Monday, January 28, 2008

Why oh Why...can't I make just one?!

I am moving at a glacial pace on my jacket. I don't know if it's 'cause I'm tired and not feeling well or if it's because I have already made quite a few garments for my "Corporate Chic" wardrobe and I just don't need to rush this one.

Or it could be because there is just so many construction aspects to this jacket. I made some samples...yeah, I know this sample making thing is getting out of hand! *LOL* I was considering underlining the fabric with silk organza...however, after I made the samples ~ fashion fabric with the silk organza vs. the fashion fabric with lightweight knit fusible interfacing, I liked the hand of the fabric better with the all of the pieces needed to be fused. Now this is not that big a deal when you are using a press but when you are using a little Rowenta...we are talking major time stealer!

So the shell of the jacket is finished with the sleeves basted in...sorry the picture is so dark but you know how it is photographing black...

The sleeves cut from the lining pieces...

Next up is to cut the body of the jacket from the lining fabric.

Now I know you are wondering about the title, right? Tell me, does this happen to you? As you work with the fabric, cutting it out, sewing it up, etc...does it start to speak to you? Does it tell you what other garments you can make with it? Opening possibilities and making you travel down roads that you hadn't originally seen or planned? Like opening a road map and finding a new highway to a familiar destination...or is that just me?

Because, this fabric is talking loud y'all. It has planned out an accompanying dress which was not in my plans at ALL! I picked this fabric to make this jacket BECAUSE it worked with two dresses I have already made and worn! But noooooo, now because of fabric-speak, I have plans for a black/white dress with an insert that is going to be fabu underneath this jacket. I also have plans for some awesome buttons for the jacket that weren't in the original plan either. So see, I can't make just one piece! *LOL*

Anyway, this is my update...letting you know where I am with the jacket now! I have also updated my "What I'm Sewing Now" sidebar on the blog. I have a few other pieces planned...hopefully things I can get completed before it is time to turn my thoughts to spring/summer sewing.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Things you can learn from a UFO

As I have stated before I have very few UFO's and if there is still one hanging around there is a very good reason for it...

Thus this is from McCalls 2085. I started it at least 7 or 8 years ago. Several times I have thought about tossing it but always at the last minute I have held onto it. Once a few years ago I pulled it out to finish it with the intention of shortening it...but that never happened. I just couldn't take the scissors to it. And now I know why...

Because it matches the S3631 dress perfectly! And because when I tried it on this morning, it fits perfectly...well the shoulders are a little wide for me but nothing I can't live with. I can't find the collar pieces and I may end up doing without them but other than that I understand NOW why I held onto it. It will so work with this dress...can we say beautiful new "Corporate Chic" outfit!

Also since the jacket is unfinished, I can see all of the construction details that I did to the inside of this jacket...the sleeve heads added, the shoulder pads catch-stitched to the jacket and the muslin jacket shields that are inserted. I started this jacket at a weekend sew-in that Colleen Jones sponsored that I attended with my friend Lisa in New Hampshire. I am now inspired to finish it! Well after I make this new version!

This jacket provides the perfect roadmap for the black/white tropical wool that will be my interpretation of the Barrie Pace jacket and dress. From seeing this UFO, I have already altered the front and back shoulder pieces, making the shoulder seams a little shorter...I have definitely decided to add sleeve heads to the jacket (wasn't sure if I was going to do that before) and found another set of those shoulder pads that work so well with the UFO.

So this is where I'm at on the BP Interpretation Jacket - fabric/lining and underlining pretreated, pattern alterations made, and I'm getting ready to cut out my fabric fashion. Just wanted to give you an update 'cause I'm heading back to my sewing area to spend some quality time with these jackets!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My Threads Collection

I know not the post you were expecting...but two things happened to me.

One - my bookshelf holding my magazines collapsed...yeap, shelves just folded in on themselves. Now I knew this was going to happen, because I have rescued and rearranged it several times trying to forestall the inevitable...well the inevitable has occurred and now I need to either purchase a new bookshelf and some magazine holders 'cause stacking the magazines on a shelf ain't hitting it! Or leave the stacks of magazine articles laying in my living room floor - NOT!

Two - a friend asked for an article from an older Threads magazine that she did not have...which of course having saved every Threads since I first started purchasing them...I did have!

These two events caused me to reflect on how awesome the entire Threads magazine library is that I own. I have almost every issue since December 1991-January 1992, Issue No. 38 (where the cover price was $4.75). I have about 5 or 6 issues prior to that date but they are really sporadic. I started to purchase Threads Magazine back when my daughters were babies.

I was working a job that I didn't like but it was close to home (5 minutes away), I didn't have to work overtime or weekends, I could come home for lunch and check on my children or food shop during the day, and it brought in the extra money that my family needed. A co-worker knew that I sewed, admired it and encouraged me...the sad thing is that I don't even remember her name. I was in my 30's at the time and she was in her 50's. She sewed but she primarily knitted, the most amazing sweaters! Anyway, one day as I was headed out to the local fabric shop, in those days I bought a piece of fabric and a pattern for each project, I had very little stash, she told me to look for the Threads I bought it.

Now I would like to say that I was instantly hooked! Subscribed and/or purchased each one from then, not quite! I liked the magazine but with a young family and a daughter still in Huggies, I had other priorities...sewing was pretty far down the list. But somewhere around 1992, I did start to purchase them frequently and then I got a subscription. I have subscribed off and on since then. I have been consistently collecting Threads magazines for 16 years!

Whew! What an introduction! *LOL* To the real point of this Threads collection is a wonderful assemblage of sewing information...even when the issues were lukewarm, the collection taken as a whole is jam-packed with sewing knowledge. There is no aspect of sewing that hasn't been covered by the Threads staff! Of course some things that were too advanced for me when I first picked up a magazine, is on point now! And some of the things that I needed earlier on to take my sewing to the next level, don't interest me as much anymore.

But that is the incredible thing about does try to hit a sewist in whatever stage of learning he or she is at...which is an awesome task! And one that the staff has managed to do on a pretty consistant basis! I know others have become bored with the magazine or tired of it and stopped purchasing it. However, I never did and as a result there is an encyclopedia of sewing know-how at my fingertips. For that I'm grateful and glad that I hung in there with the Threads staff.

So if you are just starting to collect Threads...and I whole-heartedly suggest that you do! Or if you've stopped and wondered why you should continue, just go back through a few years of the magazines that you have and reread some of the articles, you will be sooooo encouraged to continue to pick up new ones and maybe even buy some back issues from the Threads website, from Ebay and even periodically from Patternreview's classified section.

One last thing, I don't know how my overseas visitors can subscribe to or purchase Threads, I hope that you can. If so I am not sure what postage is but again, if you can manage it, I definitely would try to get my hands on some copies. I believe that this magazine series is invaluable to the sewist!

Also for anyone asking, I have NO affliations with Threads magazine or the staff. I just love this magazine and am so appreciative that this sewing instruction is at my fingertips due to their diligence!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I Agree...

Y'all know that I agree with you...the sleeves SUCK! *LOL*

I HAD a vision of something a little funky but still corporate. What I ended up with instead was "Little House on the Prairie" plays "Corporate Dress Up"...definitely not Corporate Chic!

First, thanks everyone for your wonderful comments and suggestions...there wasn't a bad one in the bunch! Many of them gave me pause and all of them have jumpstarted my creative juices...I can feel the ideas flowing again! I think I am going to let a few of these ideas simmer on the back burner until the weekend and I believe I can move this garment off the UFO list and into my closet!


The new Early Spring Barrie Pace catalog is up on their website. I am LOVING the cover look right now in a fall/winter fabric and then again for spring in a fantabalious linen! Oh...I can feel my heart beating faster already at the mere mention of Spring! *LOL*

I have already pulled fabric and lining fabric for a jacket version. Also I have a TNT jacket pattern that I KNOW fits me so except for making a few notion choices, I hope to work on this piece this weekend.

Now I know that some of you have already caught onto the fact that I mentioned the jacket only...well that's because I chose a black with white pindot wool blend from the fabric collection to use for my first version. This was a deliberate choice. I intend for this coat/jacket to work with both versions of my Simplicity 3631 dresses. I imagine Spring/Summer versions of this outfit in luscious pastel linens which thankfully already reside in my fabric collection!

Thanks again for talking back at was soooooo appreciated!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Menswear Lace" Dress

This dress is still not finished...I didn't feel like sewing much this weekend and pretty much took it easy. Usually this stresses me out when I have three days to sew and nothing emerges from my sewing machine, but this weekend I was so tired that I just didn't care.

So the dress needs to be hemmed. One minute I see it and hate it...the next minute I'm not so sure. I know its the sleeves that I'm dissatisfied with. I took a chance and did something different and now it might be a little toooooo far to the it hangs, waiting to be hemmed.

I hate UFO's so I have two options:

1. Take the sleeves out and make them over. However, if I do that I will have to rework the sleeves I have because I only have scraps of fabric left...or...

2. Take the sleeves out completely and wear the dress as a jumper.

I like the lace on the bottom of the sleeves the dress sits. And I need to move on, 'cause did I mention I hate UFO's...

Anyway, weigh in...all opinions are welcome! Doesn't mean I'm gonna follow your advice! *smile* But I will definitely read it!

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

I am a 48 year old black woman living in the United States. I am the daughter of a woman born in the segregated south, who went to "colored" only schools, drank from water fountains marked "white" and "colored", and used public restrooms marked "white" and "colored". My grandparents were descendants of sharecroppers, freed slaves and Native Americans.

As a small child visiting my grandparents in South Carolina, I remember picking cotton with them and walking down the main street in town with my grandfather ~ a tall, dark skinned man with hazel green eyes, who would have to get off the sidewalk and walk in the street when white men passed us by, calling him boy and nigga, a man who didn't dare raise his eyes and stare at a white woman as she passed by.

So to me today is a very special day, a day worth celebrating!

Yesterday, I went to a program at my mom's church in celebration of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., called, "The Man and the Message." There were passages of his most famous speeches played and spoken, there were songs of freedom sung, and the children of the church danced and sang. There was even an offering taken for the local food bank but there were two things that really touched my heart...

One was the Litany that was included in the program...and I include a part of here...

CONGREGATION: Martin Luther King, Jr. envisioned the ultimate freedom: the freedom achieved in struggle; the freedom reached in brotherhood and sisterhood; the freedom inspired by the lot of a people; the freedom free of hate; the freedom full of love.

LEADER 1: He came into our lives when the yearning of a people to be free had turned their attention to justice. For justice, and only justice, we shall follow, that we may live and inherit the land which the Lord our God gave us.

CONGREGATION: He reminded us that the spirit of man and woman soars from depths of despair with the strength and belief in the promise of the Creator. We know and we testify: the Lord loves justice; God will not forsake the saints.

LEADER 2: And so he set off with us on a journey for justice. It was a journey proclaiming the words of the ancient prophet, Amos: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream." It was a journey calling forth the modern Christian ministry to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

CONGREGATION: And even when death was confronted, as the journey reached Memphis, he could say in final triumph, that in life he had found something worth dying for, something worth life itself - The Promised Land, a land of freedom with justice.

ALL: We praise the Lord God for sending us a man of peace, a man of non-violence who fought for liberty, a man of God who worked for people. Thank you Lord, for Martin Luther King, Jr. who inspired us with his dream, who walked into our lives and our hearts with his marches for justice, who demanded freedom with great courage in the face of grave danger, and who has now passed on into your Promised Land. Thank you for his noble legacy to continue the journey to that land here on earth. Thank you God.

The other thing that touched me was the address given by one of the NJ state Congressman, who was of Indian descent, who attended the service. His comments paraphrased were basically that every immigrant, every person from another country that has made their way to America after Dr. King's valiant fight, owed a debt of gratitude to Dr. King and the people who marched, fought and suffered with him because their fight for equality made it possible for everyone else who came behind to be free in America!

I know for many that this is just a day off from work. The post office and banks are closed. The retail outlets are running more sales and you can sleep late, run errands or just relax. But to me and my family, this is a day of celebration, a day of reflection, a day of atonement but mostly a day of gratitude...because someone cared enough to stand up! Someone believed enough in freedom for all men and women no matter their color or creed, believed in an America that would, could and should change...

So I celebrate today and every day a man of vision, a man of courage, a man who had a dream, that still is working on becoming a reality...

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Samples and more samples

I know that it seems that I sew like the wind...but actually by the time I sit down to the sewing machine I have so planned out a garment that all that is left is the sewing.

One of the things that I do is make samples of techniques, interfacing, thread usage, etc. I use to hate making samples. I thought they wasted valuable sewing time. I have since learned that making a sample actually saves me so much sewing time, especially if something I have envisioned doesn't work in the final garment. So to avoid wadders, I now make samples.

For the "Menswear Lace Dress", I actually made a couple...

This one is a lace sample....
This one is a thread sample...

Now I am actually thinking about muslining a jacket using real muslin...ohmygosh those internet sewists are working me over rough! *LOL* Seriously, I can actually see the benefit of sewing and fitting a pattern in muslin, altering it and taking the garment apart to use the muslin pieces as the actual pattern pieces...or maybe this is just another byproduct of reading the book, "The Collection"!

I haven't sewn much this weekend at all...sorry to disappoint, but I have just been so tired! And today I spent the afternoon at church watching my niece and nephew perform in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Program.

Hopefully, tomorrow since I will be home all is too cold for man or beast around here...maybe something will fall out of my sewing machine, into my closet and onto my blog! One can always hope!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

New sewing books have arrived

One of my Christmas presents was an Amazon gift card. Now I knew that I wanted books but I wanted to take my time to insure that I bought the perfect books for me! If you've been reading along, you know that I have a pretty good sewing library, consisting of both older sewing volumes as well as newer sewing issues. I have shared my list of "Ten Favorite Sewing Books" and some additional authors whose books I MUST have!

So it should come as no surprise that one of the first books on my list was, "Make Your Own Dress Patterns" by Adele P. Margolis. I was turned onto Adele by Colleen Jones. She gave me my first one, "Fashion Sewing for Everyone" and I just loved that book. I subsequently added the following titles to my library:

The Complete Book of Tailoring
How to Make Clothes that Fit & Flatter
The Dressmaking Book
The book that I purchased from Amazon, is published by Dover Publications. There is a note on the second page that says this is an unabridged republication of Make Your Own Patterns: A Primer in Patternmaking for Those Who Like to Sew, originally published by Doubleday & Company, Inc. Garden City, New York in 1985. So this is not an original but I am happy to get my hands on it anyway!

Due to an extraordinarily busy week, I haven't done much but skim the book. However, here is the introduction:

"For many sewers, creativity is often blocked by dependence on ready-made patterns. One has visualized something that cannot be found for all the looking in pattern books. There's such a time lag between the moment an exciting style triggers the imagination and that faraway day when a pattern for it is commercially available --if it ever is. Some sewers give up and settle for what they can get. Many begin apprehensively to take liberties with existing patterns. Timidly, they attempt to combine one pattern with another but are too fearful to make much progress. How they wish they knew more about patterns!

If you are one who has been scared to death to move a dart (you think it is put there by an act of Congress) or one who is awed by the seeming complexity of a pattern (the professionals in the field like to keep you that way) or one who doubts his or her ability to create ("I'm really not an artist") --relax! The basic principles of patternmaking are neither too mysterious, too numerous, nor too difficult for the home sewer. Anyone who can work through the labyrinthian directions for sewing that accompany the commercial pattern can surely learn the comparatively simple and clear rules for patternmaking. What's more, the rules work alike for skirts, pants, jackets, and coats and for men's, women's, and children's clothing. For the I-can't-draw-a-straight-line-myself crowd, there are plenty of helpful drafting tools.

Even for the sewer who prefers the timesaving use of commercial patterns to developing one's own, a knowledge of patternmaking is essential. Without it, one is slave to the bought pattern; with it, free to make such changes as one desires. Most important of all, understanding what you are working with will give an independence in design, construction, and yes even in fitting.

It is my hope that the simple nontechnical instructions for patternmaking contained in this book will open the door to a new world in which sewers may find creative excitement in executing their own designs."
Adele Pollock Margolis
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

There is just nothing else to say after that, except pick one up at or your neighborhood bookstore. It is presently selling on Amazon for $13.57 plus shipping. Here is a link to all of her books that Amazon is now featuring...Adele Margolis books on Amazon. Buy one, buy a few, you won't be disappointed!

The next book I received is "Chanel A Woman of Her Own" by Axel Madison. I bought this one because I just read The Collection by Gioia Diliberto. I wanted to read a biography about Chanel instead of a fictionalized account. This was one of the suggested readings in the bibliography for The Collection. Again, I've only skimmed the book, mostly looking at the pictures. I never realized that Coco was a very pretty woman. I am use to seeing her in the pictures taken during the 1950s and 1960s. There are quite a few of her as a very young woman and I can now see how she attracted so many men! *LOL*

So that's what's new on my bookshelves...I hope you will be inspired to pick up some of the Adele Margolis books for yourself and any biography of a fashion designer is always a good addition to your library, IMHO.

As for sewing, I haven't done any and I'm really tired today. It was a loooooooong work week. Later on, if I feel like it, I may do some more hand work on the "Menswear Lace" dress and I would like to finish it up this weekend. Otherwise, I am just winging it!

Enjoy your sewing journeys today and every day!

Monday, January 14, 2008

I played this weekend

This was a lazy weekend for me...I didn't really feel like "pushing" out garments. I actually wanted to take my time and explore an idea that I had...because I just don't know when to quit with a garment...or better still I just have to let an idea play all the way out before I can move on creatively.

So I was working on one more dress...and this dress is inspired by some old DKNY. I don't know if you fashionistas remember when Donna Karan burst onto the scene with her own label but she revolutionized woman's career wear with her menswear fabrics and lace. Lately that theme has been playing in heavy rotation in my mind...I loved it then but now I totally get it. See in a world where suits are a daily occurrance, you need something that subtly sets you apart. Nothing that makes you stand out and look like a freak but something that says you have style and aren't a clone just getting dressed to get through the day.

I explored that theme in the tank top that I made from Simplicity 3631 - but it wasn't a true replication of Donna Karan's statement. However, I had to put my little toe into that pool and see if it would work in MY corporate environment. This version worked for a business casual friday maybe because I haven't gotten around to making the coordinating skirt *note to self - that needs to be made up soon!*

But this particular idea is for a dress. My pleated front dress was so well received that I wanted to make it again with a change...after casting about in the vastness that is my mind *okay not really but it sounded kewl* I knew that a little DKNY was called for! So here is a peek at what I'm doing...

This dress has some other interesting points...a handpicked zipper...yeah, I'm getting into hand sewing big the lace and menswear plaid work in the pleat...some special touches on the sleeves...yeah, I'm really excited about this one. It's hanging on my closet door now so that I can see it when I wake up and each morning I am more thrilled with it.

It's not done yet because I'm enjoying the construction process so much but soon, very soon I will have something to share with you! In the meantime...a few questions....How influenced are you by fashion? Does it invade your everyday wardrobe or is it something that you wish you could wear? Have you figured out how to bring the looks of today into your closet? Or are you still purchasing fabric for the life you want to lead instead of the life you are presently leading?

I might not be around much this week...lots of work and after work commitments but I will be back with a fierceness this's a three day weekend you see and I've got sewing plans!

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Book Review: "The Collection"

I know that this book has made the circuit in blogland and that many people have reviewed it already...and it's been pretty much decided that this isn't "great literature". But the book tells a great story, is interesting and was a good bus read.

The thing that got me about the book was Isabelle Varlet's love of sewing. See I can just so relate to that! I loved the passages in the book that described her stitches, how she sewed a garment and her love of the fabric...ohmygosh...did this girl love fabric! Shannon & Marji ~ we could have been her sisters!

Then there were the passages that described the fittings at pose, the detail that was used to describe the know that I read those and then read them again they were so enticing.

But I guess the thing that I really liked about the book was that it made me want to sew. I am sure that is why I recently hand-stitched the lining was into "the ribbed dress" because that's what Varlet would have done. And it's made me want to slow down and enjoy the process even more...I am sure some of you are wondering at that last statement since it seems like I bum rush items when I'm on sewing vacay but do you realize how much preproduction work has gone into those garments? When I'm on sewing vacay, I am in the zone. I am ready and I am sewing! *LOL*

So it was great to go to the newsstand today and FINALLY pick up a copy of the latest issue of Threads and find articles on hand-stitching, a couture little black dress - complete with instructions on muslining it, underlining it and finishing it with a picked zipper...and Amber Eden's Editor's Letter on slow sewing...

"The Collection" will stay with me for if you haven't read it...get a copy! Read it and enjoy the sumptious passages about her sewing and the fabrics and the I said, it ain't great literature but it is a fulfilling sewing read!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Some Questions...

...and a few answers

Theresa (Lovely) wanted to know if the lining fabrics I'm using could be used as blouse fabrics ~ yes, definitely since they are 100% mediumweight polyester charmeuses. I don't really wear polyester charmeuse or prints that loud but they were $1.99 per yard and I thought they would make interesting lining fabrics. Also since they are medium weight they add some weight to my fabrics which make the finished garments a little that's why I'm using them as linings.

Cidell had some questions about my darts and the construction...
I am not finishing the edges of the darts because they are encased in the lining so there should be minimum fraying. And to make my comment about serging clearer ~ in my FFF days I would serge all of the garment pieces and then begin construction. However, now I sometimes do some construction and then serge finish the pieces. But I always serge/finish the pieces while they are still flat and not sewn to another piece. I have too much respect for my serger knives than to put them in the position of cutting through a piece of a sewn garment!

NancyK had some questions about the black patent leather piping...
I purchased it at Daytona Trimmings and after inserting it into the garment I was very careful when pressing the garment. I didn't use to much steam or a high setting on my iron. I don't know how this will work at the dry cleaners...I guess I am hoping for the best! *LOL* But since I got this idea from Dana Buchman's line, I am hoping that the dry cleaners I use in the city works with other designer gear and will at least know how to clean this!

Christina asked about my fabric usage amounts
You know this is a work in progress. I have no idea if I will stick with this format. However, I treat linings like notions...always keeping a stock on hand in various colors and prints so that I can sew without too much difficulty at all I didn't think to track or add it to my numbers.

I think I got all of the questions...if not, please ask them again and I will answer them. I have been at work for 4 days now and haven't thought about anything sewing! Isn't that terrible....but you know how it is when you come back from vacation, there is just so much waiting for you...and I have been extremely tired when I get home in the evenings. I don't even have any sewing plans for the weekend. The last jacket and lining are laying there forlornly on the cutting table (which is still relatively clean, btw). I guess I will get to them soon enough!

Hope you are enjoying your sewing journeys!

Monday, January 07, 2008

It's just so darn comfortable...

I am sitting here in my new dress...had to put it on so that the DD could take some pics and it hit me...that this dress is just so darn comfortable...ohmygosh, "Corporate Chic" and comfortable in the same sentence. I don't know if I'm gonna be able to stand myself! *LOL*

So here's some stats:

TNT dress pattern (I know y'all are so tired of hearing that one!)

100% wool flannel from
100% polyester charmeuse from Fabric Mart

22" zipper, rayon hem tape

Pretreating the fabric:
I prewashed the wool fabric using Shannon's technique...well not all of it because I did not have any Euculan available. So I skipped that step but I did everything else she said to do and I hung the fabric to dry overnight on the shower rod in the bathroom. A good pressing and a lot of steam and this piece was ready to go.

Now I don't usually wash wools because I am concerned about fulling and felting issues but in this instance because the wool was a tightly woven piece I decided to give it a try. I was very happy with the end results and will try this technique again with the Euculan next time!

Construction Details:
The front of the dress has a pleat ~ a newly added design feature that was not included in the original pattern. I have no magazine or catalogue inspiration for this dress. I was doodling and put the pleat on the front of the dress and thought why not. So I made it work.

To get the pleat I placed the dress front 3" from the center front of the fabric. I carefully measured to make sure that it was 3" from the top to the bottom of the piece. After I cut the pattern out, I cut small notches into the top of the pattern where the pattern piece ended. I did the same at the bottom.

After the darts were constructed, I made a box pleat on the backside of the garment, carefully folding each notched edge to the center of the pleat. I pressed one side of the pleat and then the other. Finally I sewed the pleat down across the neckline. I used a triple stitch and sewed the pleat flat...approximately 1/4 inch from the outer edge of the pleat. I stopped stitching

I definitely used directional sewing on this because I didn't want to get that ruffled edge you get when you sew the in two different directions.

The other change I made was to the sleeves. I split the pattern in half added a seam allowance and belled it out slightly at the end. Then I stitched the center seam leaving an opening of 3". I made a lining using the new sleeve shape and attached the lining to the hem ala the Nancy Ziemen method mentioned in an earlier post. To accommodate the opening, I sewed the hem and up the side of each opening up to about 1/2" from the point. Then I sewed the side seams. After turning the lining into the sleeve, I added a few catch stitches to the inside of the opening where I wasn't able to sew it all the way with the machine.

Add the lining to the dress, insert the sleeves, hand hem the dress fabric, machine stitch the lining and walah, new dress.

This one will have a jacket constructed from the same fabric since the original piece was a little over 4 yards and even after prewashing there was enough to get a jacket and dress from the fabric. But the great thing is that the dress can be worn alone or with another jacket while it is waiting for its counterpart to show up.

(okay why am I holding the fabric on the dress up this way!)

Since this is quite a long and involved post, do you mind if I answer questions tomorrow night? I've kept track (for once) and have answers for all of them, so until tomorrow!

I just may wear this dress to work tomorrow because it is just so darn comfortable!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

It was a three dress minimum!

As previously stated I had serious dress fever on this sewing vacay. And also as previously stated, I really want to wear more dresses with jackets and suits with skirts this fall/winter. I don't know how I'm going to accomplish that since I hate the cold but I am going to work on it! So here is the three pack...

I will apologize now because it is late and I am preparing to go back to work tomorrow so there are no photos of me wearing the dress. No construction information either...I will post those details tomorrow evening.

The grey dress does have a jacket (Vogue 7944). The fabric and lining for the jacket are cut out and laying in pieces on the cutting table. I started to work on the jacket but since I'm now into enjoying the journey, I didn't rush it. It will be finished when it is finished! *smile*

Tomorrow I promise pics of me wearing the new gray has a few special features...and I will share them with you then.

Darts, Darts, Darts

As I was working on my latest dress, I remembered a question that Cidell (Miss Cellies Pants) asked me when she was visiting and looking at the interior of one of my dresses and jacket. With her question resonating in my head, I thought that I would show you how I make darts...emphasis here on the "how I do it" part! 'Cause one of the beauties of sewing to me is that there are some right ways to sew and then there are some ways that just work for the individual operator!

Now that the disclaimer is out of the way...*LOL*...First I mark darts. My favorite method is to use a tracing wheel and tracing paper. Now if you haven't used tracing paper in awhile it is soooo much better than the stuff I used when I first learned to sew...y'know that wax stuff that took the "all powerful cleanser" to remove the markings from your garment! I use Dritz tracing paper probably because I can get it in the garment district at Steinlauf and Stoller, where I purchase most of my sewing notions.

After marking them, I usually sew my darts in before serge finishing the edges of my garment. I use to serge finish all the pieces (one big sergefest) before I started any construction on the garment but I have noticed that in the last year & a half that method has gone by the wayside. I think that got phased out right along with my fast, faster, fastest sewing methods.

I sew the dart by starting about a half inch in from the cut edge, sew a few stitches forward and then sew in reverse to the edge. At the edge I sew forward to the point. About a half inch from the point I shorten my stitch length to really small baby stitches (1.0 on my Janome 8000) to the end, this locks the stitches without having to backstitch. Do I always remember to do this - noooooo - *LOL* Hey I gotta be real! But most times I do...and when I don't it's because that little 7th grade girl who learned to sew kicks in and I backstitch! However, my preferred method is to shorten the stitch.

Next, cut the threads...yeah, I'm being real basic here! Then I use my 6" shears to cut the top of the dart open. Another disclaimer, I only use this technique when lining a garment. Why?? Because I want the dart to lie as flat as possible on the fashion fabric when I add the lining to it. Sometimes I add a dart to the lining and sometimes I cut the lining from the fashion fabric piece after the dart has already been sewn but in either instances, I want those two pieces of fabric loving up against each other not fighting against each other.

If I'm not lining the garment, the dart is pressed down against the fabric. I don't cut it open because I am not going to attempt to serge finish the edges and possibly cut into my fabric with the serger knife as I get closer to the point. I also don't like having the additional thread in the dart.

Here is the most important part of dart making to me ~ outside of careful marking ~ pressing it flat and open. I can not impress upon you enough that you should not press a dart open or to the side on a flat ironing board. Please, please, please use your ham or your seam roll...whichever pressing tool you own...though I prefer my ham because you can get a really good press on a curved seam on your ham! Also, do not forget to use your pressing cloth. I have ruined many a piece of fabric from being anxious and not covering the dart with the pressing cloth first. After it is pressed (not ironed) flat, I flip the piece over and press with the pressing cloth on the right side to prevent any dimpling that may occur at the dart point.

I realize that these are simple tips but I've found that sometimes reading someone else's method of doing a "simple" sewing technique has upped my game and taught me something new. And since I ascribe to the always get better idea of sewing, hopefully something that I've shared with you about how I sew darts, will help you sew better darts too!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Four down and one more to go

Yeap, one more pair of lined black wool crepe pants are finished. One more UFO from last year done...and maybe, just maybe this year I might end up with five pairs of black pants. I mean I'm close...I'm so close that I can actually feel it...*LOL* These pants will work with quite a few jackets as well as twinsets in my wardrobe so I am thrilled that they are done.

I'm going to start on my last project for the weekend ~ another dress! I know, I know but this sewing vacay I just had dress fever. The weather is cooperating next week - it will be in the 40's and 50's all week so it will make dress wearing that much easier. Besides I have pretty much decided that I like wearing dresses and suits with skirts so much better than pantsuits so I am going to try and wear them more. We shall see if the weather beats back my desire.

Anyway, here is a pic of the fabric and lining that I am using for the next version of my TNT dress.

Here is the road map for this garment.

Finally some answers to a few questions...

Julie asked from where I got the Nancy Zieman technique? Sorry, I should have mentioned the book title when I posted about the technique. It's from her book, "The Busy Woman's Sewing Book" published in 1988. I reviewed the book in August 2008. You can read the review, here.

Also, someone else asked about the size of my closet awhile ago. I'm sorry that I'm just replying to you, however, my closet is normal size. One of those regular width apartment size closets with a long bar and a shelf above it. Clothing is stored by category, all pants together, all skirts, dresses, etc. All of my sweaters, tank tops, turtlenecks, etc. are stored on the shelf. I guess it would seem as if my closet should be packed but I am a huge believer in closet clean outs. I do one at the start of every season and am pretty ruthless about it. If I don't keep rotating things out there will be no space for the new things that I want to make!

I'm off to sew...just wanted to give you an update on how my sewing vacay is progressing!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Obligation beat out Inspiration

I guess you can tell by the title that I decided to finish up one of my leftover garments from 2007. These are not my original sewing vacay plans. Originally I was going to immerse myself in two really epic projects but since I haven't sewn in three weeks, I realized that I wanted to accomplish some quick things to have new pieces to wear to work next week.

Since I still have a three day weekend later this month, I think the first planned epic project can be accomplished during that weekend. So as of now this is how my vacay sewing is flowing...

The Simplicity 3631 Dress:

I love the versatility of this jumper/dress in the Simplicity 3631 pattern. The tan tropical wool version made previously works well in my work wardrobe so I have plans to make it in other colors and fabrications. The second version of this jumper/dress is made from black wool crepe.

Last night I reluctantly tried on the dress shell thinking that I still had some alterations to make to it before I could add the lining. However, I was pleasantly surprised when I put the dress on. It seems that somewhere in there I did the necessary changes and the dress fits so it's ready for the next steps. Taking all of that into account, I went ahead and finished it up.

This black wool crepe version will be a hard working piece in my wardrobe that will coordinate with quite a few of the jackets I've recently made. The major difference between this piece, I mean besides color and fabrication, is that I embellished the lowered waistline seam with a black patent leather piping. I don't want each version of this dress to be exactly the same - just in a different color - so each future adaptation will probably have something "creative" done to it to distinguish it from the original.

Here's this one's stats:
100% black wool crepe from Fabric Mart

Black ambience

22" zipper, black patent leather piping, rayon hem tape.

Next up - the TNT black wool crepe pants that have been cut out and patiently waiting their turn to be constructed. More pictures can be found in my Flickr album.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

First Project of 2008

I guess starting out the year using a TNT dress pattern definitely signifies how my sewing is going to progress this year...because that's just what I did! This dress came into being after one of my latest fabric purchases arrived from Fabric Mart.

This fabric:

And this jumper/dress idea:

Somehow became this:

2.5 yards of midnight blue & black crepe wool, rayon and cotton blend

2.5 yards of printed polyester charmeuse - also from Fabric Mart

22" zipper
2 yards of rayon hem tape

I made this dress using my TNT dress pattern consisting of some of the pieces from a sleeveless dress that I made last summer and some of the pieces from the Chanel dress. When I'm sewing from an idea, I am basically free-styling especially since each incarnation is new and uncharted territory. I don't know if I thought the construction through well-enough with this dress or if it was just a case of the unpredictability of actual construction, but I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing during the process to make this dress work.

I used the v-neckline and overlapping front bodice pieces for this dress. The first dresses that I made using these bodice fronts were loosely fitted which was fine for casual summer dressing but not what I wanted for this look. So my first alteration was to take two small tucks in the bodice piece, of about 1/4 inch so that the top would lay closer to my chest wall.

The back bodice piece was also loose on the summer dresses so I used the back yoke piece and back bodice piece from the Chanel dress for this version. Using these pieces would insure that the back hugged my neck and upper back.

Piping was added to the neckline from the lining fabric. This came about quite by accident. After I had inserted the lining but before it was pressed into place, it overlapped the front and it gave a really plain bodice front a little zip. I liked it so I pressed it down like that and then stitched it flat.

The bodice and skirt pieces were cut with the stripes running vertically while the waistband was cut with the stripes running horizontally. Again this was a design detail added to give the dress interest. However, during the first fitting, I noticed that it actually added a slimming effect to the dress.

I used the sleeves from the Chanel dress for this version...a shorter sleeve with a band added. Originally the band's fabric was going to be cut horizontally but somewhere in the cutting process I neglected to do that! *smile* However, I did add a piece of flat piping (slightly larger than what was used in the bodice) to the sleeves before adding the band to the bottom of the sleeve.

The sleeves were lined with the polyester charmeuse using a lining method that I learned from Nancy Zieman of Nancy's Notions. The lining and fashion fabric were sewn together at the hemline. Then the side seam was sewn and the lining was flipped inside. I just had to insure that none of the lining fabric was hanging from the bottom of the sleeve...careful pressing and pulling the lining up a little solved this challenge.

Lining the dress:
Most of my hand stitching occurred during the lining insertion. After adding the lining to the bodice pieces I had to figure out a way to add the band and skirt lining pieces to the dress. I ended up hand stitching the entire skirt lining into the dress at the waistline and at the zipper tape. To make sure that the dress would not fall apart - hey I haven't hand stitched an entire lining in quite some time! - I let it hang for a day. When I woke up in the morning and it was still together I felt it was safe to proceed!

Extra Details:
The dress has side slits instead of a center back slit. Just doing something a little different so that each version of the dress doesn't look the same.

I had a real challenge with the bodice fronts meeting and pulling. After I stitched the two pieces together, I noticed some serious pulling happening only on one side. The stitches were ripped out and I finally decided to just tack the fronts together in key places. I'm not sure that I solved the problem, I just "made it work!"

There are three things that I love about this dress...

1. It has some weight to it...meaning that I won't be cold in it. The wool blend fabric is a medium weight fabric and then the polyester charmeuse lining adds to the heft of the dress.

2. I love how the polyester charmeuse lining feels in this dress. It's like slipping into a nightgown. I bought three of those polyester fabrics from Fabric Mart and now think I should have bought one of each pattern especially since they were only $1.99 per yard.

3. This dress as photographed with pearls will be so appropriate in my workplace. It has that "Corporate Chicness" that I am striving to attain in my work gear and will be perfect in any work situation. Plus I'm not dialing up the same ole, same ole that my peers are wearing.

So that is my first project of 2008, you can see more pictures of the construction process in my Flickr photo album. I have two unfinished garments from 2007 that I really should work on but honestly I don't know if I will. I haven't decided whether to let inspiration move me for my next piece or obligation. Guess that will be tomorrow's post!


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