisers do to Model T's.

Experts chalk up the surge in sewing to various reasons: the influence of home-makeover programs and shows such as "Project Runway"; an urge for self-expression; a surefire way to stretch a wardrobe.

"It's part of the do-it-yourself craze," says Karen Koza of the Home Sewing Association, a national nonprofit group that bills itself as "the authority on all things sewing."

Sewers, "young and old, want to look like their contemporaries, but also stand out," Koza says.

That's an aim Pat O'Brien, a sewing instructor with Stony Brook Sewing and Vacuum Super Stores owned by Elizabeth and Howard Anderson, knows all about.

"Kids now want to stand out, they want to personalize their stuff," she says on a break between classes at the bustling store in the Hamilton Marketplace. "When I was a kid, all we wanted to do was blend in, make sure we were all wearing the same thing."

It was a fact demonstrated yet again at the beginning of the school year when her two teenage daughters got rave reviews for the fabric-hemmed skirts they'd fashioned from old jeans.

"Sewing skipped a generation," says O'Brien. "My generation."

As a teenager in the '70s, O'Brien was taught to sew by her mother. But she was reluctant to wear any of the clothes she made for fear of being seen as poor or, worse yet, different.

" 'What, you can't afford to buy your clothes?'" was a typical reaction to her homemade ensembles, O'Brien recalls.

The women's movement then relegated sewing to a quaint domestic science soon expelled from schools' curricula.

"As the baby boomers became mothers and grandmothers, retiring from the work force, they've turned to sewing as a creative outlet," continues O'Brien. "And their daughters have become interested. But there's no one to teach them." That's where O'Brien and thousands of other sewing instructors across the country come in.

At the Stony Brook centers, classes run the gamut from quilting to embroidery to home decorating.

A recent class was devoted to making panels for quilts that will be raffled to raise money for breast cancer research. The buzz of activity suggested a hive; questions ("Do we stitch the binding on or quilt first?"), comments ("There's a dog hair in my quilt!") and encouragement ("Just like that, that's it!") ricocheted around the quilt-paneled room.

Some of those quilts are works of art: Two, placed side by side, materialized from different interpretations of the same pattern. One shows gardens of demure and diminutive roses while the other is an explosion of bright insistent flowers. Some fan out their colors in peacock fashion; another uses the copper hue of new pennies and the brown of old ones.

Lisa Dekovitch, one of O'Brien's students, describes the joy of translating colors and fabrics she loves "into something that everyone can enjoy as much as I do.

"Quilts know no age limits, everyone from infants to the elderly loves to be comforted by them. I love mixing different fabrics and textures together and making it a `Lisa quilt.'

"A part of me is thrilled that I possibly could make something that could still be loved many years from now," says Dekovitch of Bordentown.

But quilting is just one aspect of the needlework being done by men, women and children.

Teens gravitate toward the "Make It You" line, says Elizabeth Anderson. That includes patterns for bags, belts and pillows in candy-color fabrics and sparkling accessories.

"Sewing now is for entertainment," she says. "Maybe you won't be able to compete with the outfits at the store, but it's a creative way of expressing yourself . . . it's doing something creative for your soul."

Once a technique is learned, it can be applied to other projects.

"You can translate the techniques of quilting onto garments, home decorating . . . it's not restricted to one area. There's a blurring of the lines," says Anderson.

Classes are a give and take, chimes in O'Brien. "Students ask for projects requiring specific skills. Some are afraid at first, but I tell them, `If you can turn on the machine and sew a straight line, you can learn.'"

All agree that sewing machine innovations have hastened the revived interest.

At the Stony Brook center in Hamilton, pale machines proceed along a shelf like a sleek train. They're computerized, portable and second nature to a generation that thrives on technology.

Older sewers may be a bit intimidated at first by the variety of options, such as pushing a button to accomplish a buttonhole, but once they see the results, they're sold.

"The technology has helped tremendously," says Koza of the Home Sewing Association. "The new machines are fun to use."

Anderson talks of struggling with treadle machines, while O'Brien recalls tensions - never being able to get the right setting on the machine and the resulting tensions with her mother as teacher.

"All that headache stuff is gone now," says Howard Anderson of the sleek machines, which can cost anywhere from $79 to $7,000.

Barry Yellen, manager of the American Sewing Center in Princeton, says he has noticed a lot of first-time sewers visiting his shop in the last three years. "More people are taking lessons, and the classes with younger people are growing," he says.

Sewing classes also are offered at area schools, whether as part of the curriculum or as an afterschool activity.

In the Ewing Township School District, for example, students can get a taste of sewing in middle school then take more in-depth courses at the high school, according to Brian Bittings, a district supervisor.

"The kids love it," says Bittings of the high school courses on designing contemporary clothing and apparel design and construction.

Both elective classes are well attended, says Bittings, and a few of the students are boys.

Then there is Sew Trendy, created as a partnership between the Home Sewing Association and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, Inc. It's intended to involve select high schools, including many in New Jersey, and their communities in a yearlong sewing and design project, says Koza.

Sewing as they reap
For Carolyn Norman of Somerset, sewing has been a passion for most of her 47 years. Home-ec classes were complemented with instruction at home from her grandmother. By the time she was 11, Norman had learned to sew. "I sew everything!" she says, including her wedding dress, maternity clothes, prom dresses for her daughters, school clothes. "Everything!"

Only one of her three daughters sews, and very few of her friends are interested in sewing. Working as an executive assistant in New York, she leaves for work at 8 a.m. and does not get home until 7 or 8 in the evening.

With no time for a sewing group, Norman treasures her virtual connections.

She keeps a sewing blog illustrated with photos of finished projects and regularly converses with other sewers online.

Like crowded pin cushions, the Web sites are bristling with advice, patterns, questions and answers. There is solidarity in sewing.

"This is really a solitary thing, but you can log onto that board and talk to anyone, around the world, anytime. They have the same sensibility, and it really fosters a community," says Norman.

That sense of community is something the Andersons and O'Brien have noticed about those who sign up for classes at their stores.

"Sewing groups are like the old-fashioned quilting bees, it's a way to connect people of different backgrounds. People who never would have met otherwise are going out to lunch together after class," says O'Brien. "Some are coming to class even if they are not going to sew." Howard Anderson puts it this way: "There's no backyard fence anymore. It's the backyard fence."

Karen Sowney, another student of O'Brien's, talks about gaining expertise with every class until she was able to make a very special gift. "The first quilt that I made was a `memory' quilt for my 84-year-old mother with pictures of our family, which she absolutely treasures," says Sowney of Burlington Township.

The positive energy of sewing may be an antidote for the doldrums.

"I was very depressed last winter when my friend suggested that we take a quilting class together." says Mary Fowlie of Mount Laurel. "That may be one of the best decisions that I ever made. Not only did I learn how to quilt, but it's hard to stay depressed when you're making something lovely. Quilting has helped me so much that I convinced my daughter to try it and she loves it as well. And I've made some very nice new friends."

Koza of the HSA recognizes both the experience of Norman and the camaraderie of O'Brien's students.

"One of the best things about sewing is that it can be as social as you want, and as solitary as you want," she says.

And whether it's a vest passed for admiration from person to person in a sewing circle or a picture of an stunning outfit posted on MySpace, the creativity comes across loud and clear.

Hope you enjoyed the article - Happy Sewing!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Chapter Two Suit Completed

I have finished the Chapter Two suit which means two more SWAP pieces finished too! I usually don't hop around in my sewing projects. Normally I conceive a project and work on it until its completed and I can wear it out the door. But this time, even though I am pretty far along into the boiled wool/glen plaid pantsuit (Chapter One Suit) and actually did some more work on it last night, I really had an urge to move onto Chapter Two.

And to let you know, this is very similar to how I read a novel....just when the story starts to get really intense, I skip to the back of the book and read the ending. Yeah, I know its kinda sad but knowing how the story ends allows me to calm down and enjoy the minute details of the story otherwise I skip right over them in my hurry to find out what happens. I had reached some challenges in the Chapter One suit and since all the pieces of Chapter Two were sitting there waiting and I had started to dream about them....I moved onto Chapter Two.

The Chapter Two pantsuit is a stand alone outfit and also meets two of my requirements for my Dress SWAP. I used what is fast becoming a very wonderful TNT pattern:
Vogue 7944 which it saddens me to say is now "out of print" but still available if you move quickly on Vogue's Pattern Site.

The pattern description listed on the back of the pattern is: MISSES’/MISSES’ PETITE JACKETS AND PANTS: Unlined long sleeve jacket has topstitched collar and front opening edges. View B has slits at sides. Pants have waist facing and back zipper closure.

I used five yards of black wool crepe from
Fabric Mart to construct these two pieces. 2.5 yards of the fabric was felted slightly by washing and drying it two times. This piece was used for the jacket. The fabric had a real sweatery feel after going through the felting process so I opted not to line it and instead finished all the seams with black Seams Great. My thought was that by using this tailored jacket pattern in a softer fabric that it would give the resulting pantsuit a softer look...a slight twist on the typical corporate black suit.

The Seams Great idea was wonderful in theory but a little more interesting in real life application. The felted wool crepe needed a lot of steam to make the seams lay flat. All of that steam, of course, melted the Seams Great. So I needed to use two silk organza press cloths to get the steam that I needed without damaging the Seams Great that was used as a seam finishing. That challenge aside, the pattern advises you to topstitch the collar and front jacket openings. Since I was opting for a sweater type look, I nixed the topstitching which meant I used my clapper alot to achieve a flat collar and front opening things topstitching definitely assist in achieving.

Because I did not manipulate the fabric used for the pants - the wool crepe is sleek and smooth. I made my regular TNT pants adding a lining and the resulting pantsuit has an interesting look. The jacket fabric is slightly darker and blacker because of the felting process and the pants are a shade lighter but it is a kewl and different look - well at least to me!

I am heading back into my sewing room to work on my black wool crepe version of the Tamotsu dress which I am lining in a lightweight gray sueded silk. I am also changing the sleeves from short sleeves to full length sleeves.
Here is a picture of my SWAP so far:

And a picture of the Chapter One suit in progress....

I hope to have it completed soon. BTW, the reason I am not posting pictures of me wearing my SWAP garments is because I am leaving that for the final presentation! Hope you had a productive sewing weekend also!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

President's Day Weekend

A three day weekend....Yes!!!!! It is Saturday afternoon and the errands have been done, bills paid and other life intruding on my creative process tasks accomplished so I am off to sew! Three days (well 2.5 now) at home to finish working on the Chapter One suit and the Chapter Two suit (yeah, that will be another post!) but suffice it to say that I have two suits in varied states of construction that I should be able to finish up this weekend.

I also want to make a black wool crepe version of my Tamosotu dress which will finish off one more required element of my dress SWAP. I can tell I am going to be sewing like a fiend at the end of the SWAP competition this year because I have been working very slowly on completing these pieces.

The two pieces of fabric that I purchased from Fabric Mart for more suits ~ five yards of a brown/wine wool crepe (which is no longer on the site) and five yards of a herringbone 100% worsted wool crepe arrived yesterday. These are great cuts of fabric - medium weight with a little heft to colors that no one else is queuing up in the office. I am starting to stand out because I am in corporate gear just not navy, black or grey. Mission accomplished!
So I am off to sew! Hope you enjoy your President's Day weekend also and if you get a chance hit up the local brick's 'n mortar fabric stores and enjoy the sales!!!!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

What Is Your Trademark?

Clothing designers have them...certain details that are always present in their collections. Details like how they cut the fabric or a type of fabric that appears in many of their collections, specific colors they use, or the way they fit a garment. Sewers have them too...fabric types that you gravitate towards, certain pieces that you make more often than others, or seaming details that you use repeatedly.

My sewing trademark would be sleeve detailing. I pay particular attention to my sleeves so that I can hide a figure challenge ~ notice that I did not call it a flaw! I do certain things to sleeves to make them work for me...short sleeves are cut a certain length to camouflage but still give a flair to the garment or its cut on the bias to add a little more space to the bicep area without changing the overall shape of the sleeve. Jacket and cardigan sleeves get particular attention because you want to have a well-fitted garment and the sleeve treatment if done improperly can definitely shout, "made with loving hands at home." Not only do I take extra time to measure, fit and adjust sleeve width but I usually add some sort of a seaming detail to give the finished sleeve a slimmer effect.

But this is my can see these features in almost every sleeve I make on almost every garment I construct. So what would be your sewing trademark? What detail do you constantly add to most of your garments? What sets them apart as a "fill in your name" original? Or have you ever given it much thought? Examine your garments and see what sewing, cutting or fitting detail they all share and realize that you have a trademark too!

Monday, February 12, 2007

A Revelation

It kinda hit me this weekend, I mean really hit me...that 90% of my wardrobe is made by my own two hands.

As you know I have been struggling with forming a suitable corporate wardrobe after years of working in a "business casual" atmosphere. But on the East Coast this last week the temperatures dropped into the single digits and I was forced to reach into the back corners of my closet to find really warm clothing. And back there, I discovered a treasure trove of tailored jackets.

See my closet is organized by pieces ~ all jackets, skirts, pants, blouses etc. are hung together. Its been this way for years because it "allowed" me the freedom to mix and match pieces which stretched my wardrobe. When I found those jackets (made in a few tailoring classes with the amazing Colleen Jones!) I realized how "deep" my closet actually is and how many pieces I have made.

Now this might not seem like a big deal but lately I've felt as if I wasn't being as productive sewing-wise as I would like to be. Some of this is due to life changes, i.e., the new job and some of this is due to other changes but mostly I have just felt pressured to complete "suitable" outfits quickly. And we all know how hard it is to produce an awesome, high-quality garment under pressure. However, I have had an epiphany...I have reached a turning point. After putting together some new outfits using the long forgotten pieces in the back of my closet, I am realizing the depth of my wardrobe as well as how successful I have been in making a well-rounded and cohesive wardrobe.

I can step back now, bask in my accomplishments and breathe. But more importantly I can enjoy the process. I know I talk about enjoying the journey alot but if you aren't enjoying the process, how long will you continue to sew? It is way tooo easy to clothe yourself by buying ready to wear. It's everywhere and in every price range...

My revelation is this...that over the years I have made many wonderful pieces of clothing and that they do reside in my closet. Also these pieces were done in periods of creative freedom that held no stress or pressure to create and that I enjoyed the process ~ that is why the jackets have so many pretty details. So that is what I am going to strive for in 2007 ~ the ability to create garments that stretch my sewing skills and give me a greater creative outlet and more satisfaction.

What are you looking for creatively in 2007?

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Its Time to Restock

I don't know about anyone else but late January/early February always finds me restocking my sewing notions. When I sit down to sew, I like to have everything on hand. I hate to run out of thread or hooks 'n eyes, etc. in the middle of sewing a garment....anything that stops the project just annoys the heck out of me. So once a year, I restock.

I keep lists of notions that have been used during the year and place large orders to restock them. What do I buy in bulk and keep on hand? Elastics in all sizes, thread - both for my sewing machine and serger, interfacing, silk organza, needles - both for the sewing machine and hand needles, zippers, and shoulder pads to name a few things.

I restock from places like Atlanta Thread and Supply, Home Sew, Newark Dressmaker's Supply, Nancy's Notions, Thai Silks, and Joann's. Carefully going through my notion supply, I make lists of everything that is low and then I just start ordering. Most of my restocking is done through mail order but I do purchase some goods from Steinlauf and Stoller in NYC.

What do I replace? Thread from Atlanta Thread & Supply - they sell Gutterman Thread for $2.95 for 1100 yards; Maxi-Lock serger thread is $1.99 ~ though I buy my basic colors in the 5,000 yard cones...don't need to reorder as often. I buy elastics from Home Sew and Newark Dressmaker's Supply in 25 or 50 yard rolls. Home Sew also has a great selection of shoes/hats/purses for 18" dolls. Silk Organza is purchased from Thai Silks in three colors in 20 yard lengths. From Nancy's Notions ~ things like snaps, interesting notions, etc. mostly whatever interests me from her catalogue. Steinlauf and Stoller offer gridded pattern paper, zippers in all sizes and rayon hem tape in every color under the sun!

I do this religiously at the beginning of the year because it allows me to sew without worry the rest of the year. So do you restock? Or do you purchase notions as needed? Do you purchase online? Or do you run out to Joann's or Hancock's? How do you keep your notions stashed?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Randomness From Fall 2007 Fashion Week

Below are a few pictures of garments that caught my eye while trolling through the websites featuring pics of Fashion Week Fall 2007....

I like this from Jason Wu's Collection. Look at the glen plaid fabric that he used and how he matched the plaid! I could definitely rock this next fall ~ well an "interpreted" version of it!

And this one from Diane Von Furstenberg made me think - yeap should buy a few yards of that wool doubleknit from Fashion Fabrics Club that is on sale this week for $16.95. Wool doubleknit is going to be soooooo hot next fall!

I am not a huge Betsy Johnson fan but I could see this one toned down (smaller collar & bow - shorter length jacket) with a cute pencil skirt as a suit for fall...

Loved, loved, loved how the pinstripes were manipulated in this very classic suit from Bill Blass! I really liked so many pieces in the Bill Blass Collection ~ see it here.

I am probably one of the few people who were disappointed in the Carolina Herrara collection...nothing just really floated my boat. But then again I am eyeing the collections differently this year...with more of a corporate slant so the Carolina Herrara collection had a nice ladies that lunch flavor but it just didn't do much for me!

And what is with Michael Kors...all the models had long straight hair aka the '70s and I definitely saw shades of Laura Bennett's Project Runway creations in there!

And this from Lela Rose is my Oscar dress pick ~ well if I were going!

I am off to sew...real clothes for a real body! Hope you are enjoying fashion week...check it out at and Mercedes Benz Fall 2007 Fashion Week's Official Spot!

Monday, February 05, 2007

A Tale of Five Suits - Chapter One

In my continuing quest to revamp my wardrobe...ain't this getting to be a tired old song...I am making suits. Now this would be a much easier task if I just took one pattern and picked out five pieces of fabric and made the same suit, over and over and over again. But no, I can't be that common...I have to have different jackets, details and stylings so that each suit is an occasion unto itself!

I was originally going to title this post..."I dreamt a dream of you!" Because I literally fell asleep on the bus one morning and woke up with this outfit all worked out in my mind. It really came into being when I got home from work and found that the fabrics in my collection actually matched and all the trims were on hand. Well, not quite...but isn't that always the case. In the dream, I saw a shawl collared jacket made from a Brooks Brothers Boiled Wool in chocolate brown that I just happened to get a piece of from Fabric Mart last year. The pants were made from a brown/black/tan worsted wool glen plaid that I picked up in Paron's 50% off store when it was a separate entity on 40th Street. Wow! I need to take a minute here...I miss that store sooooo much! And underneath the jacket was a SW Mission Tank in a dark chocolate sueded silk - again from La Fabric Mart!

I also saw the shawl collar trimmed in a black foldover braid with these black well-shaped buttons with a brown bead inside. I am dreaming with some detail here, folks! After searching through my extensive pattern stash I find a shawl collared jacket that will fit on the 2.5 yards of 45" wide boiled wool OOP Butterick 4265 published in 1995 and the pattern description says:

Loose-fitting, unlined, above-hip jacket has collar, slightly extended shoulders, shoulder pads, flaps and long sleeves.

After an afternoon of pattern alterations that included narrowing the shoulders, lengthening the body of the jacket by two inches, changing the sleeves, and adding a lining to the jacket, OOP Butterick 4265 is just the "inspiration" for my shawl collared jacket! The jacket is not quite ready for prime time yet...the lining still needs to be inserted and a host of finishing details added but I am happy with it so far.

I want to close with a picture of my sleeve alterations. It is rare that I pull a pattern out of the envelope and there is enough space in the biceps for my bodacious arms. The easiest method that I have learned to add space to the biceps without changing the sleeve cap or the diameter of the hem is from Cynthia Guffy and her book, "Cynthia's Precision Measuring & Pattern Alterations for Bodice, Skirt, Jacket."

Her method has you draw a line across the bicep from side seam to side seam, and then draw another from the bicep to the bottom of the seam line on the sleeve cap. Next you slash through the sleeve seam allowance below the underarm seam and up to but not through the cap seam allowance. After that swing out half the desired amount on each side. Finally re-align the side seams to the bottom of the sleeve. That's it and it works everytime! I get perfect fitting sleeves without altering the sleeve cap or making the seam hem wider. Hopefully you can see from the picture how you slash and add to the side seams.

Next time I will have more on the jacket and pants! I am hoping to get four workable pieces out of this grouping so that I can do a little mixing and matching but still look "Corporate Chic!"


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