Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Guest Host at LindseyT Sews Again...

So the reason there was no post on my blog this weekend...and the lame post about my twinset appears below is because LindseyT asked me to write a guest post for her blog. I have to admit that since it was appearing on a sister blog I spent a lot of time on it...didn't want to embarass her or myself! *LOL*

It is part of a series on "Shopping in the Garment District"...LindseyT. wrote the first installment, I wrote the second and Ann of Gorgeous Things has written the final part. So if you're interested in three insiders opinions of the garment district - read all about it here!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Some more basics...


Plus this...

Equals this...

I found this pattern in one of Out of the Ashes offerings and promptly bought it! I liked the idea of a mock neck turtleneck...though I think I am going to have to alter this so that it's just a little higher in the front...and it still needs the gray buttons added...but for a wearable muslin...it's not bad!

It has a zipper in the back. Since I didn't have an invisible one in the right length I inserted it by hand. I like this effect and will probably use it again...

However, the next version of this will definitely have a higher front neckline...anyway, this is what I worked on...I wasn't that motivated to sew...it was a rainy weekend and all I wanted to do was curl up in bed with a good book.

More later...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Sleeve Bicep Alterations

If you've noticed, I don't write many posts on pattern alterations and there are several reasons for this:

1. I honestly believe that sewists especially beginners should be taught the proper way of constructing garments! I know that I'm shortcutting and changing things. But that's because I already KNOW and HAVE a well built foundation...so I know when I can and can't push the boundaries of construction techniques.

2. I don't think I'm a great teacher...before you start to complain...let me explain! I believe that a great teacher can share a technique in such a way that someone can understand it at a very basic level. That ain't me...I wish, but it ain't. Now can I inspire? Yes! Can I encourage? Yes! And can I enable? Yes, with the best of them! *LOL* But teaching takes a special gift that I don't believe I possess...

So it is with much reluctance, hesitancy and many, many disclaimers that I am posting how I make alterations to sleeve patterns to fit my bodacious biceps...shew, that was a long winded introduction! *LOL*

First - measurements:

I measure my bodacious biceps at their fullest point...so skimp on this measurement or be untruthful if you want but you risk having very ill-fitting sleeves if you don't take correct measurements. Personally, I don't care what the number is on the tape measure, what I care most about is the fact that a well-fitted garment actually makes you appear thinner and better looking than something you are stuffing yourself into.

Second - Ease:

The Perfect Fit in the Singer Sewing Series defines ease as, "extra room designed into a pattern or garment for comfort and style. The amount of ease varies from one fashion style to another and is often the key to how the fashion fits. Ease can be adjusted, but avoid over-fitting by removing too much ease."

To me the most important point of making a sleeve alteration is determining adequate ease before cutting up your pattern. For this you need to try on a sleeve that works for you...that is attractive to your figure type and flatters your arms. From the sleeve you tried on, determine how much ease you need/like. Then take the measurement of your biceps, add the amount of ease you want plus seam allowances...this is the final figure you need for determining how many inches to add to the pattern.

Now I use two totally different alterations for long and short sleeves...so I will deal with short sleeves first.

This picture illustrates the fact that I slice the pattern from 1/2" from the top of the sleeve cap through to the hem. I then add the additional inches determined by my formula above. The last step is to true up the hem, because the sides of the sleeve will be higher than the bottom.

By slashing and spreading you do not change the width of the sleeve cap - so it should fit into the armscye without any problems...well that is if the original sleeve cap and armsyce are drafted well...but we're not going there today! *smile* To me this is the easier of the two alterations and it allows me to add enough space to the bicep area and to lengthen my short sleeve to a flattering length for my arms.

Now for long sleeves...

To get my biceps to fit into a long sleeve I have gone through a few gyrations. I have tried the method used by Palmer and Pletsch. I have tried Cynthia Guffeys' method...all with varied measures of success. I finally settled on adding a seam to the top of the sleeve because it allows me to add at the biceps in the simpliest method possible. It also gives me quite a few opportunities for embellishments - i.e., topstitching or inserting piping...and it's become a kind of trademark of my garments.

How do I make this alteration?

**First I mark the increase at the bicep area (again taken from the formula mentioned above but divided in half).

**Then I add a 5/8" seam allowance mark to the sleeve cap and another mark at the sleeve hem.

**Two more marks are added - one between the sleeve cap and the bicep easing from the 5/8" seam allowance to the bicep allowance. And the second mark is made after the bicep mark and the sleeve hem, easing from the bicep into the sleeve hem. I use a ruler to make this line.

**I then cut out and sew together the 4 sleeve pieces making two separate sleeves.

Okay, do you have any questions? The blog is now open to questions, comments, clarifications, and other methods and/or techniques for enlarging bicep measurements.

Please feel free to ask questions, if I haven't been clear on anything in this post. Or feel free to correct something that I am advocating if you truly think it's wrong...but I do add the codacil that it's working for me so I'm not about to change...but it if will help someone else, let's add it to the conversation.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It's Here...

Yes, I got the call at 8:37 a.m....ummm, I had to wake my daughter to get dressed because the delivery men were coming with my new sofa in 10 minutes!

I spent a very restless day at work...it didn't help that most of the bankers were off-site, so it was a little quiet...and I was a little anxious to get home!

After much huffing and puffing to get the rug down straight...it's been sitting here for over a month waiting for the couch to be purchased and delivered...then moving some stuff around for a photo op...

Here it is so far...me sitting happily upon my new sofa and rug! There are still lamps, another bookcase, two comfy chairs and a coffee table to go in the room before it's done...but I wanted the major pieces (the sofa and the rug) in before I went off and got the coordinating pieces.

So tell me...do you think it's going to look like a big comfy library-type room? Cause that's what I'm aiming for...to be surrounded by the things I love...sewing machines, fabric and books!

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Creative Journey

If you've been following along, you will see that this year I've been trying to use more new/unused patterns. I mean I do buy them just as frequently as everyone else and I do have a pretty extensive collection...from the "vintage" ones I'm now acquiring to some that I've had since the 80s as well as the ones I've purchased through the 90s until now.

As I was finishing up Vogue 7994, I realized why I repeat patterns over and over again. I sew TNT's because I NEED to finesse the details that I miss in the original or first go round. I know that some people are perfectionists when they sew...everything has to be sewn and fitted correctly before the garment is declared finished. Well, that's not me! I like making the journey again and again...discovering new things...taking new paths...varying the methods used and generally just working the heck out of a pattern.

I understand that some people get bored with a pattern...not me! While I'm working on a garment, my mind is working overtime coming up with at least 2 and sometimes quite a few more versions that I want to construct...well, that is unless I hate the pattern! And yes, that has happened a few times...just not lately!

So even though the brown doubleknit dress works and looks good...there are some "different" things that I NEED to do to it to improve it...some are fabric related...some involve embellishment...and there is definitely a construction technique or two that needs to be improved.

All of this musing, brings me to my question of the day..."Do you sew from TNT Patterns and take the creative journey?" If you do, what makes you want to continue the journey? And if not, why not? Is it boredom? Or can you only sew one version of any pattern? What? Share, cause I need to know!

Me...I'm going to continue the creative journey with Vogue 7994. You will see at least two more versions showing up soon...changes in fabric, changes in embellishment and changes in style...I have ideas running through my mind...I just need time!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vogue 7994 - Brown really is the new black!

Well it's finished...

And once I added accessories to it, I liked it a whole lot better...

So here's some stats:

Vogue 7994 - Close fitting (at bust) below mid-knee, A-line dress has princess seams, raised neckline at back, sleeves and back zipper closure.

Fabric Used:
A midweight doubleknit purchased from Fabric Mart

22" invisible zipper

Pattern Alterations:
As I stated before, I didn't really have to do as many alterations to the pattern as I thought I would...some very simple ones and the princess lines really made this dress pattern a dream to work with...

~I added 1/2" to the all of the pattern pieces at the seam line except for the back piece where I added a full inch to the center back seam.

~To handle my bicep issues, I cut the sleeve pattern in half and added 5/8" seam allowances as well as 2" to the bicep area gradually easing this amount into the top and bottom of the sleeve

~Most of the alterations were made to the front pieces because that's where I needed the ease to cover my abdomen

And that's about it...simple alterations on a classically beautiful dress.

Construction Techniques:
~Since I added a seam to the sleeve, I omitted the v-insert and made the sleeves a little shorter. I also added three rows of topstitching to the sleeve hem to give it a little detail.

~Also since it was a knit, I added two rows of topstitching to the dress hem.

~The original neckline was just a little too low for a work dress, so I sewed the v-neckline about 1.5" higher.

What I would do differently next time?

~Add some more length to the hemline...I am using only 1/2" turnup and I would have liked at least a full inch for the hem.

~Change my shoulder width before putting the dress together...I ended up changing that at the end and it would be a much more effective change if I handled it at the princess seams instead of at the end of the armhole.

Will I make it again?

Of course! I already have some black wool crepe and a beautiful cadet blue wool crepe earmarked from the collection for more dresses. I will add lining to these because this is the perfect work dress. Lots of style, no fiddle factor and sophisticated and polished...something I can wear without a jacket and still look like me!

I have to admit that after I inserted the sleeves the first time and before I added accessories, I did lose my confidence in the dress. However, after adding hair & make-up and accessories, I can see the attractiveness of the dress again!

So next up...the cardigan and twinset from the "Grayed Affair" collection.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

It's Saturday...

...and no I haven't fallen off the face of the earth! *LOL* Just with life things happening and my job and the economic crisis that has befallen Wall Street this week...haven't thought much about sewing...I am among the lucky few STILL working in the financial industry this week...*sigh*

So today, I am going to alter my dress (Vogue 7994) and hopefully have pictures of the finished garment to share later on...I have a refashioned item I also want to work on this weekend and that will probably be it...cause my sofa is scheduled to be delivered next week so the living room needs to be cleaned out...

More later...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

And Oprah said...

Okay, Oprah didn't really say it...it's just a list that's in this month's O Magazine about plus size women. The article is called, "You Don't Have to be Thin to be gorgeous...The knockout clothes that prove it!" And this is Adam's (the Stylist) list:

1. Dress for the size you are
Not what you want to be, or once were! Work with what you have! Own IT!
(Amen to that!!!)

2. Dress from the inside out
A well-fitting bra and shapewear will camouflage all lumps and bumps!
(People do not be afraid of the undergarments...no one wants to walk behind you watching stuff jiggling...)

3. Clothes should skim your body
not cling to it like sausage casing! Think high-waist, wide trousers, and A-line or flared skirts
(Can I get a Hallelujah!!!)

4. Don't cover your curves!
Big clothes on big bodies only make you look bigger.

5. Skirts should end
Just before or under the kneecap. Your legs will look longer
(Don't be afraid of a little leg action!)

6. Shorter, fitted jackets
will also flatter your legs and waist.
(C'mon testify somebody!)

7. Avoid elasticized waistbands.
They might be comfortable, but they add bulk to your midsection.
(To this I respectfully disagree...and that's why I sew!)

8. Keep necklines open.
A deep v- or scoop neck lengthens your neck.
(And shows 'em what you got! There are women out there paying good money for what God gave us naturally! *LOL*)

9. A dress with a belt
will cinch you in, focusing attention on your smaller waist.
(Okay I didn't use to believe this one but a picture is worth a thousand words!)

10. Wide feet need to be counterbalanced
with wide heels. A thinner heel only draws attention to your wider foot
(Again I respectfully disagree...definitely make sure that you are using a wider size...don't squeeze into the mediums...but you can wear a thin heel and a pointy toe...they go a long way towards making you feel sexy and womanly...I'm just saying!)

I think this is a really great list and I can guarantee that if you embrace some of the suggestions on this list, my plus size sisters, you will be amazed at how great you look!!!! BTW, this list is on Page 136 of the October 2008 issue of O Magazine!

And finally, please no comments about Oprah and the Alaska Woman...not only are we both sistahs but we are sistahs that support Obama and I believe she can do whatever she wants on her show, that's why its called "The O-P-R-A-H Show!!!!"

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vogue 7994 Update

First let me say that I love this dress...and I love the princess seaming and how it shapes the dress and how it makes me look slim...not skinny...not unlike myself...it just slims my bodaciousness!

So as of last night I had the dress all put together...no hems on the sleeves or the bottom of the dress...and the back facing wasn't in. Tried it on and WTH was up with the shoulder seams and the sleeves? Now, I tried the dress on prior to putting in the sleeves and didn't see any issues then...but there are issues now...so I will need to unpick some seams and fix the shoulder seams and the sleeves...

Now, I know that I've confessed that I don't do great invisible zippers...but I've made it a goal to put one in every item I'm making lately so that I will become more proficient. This is the best one I've done so far...

Not 100% perfect but enough to encourage me to keep on keepin' on! *LOL* And the person who looked at my zipper and told me what to do with them...my daughter! Yeap...the child told me I was missing a step...told me what to do and then proofed my work! *LOL* I felt so proud!!!

I also changed the sleeve a bit...I needed more room in the bicep so I added a seam to the sleeve and space to my biceps which affects the v-opening in the hem...still working on how to finish those edges cleanly...

Finally the neckline on this dress was really low...as in a great date dress but not a great work dress...so I raised the neckline seam another inch...

As I said before, I really like this dress and have already pulled out some black wool crepe and a cadet blue wool crepe to make two more for work. I will change the sleeves up a little, add a lining to the wool crepe versions and add another inch to the body of the dress so that I will have a more substantial hem...because on this version I am only going to be able to turn up a 1/2".

I will have final pictures to share of the dress this weekend! All in all though it's a wonderful dress and if you have this pattern, I encourage you to take it out and use it! And if you don't have it and you're looking for a great dress to make that will make you look slim, feminine and well put together...this is your dress!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Out of the Ashes - COUPON CODE!!!

Hey everyone, I received this message from Sheila today:

"Hi Carolyn - thank you once again for your order! I also have noticed a number of your visitors have visited my site and purchased patterns and I thank you for the referrals. Would love to offer you and your readers a 10% discount on all purchases. Just use the coupon code SEWFAN during checkout. Feel free to let them all know!"

First ~ ignore the part about another order...ummm, I wasn't going to share that with y'all - LOL!

Second ~ thank you all for going to Out of the Ashes and purchasing from Sheila! I love her site and her goods, well I guess so since I just bought three more patterns!

Third ~ please use the coupon she provided...it is so wonderful of her to do so! And share with me what you bought from her...I love knowing what other vintage patterns you guys are purchasing!!!

That's it for now! I'm still working on the dress...hopefully photos soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

It started with a pair of shoes...

So just an update...I'm taking a break...but this is what I'm working on and hope to share with you before the weekend is over!

This pattern:

Plus an awesome brown double knit that I bought from Fabric Mart earlier this year are coming together to make an amazing work dress! Yes, I'm sewing another dress...well its that time of the year...its still warm with gentle breezes blowing...and the hem of my dress will float gently against my stockings as I'm strolling down 57th Street in NYC...wearing these wonderful k*cka*s shoes! *LOL*

Yeah, the shoes inspired the dress! More later!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Fabric Scraps

Have you ever worked with a piece of fabric that you just loved? I mean a piece of fabric that has such a wonderful hand that your scissors sliced through with ease? A piece that just felt so luscious in your hands? And it sewed like a dream?

Well I cut a piece like that this past weekend. It was so very soft and so very luscious that I had a hard time parting with the scraps.

And there were only scraps left after cutting out the garment...no real usable pieces that I could hold onto and dream about...so I let them sit on the cutting table in a pile until I finished making the garment. 'Cause the fabric was so special that I just didn't want to let it go...regretfully, I finally did put those precious scraps in the trash.

So has this ever happened to you? Have you ever been tempted to hold onto some precious scraps because the fabric was so dear?

Today's Parting Shot:
Since it feels like early fall here in the NY/NJ area, I wore the argyle vest today...however, I definitely hemmed this to wear with pants and may have to revisit the vest's hem to make it more versatile...

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Blog Awards

I was recently awarded the Premio al esfuerzo personal blog award and the Brilliant Weblog Premio Award 2008 (again) by Summerset. I so appreciate both of these awards. I know I shouldn't care about who comes and reads my ramblings but it is heartwarming to know that others check in on a daily basis to see what I'm up to...and I truly appreciate each and every one of those visits.

So first let me thank all of the people who visit my blog, stop and write a comment or send me an email or phone me to tell me what I did wrong (Marji! *LOL*) or recommend my blog to someone else to read. I have met some amazing women through the internet and developed some really good friendships all because of our shared passion for and mutual love of stitching something together.

When Jamie awarded me the Brilliant Weblog Premio Award a couple of weeks ago, I fudged it by acknowledging it but not following the rest of the rules. I guess now I have to ante up! *smile* I just hate naming only five blogs because I don't want anyone to feel as if their blog isn't special to me...so I decided to nominate the five that I go to each and every day for inspiration. Now of those, Summerset, Marji and Cidell have already been nominated...so my next visits are to the women listed below, and I nominate them for both awards:

1. Lower your pressor foot
Kristy is pregnant and sewing the most amazing maternity wardrobe. Every day I surf in to see if something new is up! If you haven't been to her site, please go, she is AMAZING!

2. Sewing in the City
I love her vintage styling and that she works in NYC like me!

3. Sheila Crochetz, Threadz & Knitz
Okay besides the great music that plays on her blog, I love how she is taking a wonderful new adventure with sewing...taught herself to knit and crochetz like you wouldn't believe!

4. Couture et Tricot
Because I want to sew like Tany when I grow up! *smile* Seriously, Tany can sew and makes the most amazing garments. I always learn something new when I go to her site!

5. Lindsey T Sews Again
Lindsey does the best posts about our beloved NYC garment district complete with pictures that makes everyone want to shop in NYC! Plus I am loving the journey she's taking with her renewed interest in sewing!

6. Life Happens be Positive
I love Toy's adventure with knits...and colors...and just general enthusiasm!

Please know that if I didn't mention your blog it doesn't mean that I'm not reading and enjoying it. And some of y'all just need to post more often so that I can get an afternoon fix, if you know what I mean! *smile*

Here are the rules.

Rules 4 and 5 apply only to the second award: The rules for these award - prize are as follows:

1. Select 6 bloggers to whom you would like to give this award- prize (definitely not easy to choose - only 6)

2. Put the award - prize on your blog and indicate who gave it to you by identifying her/his blog;

3. Paste these rules on your blog;

4. Write 6 of your most important values and 6 negative points you condemn.

Important Values:
Loyalty, Positiveness, Honesty, Sharing, Commitment, Hardworking

Negative Traits:
Dishonesty, Laziness, Selfishness, Lying, Stealing, Hatred

5. Inform the 6 recipients by leaving a comment on their blog.

And thanks again Summerset and Jamie for the nominations...it means so much to be acknowledged by your peers!

Monday, September 08, 2008

More Vintage Patterns

I've become a stalker...yeah, I'm admitting it...I have left eBay behind and I've moved onto actual vintage pattern sites...before noon every Monday through Friday...I go to two spots without fail ~ Lanetz Living and Out of the Ashes. I love both of these sites because they offer free shipping on 3 or more patterns and because both have great plus size sections.

My friend, Julie-Ann, asked how I've managed to find such great plus size patterns...both of these sites are prime reasons why...along with a few lucky winning auctions on eBay. But after a few months of immersing myself in "vintage" patterns (and different people and collectors have different ideas of what vintage is!), I have defined a style of pattern and a couple of things I desire...

60's Mod, Jackie Kennedy retro, dresses and suits with lots of details in plus sizes and some half sizes...I primarily look for Simplicity and Vogue patterns. These pattern companies seem to have embodied the looks and translated them best to me.

I have also found that if I have an idea of what I am looking for, I am not easily distracted by how much there is out there. Another consideration is price...I like cheap priced patterns but I am willing to pay for what I want...however, I have set a limit of $25 if I really want something and $10 for something I'm interested in.

This gives me plenty of room to play and has resulted in some very interesting finds...these are the latest:

Pattern Description:
One piece dress and scarfSlim skirt joins bodice at waistline. Buttoned front closing below front neckline. Lap seamed detail at side front of bodice and skirt. Elbow length, short sleeves and sleeveless. Tubular scarf. Novelty or self belt...size 42...no copyright date.

Pattern Description:
One Piece Dress Sheath dress with notched collar with or without top stitched trimming has optional modesty. Below elbow length sleeves and short sleeves with cuffs. Size 42...no copyright date.

Pattern Description:
Half size and women's dress and jacket. Semi-fitted, a-line dress has princess seaming, oval neckline with front slit, short sleeves and self-side belts with button trim. Semi-fitted jacket has princess seaming, rolled notched collar, patch pockets and short or waist length sleeves...size 40...no copyright date

However, I have to tell you that I am very anxious to actually sew up some of these patterns. I think they will really kick my work wardrobe up a notch and give me the detailing and styling that is so lacking in plus size patterns today! I am really tired of the sacks, the ill-fitting, unstylish items that the pattern companies are passing off for plus size women. Short of learning pattern drafting, I am taking back my fashion destiny by using this catalog of "vintage" patterns that I have amassed as well as some of the new Burda magazine dresses for plus size women.

On a final note...I've moved onto late summer/early fall transistional sewing...dresses and suits will figure predominately in this sewing...so stay tuned for a little vintage, a little Burda and a whole lotta plus size style!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Butterick See & Sew 5399

...or my interpretation of this Michael Kors Dress from his Spring/Summer '08 Collection:

And on me:

I've had this picture hanging on my bulletin board since early spring - always meaning to interpret it. I thought that I would have gotten to it for spring/summer but there were so many other things vying for my attention that I am just now getting around to making it...and in tran-seasonal fabrics for early fall.

When I first saw the dress, I remembered that I had this pattern in my collection. Back in the mid-90s I made several dresses like this...different fabric bodice and skirt, with a matching jacket or a style similar to this pattern. So I just had to decide which fabrics to use to make the dress. Did I want to make a splashy colorful version or did I want to adapt the look for corporate wear? Going with the black/gray/black theme makes the dress corporate wear but sophisticated and different from what others will be wearing.

Pattern Description:
Semi-fitted, slightly tapered dress, mid-knee, has contrast middle/lower sections, back zipper/slit and above elbow elbows...copyright 1998...Out-of-Print (OOP).

The bodice is from a sueded silk remnant
The center is from a lightweight twill type of gray wool crepe
The bottom is from a lightweight black wool crepe

*All of the pieces of fabric are from the collection ~ Yeah!

Lining, 22" zipper, rayon hem tape

Pattern Alterations:
~I made my usual alteration to the sleeve bicep - slashing and spreading and adding 2" to the body of the sleeve to fit my bodacious biceps.

~I added 1" to the center front of all the pieces - doing a pivot and slide for the front top piece.

And that was all - this pattern fit with a small amount of assistance right out of the envelope.

Construction Techniques:
~I added a lining to the dress and omitted the facings that were included in the pattern. I also did the lining in two pieces - using a lighter colored lining for the white bodice and a darker shade for the body.

~I added black topstitching to the neckline and sleeves to bring some of the color to the top of the garment.

The topstitching was accomplished by using the saddle stitch on my sewing machine.

~Otherwise the only other consideration was to make sure that the side seams matched. Again this pattern went together smoothly and without any problem. I just made sure that I sewed both sides using directional stitching - sewing from the bottom of the dress to the top and making sure the side seams were pinned well before sewing.

I love the gradiation effect - light to dark. It is a perfect work dress, yet I believe it still is me! And even though its not an exact replica of the Michael Kors dress...I think that I have interpreted the spirit of the design! But mostly I can't believe that I used a pattern from 1998 to achieve this look!

Friday, September 05, 2008

What's Up with Burda?

So I stop by the newsstand on the way to the subway hoping that the September BWOF is in stock...and joy amongst joy it is! I've been so busy the last few weeks that I haven't had a chance to catch the preview of the issue...so boy am I surprised by the plus size selection...I mean I can usually find something that peaks my interest and make me sit up and take notice...then find a Big 4 pattern to make it work, *LOL*, but this issue is full of amazing plus size garments that I want to sew NOW...from the magazine!

But what is UP with Burda and the dresses for plus size women!?! Can I give a whoo-hoo and a high five to them for this lovely number in the September issue:

I was already doing the unthinkable and contemplating making a dress from the Burda Plus Size Magazine...cause the wonderful little number below is causing me to lose sleep...and you know it's bad when you've already worked the sewing sequence out in your head! *LOL*

Isn't that just the kewlest dress...and in a plus size pattern! Be still my beating heart!!!

Yeah, I'm really feeling the Burda love...and I will have to make up one of these beauties and soon! So can you believe, this month's issues of Burda World of Fashion and Burda Plus have moved from fashion magazines to sewing magazines...I think I felt the earth shift! rotflol!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

How Many Steps?

I had quite a number of titles for this post...but ultimately rejected them for this one because the question I wanted to pose to you, was/is, "How Many Steps Does it Take for You to Complete a Garment?" In this particular case, how many steps did it take for me to make a simple skirt...this skirt:

Now I'm referring to construction steps...the things or procedures you do once you've chosen the pattern and the fabric. I am referring to the decisions you start to make when you lay that piece of fabric onto the cutting table and begin the construction process. Have you ever really thought about all of the steps you take/make from the cutting table to actually wearing the garment?

Well I thought about it today...probably because I took what should have been a very simple to make skirt and as usual turned it into a production. I am beginning to think that I can no longer sew "fast & easy" but that everything must have the best construction techniques I know thrown into it. I use to brag that I could make a simple skirt in 60 minutes/1 hour...add some lining to it and I only needed 30 minutes more. I don't think I could do that now, if my life depended upon it! *LOL*

So steps - lets start with the fabric:

Both pieces are from Metro Textiles - when Kashi handed me the black eyelet, he originally paired it with something shimmery and soft...however, I saw the cotton paisley print and KNEW that I had something that was more me. I knew that I wanted an a-line skirt with this print under it...at first I thought that the two skirts would just free float and be connected at the waistline. I also thought that I would use my TNT four gore skirt to accomplish that...but something happened between the purchase to the time the fabric landed on the cutting table:

I decided to cut this as an on-grain skirt with only side seams. So I laid both pieces of fabric down on the fold and cut them out together. I hemmed and hawwed over whether they would be separate skirts or one piece...finally the fabric decided that it liked being together so after cutting them out, I serged the two pieces together. This definitely made it easier to work with...no worrying about how to handle the seams of the eyelet fabric.

Next I sewed the side seams up thinking that I would make my regular elastic waist skirt...but it was late...like 1:30 in the morning and I decided to call it a night and start again in the morning. I went to sleep with that skirt on my mind and when I woke up this morning, I had dreamt of a skirt with darts and a lapped side zipper...not one with an elastic waist!

So this morning I added darts to the front and the back of the skirt - using my TNT straight skirt's dart placement to get the darts on the skirt correctly. Up next was the lapped zipper, after I ripped out half of the side seam, I had to remember how to put in a lapped zipper...it's been a minute, okay? *LOL*

Using the DVD, "Easy Zippers" by the Islander team, I quickly reviewed how to insert a lapped zipper but I also remembered a few things (ah, it's coming back to me now!) that I liked to do to insure the best insertion:

1. I put a piece of fusible web in the center of the lapped piece to hold it together and add firmness to it - the video tells you to fuse the seamlines, so I guess it's the same principle. I've sometimes had a problem with the lapped area not catching and flopping open. The fusible web makes sure that I am working with one solid piece...

2. The second thing I always do is to hand baste the lapped piece of the zipper down. It insures that I catch the entire lapped piece and it gives me a guideline to machine stitch the zipper down. From the pic, you can see that I used a burnt orange thread for the hand basting so that I was sure to see it when I took it to my sewing machine.

Darts, lapped zipper, and several fittings later, I had to make a decision about waistband or no waistband? More steps...*sigh* I went with no waistband but needed to add a waistband facing to finish off the top of the skirt. Okay, I'm NOT cutting waistband pieces at this point...so I went looking for some bias binding that would work for the facing. I found a striped cotton blend from the collection and used that:

Let's see now that means measuring the bias binding, serging one end so that it will be finished inside the garment, sewing it down, turning and pressing (clapper photo above), edge stitching it flat and hand basting it to the side seams and darts...ummm, how many more steps did I just add!?!?!

I try the skirt on...it fits! But I don't like the length. I dig around in the closet for a tank top and a sweater to try it on with...I put on the Spanx...ummm, a little loose! *sigh* I can take the waistband facing off and remove the handstitching and edgestitching, deepen the darts and put it all back on...NOT!!! Or I can go have some lunch! Lunch won! *LOL*

But while I'm making a sandwich, I remember that Summerset added a button tab to one of her skirts? recently....ummm, I can do a tab! Back to the cutting table to cut out and sew a tab, find a button, make a buttonhole and sew the entire thing together. I'm almost afraid to try the darn thing on but it works, it really works! (Thanks Summerset!)

Finally, I am onto the hem. I knew even back before it became "The Production Skirt" that I wanted to bind the hem of the eyelet...again it would just be easier to handle the hem if there was something solid to add to the eyelets...but I needed to decide on length, binding material and how to apply it...more steps!

This time after rooting around in the notions collection, I found a cotton blend bias binding that I've had forever. I bought a 50 yard roll of it at least 10 years ago and I'm slowly working my way through it...probably one of my better purchases! Anyway it was applied on the right side using a 1/4" seam allowance...at which point my sewing machine decided it wanted to die on me! I am truly worried about it since it's been acting funny after the power shut off yesterday...

I turned it off for 30 minutes, while I pressed the seam towards the binding and then pressed it towards the back covering the seam while I watched a little Oprah. I am trying to be patient here...but I am worried about my SM! Next, I flipped it back on and I sewed close to the edge of the seam, checking every now and then to make sure that I was catching the binding in the back...and finally, finally the skirt was done.

I got this binding technique from Vonnevo on PR. Her photosite use to have the technique listed on it...cause I printed the pics off but I can't find it now...maybe I'm overlooking it...she has a Picasa site and a Flickr site.

During one of the trips to my daughter's full length mirror to check on the fit of the skirt, I did moan about how long it was taking to make a simple skirt...and her response was two words, "Quality Sewing."

However, I do think it is more than just that! I really do think that you can decide how many steps you want to take/make in your garment. I'm not sure if the steps are based upon sewing knowledge - well I guess some of them are...because how else would you know how to perform the task if you didn't know about it! But I think some of it is choices too...

So tell me, how many steps do you usually take when constructing a garment? Do you think them out ahead of time or do you just wing it? Do you sometimes get halfway through the construction process and realize that you need to go in a different direction? Or do you just forge ahead with the plans you already have? Talk back to me...I really want to know...because I took an awful lot of steps to get a simple skirt constructed today!!!

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Twice as Nice

I only had two days left to sew after spending most of the weekend on home improvement projects...so I wanted to make these two days count. Do I work on one involved project that might not get me much return (as in garments to wear right away) during this time...or do I go for the quick project that would make me feel like my weekend wasn't wasted...*sigh* I went for the quick project...

Actually I went for the project that would eliminate something from my "Grayed Affair" Wardrobe list as well as something from my Top 10 Fall Items list...yes, I pulled out my TNT Sewing Workshop Tank Top and set to work...

But first ~ the power went off for about an hour this morning in my apartment and let me just say that I was less than pleased with my utility company that the power shut off while my COMPUTERIZED sewing machine was on...

However, I did get a basic SW Mission Tank completed in the gray EOS silk that is part of the "Grayed Affair" wardrobe:

It's just basic sewing but it's a basic that brings so much punch to a garment:

And I also finished off the JCrew Argyle Knock-off Vest:

Some simple alterations to my SW Mission Tank pattern got me this vest.

1. Folded the front pattern piece over so that I would get a v-neckline.

2. Cut the pattern on the fold.

3. Normally I cut the back piece with a 5/8" seam allowance for a back seam - this time I cut it on the fold also.

4. My SW Mission Tank pattern has been altered to give me a closer fit at the underarm seam - for this version I added all of that back in. I wanted a looser fitting version for the vest.

5. The tie strips were cut 4" wide instead of the 3" that I normally use. I also cut them 60" long.

6. The front of the vest is cut from the argyle knit and the back and ties are cut from a black knit called Suaveur Knit from Fabric.com.

7. Assemble as normal for my tie-front top.

And wallah...the vest with RTW blouse and pants:

So I'm happy that I went with instant gratification...

Because now I've got two great transitional outfits to wear for late summer/early fall!


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