Sunday, September 30, 2007

CC Inspiration Jacket ~ Update

I cut the jacket out from the boucle fabric using my TNT pattern Vogue 2285 which is out of print. This jacket is going to take a little work because, I need to figure out exactly where I want the ribbon trim to start and finish. I can't find a picture of the back of the jacket at Coldwater Creek so I am going to have to wing it.

Also after some thought I realized that I would need to fuse some interfacing to the fabric and to add a double layer of interfacing to the areas where I will make the buttonholes for the ribbon to pass through. I want to make sure that the area is stabilized so that the buttonholes don't gap with wear.

The other change I made to the jacket was the sleeves...since the inspiration photo has three quarter sleeves with bows that will not make it onto my version! I used the sleeve from Vogue 8209 as a guide for making the slit sleeve and added a facing so that I can fold it back. I am also adding a lining to the jacket. I don't want facings from the fabric because I think it will be too bulky with the ribbon trim. So add that to the fold back facings from the sleeves and I have my work cut out for me!

I have no pictures yet but wanted to give a progress report since this is not rolling out of the sewing nook this weekend. However, I have started it and will show pics as soon as I get it completed. I love fall clothes but they take so much more time and effort to get them ready for prime time viewing and wearing out into the public!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Timmel SWAP Contest Rules Are UP!

Just a quick note...the rules for the Timmel 2008 SWAP Contest are up! You can read them here! Most interesting thing to me is this year's twist:

2008 Twist
Three garments must be made from one "wardrobe" pattern. You must make three uniquely different garments from that pattern; making one type of garment three times will not qualify. These patterns are available from all the major pattern companies and they usually include a jacket, dress and/or skirt, pants, blouse or top. For our purposes, any pattern with at least three different garments that work together will be counted as a "wardrobe" pattern. The patterns labelled "wardrobe patterns" often have 4 or 5 garments in them; but as long as the pattern has three different garments, it will qualify. The purpose of this year's rule is to encourage making the best use of a pattern; in other words, work it for what it is worth. The other 8 garments can come from any other pattern or patterns or be self-drafted.

And dresses are allowed:

This year is back to one type of SWAP. This consists of 11 garments, 4 bottoms (skirts and/or pants), 6 tops (2 should be more like blouses than just tees), and 1 jacket that will work with all the tops and bottoms. This gives you a total of 48 possible combinations. However, you can substitute a dress or dresses for two of the tops if you wish. Therefore, your SWAP can be 1 jacket, 4 bottoms, 4 tops, 2 dresses or it can be 1 jacket, 4 bottoms, 5 tops and 1 dress. The jacket must work with all combinations. In the case of a jumper, this would count as a "bottom" item, in that it must work with all the tops and it must also be able to be worn with the jacket. A vest is counted as a jacket since it is usually worn over a top. If it can be worn solo, count it as a top.

I'm all aflutter! I thought I wasn't going to participate in SWAP this year but now I don't know...If you have never participated in a SWAP, you should think about it. Julie's SWAP contest gives you plenty of time to plan and with a $25 qualifying purchase, you too can make an amazing wardrobe. Think about it because it is so much fun!

Back to sewing!

I've Got An Idea!

This is what I see everytime I sit down to sew or cut something out....

It's my "Inspiration Corkboard" and as you can see it is quite full! But I am always managing to stick just one more thing (picture, fabric swatch, note, etc.) onto it. It may look disorganized and chaotic but to me it's magic! It holds pictures of items that are most pressing or really making my mind buzz with inspiration.

So today while I was folding laundry and wondering what to sew, my eyes fell on this picture from one of the Coldwater Creek catalogues which had been cut out and stuck to the corkboard:

And I realized that I had the perfect piece of tweed fabric (4 yds-60" wide from Ebad Fabrics in NYC) in the fabric closet to make the jacket:

Then I really started to get excited because this jacket would compliment the Simplicity 3631 dress I just made. The dress really needed a jacket to make it work in my job's corporate environment.

A little digging in the notion drawer and I do have the perfect ribbon for the trim!!! And that is how my Inspiration Corkboard can spawn an entirely new outfit! Now I know what I am working on this weekend so it's time to get off the computer and get it made!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Weekend Sewers Guide Series - FSB #9

The Weekend Sewers Guide was published by Lark Books and authored by Kate Matthews. It consisted of three books:

~ Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Dresses

~ Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Blouses

~ Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Pants & Skirts

I had never seen a sewing/inspiration book devoted to sewing dresses ~ and y'all know how much I love dresses ~ so I just had to have this book! Now the pictures in the book are a little outdated. It was published in 1988, but the information is still on point and very helpful! However, this is more of an "inspirational" sewing book than and "instructional" sewing book. The different types and silhouettes of dresses are discussed in the book.

When I purchased this book, what really appealed to me was that each chapter ended with instructions on how to make a specific dress along with a fabric and supply list called "A Plan for the Week." The plan set out a weekly schedule for how to get the dress constructed in a weekend. I love how it broke the tasks down into manageable pieces, so that you could do one task each night and then do the main sewing over the weekend. At the end of the weekend you would have a new dress to wear.

At the time that was the most appealing factor to me...learning how to manage my time so that I could end up with a new garment every week! Not that much has changed but I have a different routine now! *smile* But this series of books definitely opened my eyes to another way to PLAN and sew.

As I mentioned earlier this series of books are more inspirational than instructional. Not to say that the sewing information is inconsquential but I think the inspirational value is greater. The format (Plan and Sew) is the same for all three books. This is not the eye-candy treat of Decorative Dressmaking or the instructional standard of the Nancy Zieman book, but it does have the time management piece down and it did contribute heavily to the type of sewer I am today. I don't know if you necessarily have to have a copy of all three of these books in your sewing library. If I had to choose just one, it would be the dress book! If you can get your hands on a copy just to read and decide if you should invest in the book, I would highly recommend that!

Since it is Friday night I am planning what to sew this weekend...more on that later!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I've been tagged...

Okay, I must admit that I have been tagged a couple of times now and have hopefully/wistfully/woefully looked the other way...but the 4 gore skirt has not been hemmed or worn yet so I have no pics and even though I have a book review written, I don't feel like typing it up now....

Nancy tagged me so here are my 8 things...really I gotta come up with 8!!! *smile*

1. I like the movie Pretty Woman so much that I actually wore out a VHS tape and had to buy another one!

2. I was engaged twice before I finally got married.

3. I have always wanted to be married and have children from a very young age. I originally wanted 4 girls! But reality intruded and I only had 3.

4. When I was younger and until I had my third child, I weighed less than 135 lbs. And I absolutely hated being skinny!

5. I am a Dancing with the Stars and American Idol fanatic. I LOVE both these shows!

6. I can put in an invisible zipper but don't do it well. I should really practice that more! *smile*

7. I learned to sew from my maternal grandmother and we share the same birthday!

8. I want to live to be 100 years old!

Alright Dancing with the Stars the Results show is on gotta go!!! And no, I am not going to make 8 other people go through this...*LOL* Hopefully I will get the skirt hemmed and have something to show you later this week...or another book review???

Enjoy your sewing journeys!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Simplicity 3631 - The Dress

I became intrigued by this pattern after Sew Stylish magazine devoted an entire issue to the pattern. The versatility of the pattern was right up my alley and the fact that you could get trendy corporate looks from the pattern only intensified my desire to own the pattern and to sew garments from it.

I thought that I would start with the dress first, because hey, I love dresses and they work so well in my corporate environment. However, what should have been a simple shift dress almost made me throw up my hands and declare that "I could not sew!"

First this pattern is only sized up to a 22. Now I can usually work with a pattern that is anywhere from a size 20 up to a size 24 and get a reasonably well fitted garment. However, Simplicity really just needs to make this pattern in a plus size. Because I totally reworked this pattern to get a dress that minimally fits well. It is because of my stubborness that I even got a dress out of this pattern. I had too much invested in it working. Gosh, I have bought fabric to make several copies of this dress as well as the jacket, top and skirt. So I really wanted it to work.

I know you are dying to see the finished product ~ so here it is:

And here are the particulars:

4 yards of a 100% tropical wool from Fabric Mart
2 yards of polyester lining

20" zipper, 2 yards of rayon hem tape

The only thing that is original on my pattern is the shoulder and bust area. Everything else has either been lengthened, added to or sliced up!

To the top:
~I added 2" in length to the front and back piece - I didn't like where the seam would hit (my abdomen is not a good place for a seam!)

~To the back piece I added a 3" wedge that started at 3/4 of an inch and grew to 3" at the hem. ~I also shortened the armhole by 1/4". I might add that back in...

~I did basically the same to the front but I also added another inch to the bottom of the top to make it even with the back piece.

~I also added a 1/4" on the front fold about 4" down from the top to the bottom of the piece.

~And I took a smidge of a fold in the neckline on the front and back piece.

To the skirt:

~I added 3" to the front of the skirt piece and then took 1" out of the side seam midway down to the hem. I needed the space in the abdomen area but not in the side seam.

~The same alteration was done to the back skirt piece.

So I make a bodice up first...with my first set of alterations it fit but the fit was too close. So back to the drawing board and I came up with the final alterations listed above. The pattern tells you to line only the top of the dress...why? So after assembling the front top and skirt pieces, I laid them down on top of the lining and cut a full lining piece and did the same for the back. And then I constructed the dress.

Will I make this again? I don't know. I am thinking about taking these pieces and laying them on top of my TNT dress pattern and seeing if I can recreate them with my TNT dress pattern. Then again, I have done all of this work so maybe I should try another dress. I don't know...because it was a lot of work to get an okay fitting dress. Anyway, there are plenty of photos in my Flickr album.

I am back to work tomorrow and my four gore TNT skirt still isn't hemmed. Ummm, maybe its because this dress has consumed me for the last three days! *smile* Anyway, I am going to wear "The Ladybug Dress" to work tomorrow and hem the skirt later in the week. The weather is suppose to be summer-like for the rest of the week so I have time to wear the skirt.

I have started fall sewing...both the Jackie O Retro Suit and this last dress are fall garments. I just may have to rethink my plans for Simplicity 3631!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Questions, Answers, Comments

First Questions and Answers...

There were quite a few comments and questions on the braid application! I didn't realize that it would draw so much attention or I would have written about it in the skirt post.

~How did you sew the foldover braid to the hem?
~Any tricks to it?
~What type of foldover braid are you using?

Well, I buy foldover bias braid from Daytona Trimmings. They have several kinds...the bias braid that I used in "Jackie O Retro Suit" and the
last jacket, a knit foldover binding and a cotton foldover binding. All come cut on the bias and in a multitude of colors. As for application, this is simple. I just fold the longer half over the front of the garment with the shorter half of the braid on the back of the garment. Then I pin it down. I sew a single line of stitching (stitch length about 2.5) through the center of the braid. Finally press it down.

What makes the application so easy is that the braid is cut on the bias and wraps easily around the fabric. This is one of those construction techniques that is really simple but gives a lot of ooomph for the money...or is it just that I have a really good source for the trim?! *smile*

Cidell asked - "The Quilting technique does it add some stability structure to the fashion fabric?"
I copied my technique from one that Susan Khalije detailed in a Threads article. The information below is from an article by Claire Schaeffer called, "The Comfortable Side of Couture - Practical Techniques of Coco Chanel." This article is from the Threads magazine but I have it in the book, Great Sewn Clothes. Since copyright issues are I'm sure involved, I will only quote a pertinent piece of the article.

"Chanel suits are lightweight, which adds to their comfort, because they're assembled without traditional interfacings, underlinings, facings and heavy linings. The jacket has only two fabric layers: the shell or fashion fabric, and a blouse-weight lining. Shell fabrics are often soft, loose and textured
handwovens...linings are of silk gauze, china silk, silk foulard, silk satin...."

So judging from the article I think comfort was Chanel's primarily goal. Mine was to try a new technique. Now did it stabilize the fabric - sure it did. IMHO, there is no way you could stitch one piece of fabric to another and not add some stability. Was that my primary goal? No.


There was a comment made about Jackie Kennedy's jacket back being cut on the bias...
Now I have studied this picture nine ways into Sunday and in her Bugnand suit the back is cut into 4 pieces. There are two center back pieces joined together with a center back seam and there are two side back pieces that are joined to the main center back piece. All of this seaming gives the illusion of the back being cut on the bias but it is not actually. And the way that I determined this was by looking at the angle of the plaid. Now that is how I viewed the photo and I have been living with this book on my bed, sleeping with me every night for the last several months. But mainly, this is my interpretation of the jacket! This is what I wanted to make for me. So this is what I shared with you.

Which leads to my next comment...
I have not turned off the anonymous commenters ability to post...mainly because I don't get too many of them. However, I would truly appreciate it if you do comment under anonymous if you would kindly sign your name. Several people do. If you don't want to sign your name, I am going to come right out and say, don't comment. If you have an opinion but aren't man or woman enough to own up to your words ~ let me repeat ~ don't comment! I am not looking for people to agree with me in all instances but it is a little high schoolish to leave a snippy comment and no name...moving on.

Stacy & Cherie mentioned pearls. Can I just tell you that I loves me some pearls! It is my favorite piece of jewelry in the entire world. I didn't have an engagement ring for years because I don't particularly like diamonds (can you believe?) and I couldn't find an interesting emerald ring that I liked. I think it was on my 5th wedding anniversary that my ex-husband presented me with the most amazing antique style emerald ring that I wore above my wedding band. It took the man 5+ years to find an acceptable ring! *LOL* But I digress, back to pearls. I have pearls in all strand lengths, all colors and I am trying hard to get my hands on the new Honora pearl necklace that has multi-colored pearls in it. I want that bad! Bad enough not to buy fabric! *LOL*

As for the Jackie Kennedy 3 strand pearl necklace on QVC - I have tried to purchase it a couple of times. A few times I tuned in too late and it was already sold out ~ maybe I should go on their website and see if its available!!!! *LOL* But Cherie, I know about the Jackie Kennedy reproduction jewelry on QVC!

Finally my "whining" post of yesterday...
Please forgive. I was just a little overwhelmed with a situation in my life and I whined on my blog...which believe it or not made me feel better and last night I did cut out my first version of the dress in Simplicity 3631. I am working on it now and I did something I don't usually do, I read the instructions...which caused some head shaking but I will tell you more about that when I show you my finished dress.

I'm off to sew and I hope I answered all of your questions...and if I didn't just leave me another comment and I promise I will get back to you!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I hate it when...

Life gets in the way...

I mean my sewing mojo was going, revved up high and running on all *eight* cyclinders. I was moving into uncharted territory - moving away from my list, getting ready to sew for the creativeness of it when....BAM!!!! got in the way!

Now my head is all twisted up and turned around...I can feel my sewing mojo slowly slipping away...and I don't know what to sew next. It isn't like I am going to lose a lot of sewing time behind this blip in the road...but it has unsettled me enough to make me doubt myself for just a minute...and to make me wonder what to do next?

So here I sit on Thursday evening...the easy 4 gore skirt just needs a hem...I can do that!! And I have to be away from home tomorrow for most of the day so I don't know if I will sew at all tomorrow! I can pick my sewing back up on Saturday morning, but what to make? What direction to take? And can I get it completed over the weekend ~ 'cause somewhere in there I have to mentally prepare to go back

Ahhhhhh, I hate when life gets in the way! Now where did I put those numbers for the Mega Millions lottery tickets I need to purchase tomorrow!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jackie O Retro Suit - The Skirt

The skirt for this suit is really kewl because all of the interest is in the back. The front of the skirt is plain where the back has a seam and it looks to be cut on the bias. Well that's the way it looked to me so that's how I made it.

McCalls 2795 - which is OOP and was copyright in 2000.

2 yards of a tweedy wool acrylic blend from Fabric Mart
3 yards of white polyester lining

30" of 1" non-roll elastic
Several yards of black foldover braid
Several yards of 1.5" wide polyester lace

I used my 4-gore TNT skirt pattern. The front piece was cut on the fold. The two back pieces were cut on the bias. I thought I would have to stabilize the back seam but it sewed up fine. After the skirt was put together, I measured out the hem and cut it to the length that I wanted. Then I sewed the foldover braid to the hem.

The lining was sewn the same way, but I added lace to the hem. It just seemed like the skirt should have a special touch since the jacket had so much attention paid to it. Lace was added to the top of the waistline and then the casing for the elastic was measured, folded down and pressed into place. Finally, the elastic was added to the waistline and the casing was stitched into place.

So here is a pic of me wearing just the skirt and a tank top.

Here I am wearing the entire suit - I still have some work to do on the jacket - these buttons are on with tape - the correct buttons haven't arrived yet!

And one with the jacket closed...

You can see more pictures of the process and the pieces in my Flickr album.

Next up ~ an easy 4 gore skirt so that I will have something I can wear to work right away. After that I will start working on the Sew Stylish pattern!

Jackie O Retro Suit Jacket ~ Thus Far

I am calling this project the Jackie O Retro Suit but in actuality she was still Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy when she wore this suit during the 1960 Presidential Campaign. Its just that the Jackie Kennedy Onassis I remember is the hip woman who lived, worked and played in NYC ~ where she was photographed with those big shades, long hair flowing, wearing the latest fashions walking around NYC.

First a little background on the suit. This information is from the book, "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years." The suit is by Bob Bugnand is made in a black and white houndstooth wool tweed with black braided trim, circa 1959. A 1958 review by Eugenia Sheppard, the women's page editor of the New York Herald Tribune wrote an article about him and that is how Jackie heard of his designs. His understated aesthetic and Parisian credentials appealed to her and that is how this suit came into her wardrobe. The book describes Bugnand's suit as an abstracted notion of Chanel's influential postwar suit with its sloping shouldered cardigan jacket edged in braided trim, skirt cut with a gentle ease of movement, and textural tweed check.

All of these features appealed to me too and that is why I wanted it to be my first sewing vacay project. Well truthfully, I thought that it would be an easier project than all of the work that I want to do on Simplicity 3631 - the Sew Stylish pattern. And I was looking for some results from my sewing vacay ~ because fall clothing just takes much longer to complete than spring/summer pieces.

Project Pieces:
Vogue 2285 ~ is OOP and copyright 1999. This is the TNT jacket pattern that I am using as a starting point for this outfit. I shortened the length and rounded off the neckline as well as the bottom of the front pieces.

3 yards of a tweedy wool/acrylic blend from Fabric Mart
3 yards of a white polyester lining

Several yards of a black foldover braid
1 yard of 3" wide black grosgrain ribbon
4 black glass buttons
1 pair 1/2" shoulder pads

Can I just say that this is a pretty easy jacket that could be lined and would have accomplished the look that I was going for...but that's not what happened because I am intrigued with quilted fabric ala Chanel. So I took a pretty easy project and made it an epic journey because I spent an entire day quilting lining to the fashion fabric. I have never done this before so I used an article in Threads Magazine (issue #121 October/November 2005) by Susan Khalije called "Inside A Chanel Jacket" for instructions on how to quilt the fabric and lining together.

Quilting the fashion fabric to the lining as stated previously is time consuming but the process was interesting. First I measured out large pieces of both the fashion fabric and the lining making sure that the grainlines were correct for both pieces. Then I pinned the lining to the fabric using a lot of pins.

I stitched the two pieces together using the plaid as the guideline ~ stitching from the lining side. I would sew down one row, skip a row, and then sew the next. It made my quilted rows about 1.5 inches apart. I used one color thread on the top and another on the bottom so that the thread would coordinate with both pieces. Directional sewing was very important here. I sewed top to bottom only ~ never flipping the piece and sewing bottom to top. This kept the tension in the rows right.

After each piece was quilted, I then steam pressed the front and back of the piece.

The pattern pieces were laid on top of the quilted fabric and cut out. Now, if I was using a true Chanel technique, I would sew the seam first and then hand stitch the lining closed over it. However, my fabric was very ravelly and I really only wanted the quilted look to the fabric and lining so I took my fabric to the serger and serged the edges of the pieces. I used flat felled seams to sew the garment together. To finish the seams off, I cut a strip of lining fabric and sewed it flat over the seam.

The sleeve in this pattern is a one piece sleeve but I had huge pieces of quilted fabric left over and I couldn't bear the thought of quilting more fabric. So I made the sleeve a two piece sleeve with a seam down the center. This allowed me to use the leftover fabric and achieve a well fitted sleeve.

I added black grosgrain ribbon to the center fronts to give stability to the front of the jacket without taking away some of the softness of the cardigan type jacket. It will also give stability to the buttonholes and the buttons that will be placed on the front of the jacket.

The last and probably most important aspect of this jacket was matching the plaids. To achieve a perfect match, each piece was cut separately and then laid next to the fabric and pattern piece so that the plaids matched perfectly. This is also a simple plaid so I only had to do basic matching. The next interesting match was at the armholes. I matched the plaids from the front sleeve notch and shoulder seam to the back sleeve notch. This worked well and I am basically pleased with the way the plaid matches in the front.

Finally after the jacket was constructed, I added the black foldover braid to the entire jacket. The last part was to add shoulder pads. After pinning in a 1/2" shoulder pad and a 3/4" shoulder pad to check how they looked in the jacket, I settled on the 1/2" shoulder pads.

So here is the jacket so far ~ on Lulu (who is much more broad shouldered than I am). I am waiting for the black glass buttons to arrive from Fabric Mart to finish the jacket.

Next up ~ the Jackie O Retro Suit skirt...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Why Do You Sew?

I know this is like the most overasked and overanswered question to and from sewists! But I am asking it in a different manner. We all know the "safe" normal answers...great fit, colors you want to wear, to get the latest styles inexpensively, etc.

But let me put it another way..."If you had unlimited funds and time, would you still sew?" Would you still have the same reasons for sewing? Would it still fulfill the needs that it presently fills in your life?

Now, why am I posing these questions? Because when I have the time to sew, and can spend quality time at my sewing machine, I don't just sew. I take on epic projects. I challenge myself, my skills, as well as try to push the envelope creatively. This fills a "need" in my life. A need to create, a need to dream and imagine, a need to "design" something, construct it and bring it to fruition.

I have long moved past the point of looking for a pattern and a piece of fabric that looks like the outfit on the pattern envelope. Or to make an outfit that is similar to something I saw in a department store. Sewing to me now is about design, interpretation and pushing sewing construction boundaries. I don't feel it is necessary to sew like everyone else.

Sewing is MY personal expression. Each garment I make is like a painting a picture. When I sew I am looking at the "hues" or "shades" of sewing. My backstory to the garment is as important to me as the finished garment. And after taking a few courses from Cynthia Guffey, I realized that I needed to learn to enjoy the journey!

I have been sewing since I was 11. And in the last 37 years on this personal journey, sewing has meant so many different things to me. It has accompanied me through all the stages of my life: teenagehood, singleness, marriage, motherhood, divorce and singleness again. My talent ~ and yes I believe sewing is a talent! ~ has developed and grown, has changed and fulfilled different things in my life. I have met some amazing women because I sew and experienced some wonderful times but mostly it has caused me to grow in ways I never would have thought of!

So...if you had unlimited funds and time would you still sew?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Saturday Morning Ramblings

It's Saturday morning and the possibilities for the next nine days loom bright and clear since my sewing vacay started yesterday! I have nothing really spectacular to share sewing-wise this morning just some odds & ends thoughts...

Storing Trim:
As anyone who reads my ramblings regularly knows, I love trim! I think a garment is only complete once a little embellishment has been added to it. I am sure that my addiction to trim is aided by the fact that I live and work near such wonderful trim resources: Daytona Trimmings, M&J Trimmings and Tinsel Trading. Each of whom have been feeding my addiction for years. So I have a pretty good stash of I should, since I purchased them in 5 & 10 yard lengths for years. As I was putting away the latest purchases, I thought I would share with you how I store them.

First, I love the cardboard inserts inside of the pantyhose packages...if you don't wear pantyhose I am sure you are lost here! *smile* But the pantyhose arrive wrapped around a lightweight cardboard insert. I cut this insert in half and wrap trim around it.

Then the trim is placed inside a ziplock bag...

And finally it is stuffed into this trim drawer in my "Sewing Armoire." I love this piece of furniture, that I got from my sister. She moved into her house several years ago and the previous residents left it and she didn't want it! Can you believe!?! So it has housed my sewing notions for the last several years.

More fabric:
Yeap, during that last stressful week of work, I succumbed to one of those fabric emails and bought these pieces from

I probably bought them because they reminded me of this outfit in the Barrie Pace catalogue:

Hopefully I will get an outfit made from them before Spring '08 - but you just never know because I could be inspired by something totally different by then! *LOL*

My next sewing project:
I am calling this one "Jackie O Retro." I have been on a quest to find some corporate gear that was unlike what everyone else wears at work...just a little to clone-like for this I took it back especially since retro is "very hot" this year. After checking out Jackie's outfits from the book, "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" I have chosen a few outfits that I would like to interpret and add to my wardrobe. This will be the first one.

One last thing ~ I love the internet! I really wanted to find a picture of the Pure DKNY dress that I saw in Macy's last weekend and sure enough it was on the DKNY site. So here is a picture of the dress:

I am sure that it won't look like this once I have "interpreted" it but it will have the same basic bones! *LOL* Donna Karan has nothing to fear - however, since it doesn't come in my size - it's not like I could have purchased it from her anyway! *LOL*

So after I read a few more sewing blogs and catch up on the happenings at my favorite internet sewing board ~ Stitchers Guild ~ I will head to my sewing area. I have plenty of Mountain Dew (the drink of Champions), lots of inspiration and time to sew!

Enjoy your sewing journeys today and every day!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Lunch with a Dear Friend ~ Colleen Jones

Oh the days are rushing by much too fast...I meant to post about this days ago and am just now getting to it. On Wednesday afternoon I had lunch with one of my sewing heros...Colleen Jones! If you are new to Pattern Review or any of the internet sewing boards you probably don't know her or have heard of her but she use to teach many of the online classes at PR.

I haven't seen Colleen for a couple of years because life just gets in the way! She lives in a big rambling farmhouse in New Hampshire and I live in the suburbs of New Jersey and since I took this last job I don't seem to do much but work! So it was so much fun to finally hook up with her again and lunch went way to fast!

Now why is Colleen my sewing hero? Ohmygosh...I would say first and foremost because she is a great teacher. I have learned so much from her but it is her style of teaching that just works for me.
  • It is gentle but pushy - she always encouraged me to learn more and to push myself.
  • It is funny - there is always a great story or joke associated with the technique she is teaching.
  • It is innovative - she was teaching the Full Bust Adjustment (FBA) using a pie chart before anyone else that I'd heard of...
She is as big a fabricaholic as I am...well probably bigger! *LOL* I had my first trip to Malden Mills with her (and I am not a Polar fleece kinda girl!) but I learned to appreciate it! And even have several Polar fleece blankets - thanks to her and my friend Lisa! She also encouraged me to branch outside my comfort zone of fabrics and to try other kinds.

However there are two words that I always think of when I think of Colleen - generous and kind. She is that way with knowledge, books, fabric, just everything. I started to collect older sewing books because of Colleen - who gifted me with my first Adele Margolis book. I would never have heard of Mary Brooks Pickens, The Womens Sewing Library or Edythe Bishop, if not for Colleen. I own Lulu (my dressform) thanks to Colleen. Who not only gifted her to me but she also helped me fit the cover for her!

Yes, she has been a huge influence on my sewing and is a wonderful teacher. I truly miss the daily (yes, it was at one point via a sewing email list) that I had with her. If you've ever taken a class from her, experienced her wonderful personality at a PR weekend, or just gained some insightful information from her, please share!

She's a little too busy now to spend quality time on all the sewing boards but she is still my sewing hero!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Snoop Shopping in the Largest Store in the World

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at Macy's 34th Store ~ which is the largest department store in the world. I was there last week with my youngest daughter but she had absolutely no interest in the designer duds or the shoe department - two of my favorite floors in Macy's! So yesterday I spent a wonderful six hours there by myself and here are a few of my observations.

First - if you don't own either of these two patterns Vogue 2984 or Simplicity 3631; RUN do not walk to your nearest pattern retailer and purchase both of them. The Anne Klein suit - both the jacket and the skirt are displayed in her designer shop in Macy's EXACTLY the same as the pattern. So you can make your own version of this designer original at home. I know. I examined both pieces throughly and was amazed that Vogue has the license for a design that is selling at the retail level right now.

Now some version of the pieces in Simplicity 3631 was shown in almost every designer's collection that I looked at. The yoked jacket was everywhere - with and without buttons. Some variation of the dress was in most collections or separately on the dress floor at Macy's. The body of the dress was similar but the seam or dart treatment was the distinguishing factor between the dresses.

Another interesting thing to me was the hand and weight of the fabrics used in the garments. I don't shop retail much - okay hardly ever! I mostly snoop shop through the internet, catalogs and magazines so I rarely touch the fabrics used in the garments that inspire me. I was a little astonished at the flimsiness of the fabric...very lightweight...very bad hands that were cheesy feeling and looking...nasty acetate linings that were in garments retailing for over $100 a piece and that was the low end.

Here are some interesting details I noticed:

Snaps - covered snaps in medium to large sizes were everywhere. Beneath huge buttons used on the yoked jackets, used in regular jackets to give the front of the jacket a clean appearance, used at the back of necklines in dresses. Lots of snaps!

Zipper applications - used on jacket fronts (Calvin Klein had a great industrial type zipper with a big zipper pull on the front of one of his jackets!) and on sleeves.

2 piece sleeves with a v-opening at the hem like the application I used for Vogue 8209 - this look was in abundance in a lot of the collections. And the opening was lined so that the jacket could be cuffed...very kewl.

Yoked neck applications were on everything - jackets, dresses, all kinds of fabrications and colors. This is as hot a look as the duro look was in seasons past!

Designer Gear:

Calvin Klein had a great jacket in his collection that was made from a subtle plaid in a taupe color. The thing that intrigued me about the jacket was that it had a 2 piece sleeve and the underside of the sleeve was cut on the bias - so the it gave the plaid on the sleeve a very funky appearance. You wouldn't notice it until the person moved their arm - kewl!

Pure DKNY had a great dress ~ that I am copying!!!! It was cut with a t-shirt bodice from a wool jersey and the skirt was made from a lightweight tweed. It was a soft, very straight hanging silhoutte that will definitely end up in my wardrobe!

Tahari had a great silk short sleeve blouse but what provided the interest was the embroidery at the hemline. It was made out of a sandwashed silk and the embroidered hemline was also scalloped. The blouse closed with an invisible zipper in the side. It retailed for $95 and was in the most amazing soft pastel colors. It was displayed alongside some awesome gray suits...tooo kewl.

Ellen Tracy had a lot of wool & wool blend boucle jackets - very soft to the touch with appealing seam treatments such as piping in several fabrications (leather/satin/fabric) and flat fold bias seaming. Most of her jackets had peter pan collars. And there was a lot of color - I kept thinking shades of autumn when touching pieces in her shop.

But the Oscar (Oscar de la Renta) shop had the most color - his garments didn't stand out that much because there was still alot of summer in his shop - but color ohmygosh was there a huge amount of it. A feast to these eyes that are sooooo tired of all black!

Which brings me to something else I I was moving around the sales floor I saw that all the sales people were dressed head to toe in black. So I had to ask one of them what that was about. It seems that Macy's has a new policy - all sales associates must wear black. They can add color in the form of a shirt or blouse but that's it. They are dressed in black from head to toe...oh and if the women are wearing a skirt they have to wear pantyhose! This is starting in the 34th Street Store and being rolled out to all the other Macy's so it is coming to a mall near you!

Sooooo, do you want to know what I bought?

Shoes of course:

A pair of flat black patent leather slingbacks

and a pair of chocolate brown slingbacks - in patent leather - can you believe?!

This top in chocolate brown...

and some jewelry from the Monet counter (yes, I am contrary as I don't have pierced ears!)....

Everything else I could make myself! *smile*

So here is what I learned ~

1. I have worried that my use of trim is over the top and not representative of what's in RTW. Wrong - there is soooo much trim used in designer garments. I think that is what they use to distinguish the garments from the bridge and lower priced lines.

2. I learned that my sewing is on par with the construction techniques used in designer clothing and in some instances I take more care in my applications and techniques.

3. I also realized that the quality of fabric that I use is better than in most bridge lines. In some cases it is comparable to the designer labels - but not in all cases.

It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon - I mean if I wasn't going to sew! *LOL* I actually got to touch garments that I had only previously seen in a magazine or on the internet. I got to see details and construction up close and my only regret is that I didn't have a camera phone so that I could discreetly take a few pics!

If you get a chance, spend a few leisurely hours strolling around your local department store. Get invigorated to sew more, knowing that you can use fabrics that are of the same quality or better, in patterns that have the same up-to-date stylings!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I Have My Own Style

Style - now there's a word! And sometimes it's an overused word. defines it as:
1. a particular kind, sort, or type, as with reference to form, appearance, or character: the baroque style; The style of the house was too austere for their liking.
2. a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode of action or manner of acting: They do these things in a grand style.
3. a mode of living, as with respect to expense or display.
4. an elegant, fashionable, or luxurious mode of living: to live in style.
5. a mode of fashion, as in dress, esp. good or approved fashion; elegance; smartness.
6. the mode of expressing thought in writing or speaking by selecting and arranging words, considered with respect to clearness, effectiveness, euphony, or the like, that is characteristic of a group, period, person, personality, etc.: to write in the style of Faulkner; a familiar style; a pompous, pedantic style.
7. those components or features of a literary composition that have to do with the form of expression rather than the content of the thought expressed: His writing is all style and no substance.
8. manner or tone adopted in discourse or conversation: a patronizing style of addressing others.

9. a particular, distinctive, or characteristic mode or form of construction or execution in any art or work: Her painting is beginning to show a personal style.
10. go out of style, to become unfashionable: The jacket he's wearing went out of style ten years ago.
11. in style, fashionable.

Okay - they define the heck out of this word but I have highlighted the definitions that pertain to where I'm going. Where I'm going is this, I have a style, a particular form of dress that makes me happy, looks good on me and most times works for whatever situation I find myself in. Every once in awhile I have to remember that my "style" is right for me, that I shouldn't relinquish it because of the crowd's idea of what is right, or that I don't necessarily need to change it because of what is presently being worn in my environment.

I say all of this because, for the last week there have been a series of important meetings in our office which will continue through Wednesday of this upcoming week. When these types of meetings occur in my office, the prevailing dress is black pantsuits. While I understand the convenience, ease of wearing and uniformity of this look - everything in me rebels. So I am left with the challenge of expressing my style without standing out in the sea of uniformity. Also being me, I can't stand wearing the same old pieces of clothing to each and every type of meeting that we have like this (and trust me we do this ALOT!)

So I have been trying to come up with new ideas to sew...last weekend's sewing was a bust! And this morning it finally hit me as to why. I was trying to "imitate" a look instead of being true to who I am. And then I started to wonder, how many of us do that? Even with our ability to sew and make what works for our body types, our lifestyles, our favorite fabrics, etc. How many of us sew for who we would like to be? Or who we think we should be? Or even who someone else wants us to be? And if so, why do we do this?

I think I am going to have a better sewing weekend - this weekend - because I am going to make something that's me, that is my style but that will work in the pool of uniformity that I go to everyday.

So talk back to me people...tell me about your style. Why does it work? And if it doesn't, why doesn't it? But also are you sewing for you and your lifestyle? Or are you sewing for who you want to be or who you hope to be?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Photo Shoots

I know y'all must be tired of those hanging shots. I know y'all must wonder why don't I just wait to post about my latest garment when I have some good shots of me in the clothes...Do you really wanna know why? Well, I'm gonna tell you...its one word - T E E N A G E R S!!!! See my photographer is my youngest daughter who is 17. Now those of you who have teenagers know where I'm going...

Teenagers are moody. Teenagers are fickle. Teenagers do not always see the intrinsic value in what their mothers make ESPECIALLY if its not for them! Are you following me here? So I have learned that after a day spent at the sewing machine nurturing my latest creation to life, that the wisest course of action is not to ask the teenage photographer to rain on my parade. That is why I have so many flat shots right after a garment is if you've been bearing with me, please bear with me just a little longer...okay!

I have finally figured out a way to get some feet on Lulu...for those of you who've just started reading my blog...Lulu is my dressform. And Lulu lost her legs approximately 3 years ago when I moved to this new place...the movers said that they didn't lose them but since Lulu perplexed them when they placed her in the moving van, I was not surprised her legs went missing....but I digress. I think I have watched enough HGTV to get Lulu legs and during my vacay I am headed off to Home Depot to make this happen...then no more flat pictures against the wall! (Y'all thought I was never gonna tie that one up didn't you! hahahahaha!)

Okay finally to what y'all really wanted to see...

Shoes.....hahahahaha ~ as an aside I am really in a strange mood tonight. Seriously though these are the shoes that I wore with the outfit today.

And finally me:

and again ~ my pensive, reflective side....

last one (a full view with the shoes)...

Ohhhhhh and this is what came on the big brown truck today:

5 yards of black/white plaid wool boucle
6 yards of black wool crepe
4 yards of a beige/black houndstooth linen cotten blend
2 yards of black sandwashed silk

All from the mighty giant
of internet fabric retailers - Fabric Mart!

One last thing and I'm done for the evening...Julie, owner of Timmel Fabrics sponsored a 6 week Summer Contest. Click on the link and you can see the entrants. I think you have to receive her weekly newsletter to vote for a winner, so if you do vote!

More sewing chatter later...

Monday, September 03, 2007

It's Just Another One of Those Days

Or weekends....*sigh*

By the lack of posts you should have known that I did not have a spectacular sewing weekend. Actually it was quite a bust. I don't know how I managed it but both garments that I cut out just didn't work at first and needed a lot of work to make them presentable. I have managed to save part of the first one and have given the other one over until next weekend. However, it is just not how I thought the weekend would be! And on top of all of that, I am not sure how relaxing this weekend has been.

I purchased this knit fabric from and was so excited when it came but this stuff is a bear to work with. The stripes are sheer and on the horrible skirt that I made to accompany the jacket one of the stripes at the waistline ripped. So the fabric needs to be handled with care. Also it doesn't press worth a damn and I hate that unpressed, hands at home made look that an unpressed garment has...let's see what else...I was just disappointed with the fabric and had to work extra hard to get a viable garment.

I started with my TNT Burda Cardigan pattern - 8869 which is OOP. I have used this cardigan pattern alot and I was attempting to make a suit like this one ~ the brown cardigan & skirt from the EOS knit. I thought it would make a great outfit for the busy week of meetings that I have next week. That brown suit has worked well for me at these type of meetings in the past and I was looking to repeat that success with this one but it wasn't to be.

I finally settled on altering the style of the cardigan and adding details like black foldover binding and an organza ribbon tie to help this jacket along. The skirt is just a mess right now.

My original plan was to make my TNT 4 gore skirt but I couldn't get the skirt and the jacket to come out of the fabric with the stripes going vertically. This was probably poor planning on my part but I truly thought that I had purchased enough fabric...NOT! So plan B, the 4 gore skirt with horizontal stripes but just the thought of cutting the gores so that the stripes would match made me want to cry. So I just put the fabric away...can we say meltdown. At that point, I started to clean my house and I just gave up!

I can admit when I am defeated but after sleeping on it, I decided that I have a TNT 8 gore skirt pattern that I could probably make work with a minimum amount of heartache. So I arose bright and early this morning to tame this fabric into shape...and this is what I ended up with:

Yeah, I think the fabric got the best of me! *LOL* However, I think I do have a trick for it. I am going to take one of the panels out of the skirt and see if I can save it that way. Can you say I just won't lay down and die....*LOL* But I am not happy with my weekend productivity...and the only consolation is that I have finally made enough garments that I can pull together enough outfits for work...but it just wasn't my plan...

So here is how I will wear the jacket to work tomorrow with the Sewing Workshop mission tank from my SWAP earlier this year and a pair of vanilla tencil pants that I made a year or two ago:

Yes, I know you want to see pictures of me in the garments...tomorrow after work...right now Justin Timberlake's special is playing on HBO and I want to get back to singing and dancing with my daughters! *LOL*

Hopefully next weekend will yield better results...

Saturday, September 01, 2007

A Shout Out to Stitchers Guild

This is my own personal acknowledgement or shout out to Stitchers Guild or Artisan's Square (which is how I refer to it!) There are several sewing boards out there and I am sure that everyone has a favorite but Artisans Square is mine!

It evolved from the now defunct Sewing World which I also adored. Maybe because I found a group of women who sewed with the same intensity and curiosity that I had or maybe it was because I felt so welcomed when I nervously made my first post there but whatever, I felt welcomed into that community. In Sewing World's last days a group of women wanted to perserve that sewing community and formed Stitchers Guild/Artisan's Square. They are Kathryn (known as Fzxdoc), Liana author of the Sew Intriguing Blog, Liana's sister Lisa and computer genius extraordinare, Dragonlady.

I believe it is a well moderated board with a gentle, welcoming community that encourages everyone to sew or knit. I never worry that it will self-destruct or that animosity will be allowed to run amok there. I am secure that positivity will reign! And I am always welcome there, sorta like Norm when he bellied up to the bar at Cheers! *smile*

But what I love even more than that is the sharing that happens there. This site contains so much sewing knowledge that is willingly shared even if you happen to sew it in a different manner or use a different technique. Courtesy, encouragement, sharing, knowledge those are words that come to mind when when I think of that site. Now in the manner of full disclosure, I am friends with Kathryn and Liana but this friendship developed from posting to Sewing World. I have made several other friends from this site and fabric shopped with a few them! *LOL* But if you are looking for an encouraging community where you can learn to take your sewing to the next level, stop on by! Visit awhile, introduce yourself and find yourself welcomed into a community of amazing women and men who LOVE to sew!


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