Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Breaking the Rules Again

My sneak peek yesterday featured a look at the second skirt in the collection. This skirt was inspired by one that I saw in a magazine. I want to say an issue of Lucky but I'm just not sure and of course I remembered the skirt but did not save an image of it!

However, it did stick with me. And since I wanted a skirt that would go with all of the jackets in the collection - this seemed like a great time to copy that inspiration skirt.

Some stats:

Pattern used:
TNT 4-gore skirt. The front and back pieces were cut on the fold using one piece of the 4 gores.

8.5" x 60" strip of white silk/linen
11.5" x 60" strip of yellow linen
13.5" x 60" strip of green linen
All fabrics were purchased from Fabric Mart

1 yard of 1" wide non-roll elastic

Construction Sequence:
*The challenging part of making this skirt was figuring out the proportions of the stripes and where they would fall on my body. I knew that I wanted the white stripe to be at the top of the skirt and to be the smallest of the stripes.

*So to figure out a pleasing proportion, I drew lines on my pattern piece and held the pieces up to me in the mirror to see if the stripes fell in a pleasing manner. I then measured the sections and added 1.5 inches to the total. 1.5 inches to cover the 5/8" seam allowances that needed to be added to either side of the strip.

*Then I rotary cut the strips from the yardage. Pressed each strip flat and serge finished the edges. Which in of itself was a process because I had to change the color of the serger thread for each stripe...*sigh*...anal I know!

*The panels were sewn together...once again changing thread in the sewing machine to coordinate with the fabric...and the seams were pressed flat and then down facing the darker side of the fabric.

*I cut the front panel first on the fold and then used it to match up the stripes on the back piece so that the side seams would match the entire circumference of the skirt.

After insuring that the stripes matched, it was simple to construct and finish the skirt. I debated whether or not to add a lining and finally decided against it. I had the same conversation with myself about whether or not to topstitch the stripes but finally decided to go with a simpler look and not use any topstitching.

I have to admit that initially when I sewed the panels together, I was a little concerned that this idea wasn't going to work. However, I am thrilled with the final product. Now I know that hanger shots are not as good as real body ones...but I will do a final reveal at the end of the process with me wearing all the pieces and some possible combinations. I have to leave a little sumthin' sumthin' to the end...*smile*

I had a question from Tanya in my last post that I want to answer....

"I have a question for you: In the pieces I've seen, it seems you favour elastic waistbands. As a plus girl myself, I certainly appreciate the extra comfort and ease afforded by elastic, but I've always heard that a flat, fitted waist is more flattering on a plus figure. What do you think?"

I think the reason this advice is given is because the fabric tends to bunch up around the waist giving the wearer a larger looking waistline that can be unflattering.

However, I like elastic waist skirts. I'm never going to tuck a shirt in and/or add-wear a belt. Even though other plus size women do...I just don't like the look on me. So I had to find a way to make an elastic waistline work...and what I found is that if I cut the elastic to just the right length, then insure that the gathers are formed evenly around the skirt, and finally stitching in the ditch on the side seams to make sure that the elastic and gathers don't move...I get a pretty flat waistline. I also make sure that the casing is not that much larger than the elastic.

See I carry most of my weight in my abdomen, behind and thighs...giving me alot of waistline. So the elastic actually stretches quite a bit more thus reducing the amount of bunching/gathering that most people don't like.

Now I don't just make elastic waist skirts...I have a straight skirt pattern that I use quite often...it has a zipper and a waistband and was last used in the Lucky pencil skirt challenge. Can I also say, that I understand the need for gleaning fashion advice from "the experts." However, as with all things I think you should take it with a grain of salt...even comments offered by me! You need to figure out what works for you...and if it breaks a rule so be it. If you look good in it...it is comfortable to wear...and it fits your lifestyle...I say go for it. Because I'm all about breaking the rules to get the clothing and effect I want!

Also Beth commented that the skirt was made from scraps...actually these strips were cut from the yardage before the other garments were made from the fabric. It was a deliberate idea to use the strips...not an afterthought.

This is the fourth completed piece in The Sunshine Yellow Dress and Jacket Collection...more later!

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's Show and Tell Week!

As I mentioned last week, I have been busily working on the pieces for the Yellow Wardrobe. So here is a sneak peek:

I said a sneak peek! *LOL* I've finished two jackets both made from Butterick 4980. A skirt (pictured above) and a dress from Simplicity 4014 which made it's original debut in my wardrobe as the reversible garment in my last Timmel SWAP entry.

As usual when I start sewing a big project there are changes. I've added a piece or two...another dress - made from changes to my TNT dress pattern - and a jacket from the white cotton pique that recently arrived from Fabric.com. For it, I am going to finally use the McCalls 5007 pattern that has been collecting dust in my pattern collection and that everyone and their mama has already made!

There are still two more dresses to be sewn besides the new added pieces. One from a silk/cotton yellow paisley print using this Butterick pattern (View A):

And one from the lemon yellow linen featured in the original wardrobe collection picture. This was going to be a jacket but I decided that I would get more wear from two little white jackets than from one very bright lemon yellow one. Thus another dress was born! The fabric will become a sleeveless sheath dress from my TNT pattern with some interesting accents.

Since Friday begins a three-day holiday weekend (4th of July here in the US) and I only have plans for a barbecue on Saturday afternoon...I will probably spend the majority of my weekend sewing. So I know several of these garments will emerge from my sewing machine. However, the new pieces that I just added will probably be completed next weekend.

Finally, thanks to everyone who left such kind comments about my daughter's dress and the Little Prince! I am very proud of both of them!!!

Show and tell begins tomorrow...so look for it!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

McCalls 5893

I know I've been like a TV promo advertising my guest blogger but as I said before, I'm really thrilled with the dress my daughter made...so without further ado, my guest blogger, my daughter Adrienne.

Hey everyone! I am a little thrilled and shocked that my mom asked me to do this! So I guess I will start with an intro...

I am the second daughter (or precious princess as my mom calls us!) and the mother of "The Little Prince".

I have been sewing since my freshman year in high school so about 7 years now. My mother got me into sewing. I loved it when I would see her in a new fashion forward outfit that looked like she would have bought from the store. And once I made my first shirt from the Burda Fast & Easy Magazine and got such great reviews, I was hooked. Now I sew every chance that I can which ain't easy with a 3 month old baby!!!

My mom asked me a series of questions to use as a basis for this post, so here they are:

1. What type of fabric did you use?
For this dress I was looking to make a bold statement. So I chose a purple border print in a rayon knit from my mom's stash.

2. Did you use any notions in this dress?
Besides thread...I left out the elastic at the bodice of the dress and added a black satin ribbon instead.

3. Why did you choose this pattern (McCalls 5893)?
I bought a maxi dress from Charlotte Russe and I wanted to make one of my own with my style added to it, even though this one ended up as a short version. I definitely see a longer one in my future!

4. Was it hard to sew? If yes, why? If no, why not?
No. It was pretty easy - just a little time-consuming since I don't sew very often anymore.

5. Construction Sequence:
I cut the pattern and fabric out. I sewed the bodice together and I left out the elastic. I used gathers instead so that I could lose some of the fullness. Then I sewed the skirt together...and finally sewed the bodice and skirt together.

This is where I asked my mom for help because I wanted to wear it to a picnic that day and I was running late. So my mom finished all the edges on her serger which gave the dress a funkysexycool look.

6. Any special tips?
No...I'm still an advanced beginner, so I sewed this straight out of the envelope.

Overall this is a great quick and easy dress to make. It can be worn casually, as business wear or more formally. I really loved my version of the dress and got alot of compliments on it at the picnic!

Thanks Mom for letting me show off my dress and "The Little Prince"!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Moving on...

This is just a filler post...some things rattling around in my brain...

The recent passings in the news have just blown me away. After seeing Farrah's Story, the documentary that was aired on NBC last month, I realized that it was just a matter of time until she succumbed to the cancer. Then to have that followed so quickly by the death of Michael Jackson was just an emotional overload. I still can not believe that he is dead...

There have been several posts on blogs about the fabrics that were purchased from the Vera Lavendar collection from Fabric.com. I am happy to report that most people were very satisfied with what they purchased. This is a good thing!

Since life is so fleeting and the sun is finally shining in the NYC area, I am sewing this weekend! *LOL* But you already knew that didn't you!

The post from my daughter will go up tomorrow...so look for it! I'm really proud of the dress that she made...can you tell!?!

And lastly, please take some time today or this weekend to hug the people closest to you and tell them that you love them...you just never know!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Fabric Conversation

I know I promised a garment post and that will come soon, I promise. Right now I want to continue the fabric conversation that we are having.

First, I try to be as honest as possible here. That's why I posted about being underwhelmed about the Vera Lavendar Collection fabrics. Not disappointed...not willing to send them back...just underwhelmed. And that could have been caused by several factors...primary amongst them being my own sense of anticipation which can greatly affect how a box of fabric is viewed when it arrives.

However, I am troubled that my exuberance for the purchase and subsequent letdown were taken as indications as to why you shouldn't purchase fabric on the internet...which of course was not my intent and totally defeats the purpose of the series of posts I just wrote!

Because if you are totally honest with yourself, you will admit that you have purchased some less than desirable pieces at the brick and mortar fabric stores. Some pieces that when you got them home you thought, "what the h*ll was I thinking?" You were swayed by the lighting, where the fabric was grouped, a display made from the fabric you bought, or even a friend that you were shopping with...we have all experienced fabric euphoria when shopping and during these times mistakes can be made. A major difference with experiencing fabric euphoria in the store versus online is that in most cases the online purchases can be returned!

So really, my less than stellar experience this one time should not stop you from trying an online fabric retailer. And if you took it as a sign that you shouldn't....mmmmm, not to be disrespectful but you read that sign wrong. Now if you just can't get over the fact that you need to touch a piece of fabric before bringing it home...I respect that. I just believe you are closing yourself off to some wonderful possibilities...but to each his own.

Now to "Anonymous" who wrote that they purchased 9 yards upon my recommendation, I would suggest that you wait until your box arrives before you decide that my recommendation has let you down. If you re-read the comments, there were several sewists who were very satisfied with what they purchased. There was also some discussion on the fact that even though the fabrics weren't as we envisioned them, that they were usable. We just have to revisit our original ideas and come up with new ones.

Once again let me state that I share the things that are happening in my sewing world. Yes, I was very excited about the sale and I wrote about it...but please if you decide to join me on one of my quests don't be disappointed with me if we don't share similar journeys.

Finally, fabric buying whether via the internet or at a bricks and mortar store is an adventure. You use the knowledge you have, the sewing techniques you know and "hope" for a good outcome. Because there is always that "unknown" element of a fabric...it can shrink in the wash...it can pill after wearing...or it may be a bear to stitch up. If asked to guess how many times that happens I would say maybe 1 in 100 but be aware that the possibility exists.

Now should that stop you from purchasing? Should that stop you from creating? Should that even stop you from buying from that particular retailer again? *sigh* My answer to all of the above is no...because I love to sew more than I love to eat. My world would not be complete without a few hours in it every week to sew, think about sewing, or read about sewing. But that's me and my journey...you have to follow your own path.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Vera Wang Lavendar Collection Fabric has arrived

...and honestly...I'm underwhelmed. I knew this fabric came from the Fall 2008 Collection. I knew this because I'm a freaky Style.com junkie and several of the pieces from her line caught my eye. I recognized the blue boucle right away...

...so why am I underwhelmed...the quality of the fabrics. I really thought that Vera used a better quality fabric than what my fingers are feeling. If you flipped to the style.com link, you will see that fabric.com has an amazing amount of the fabric from the Fall 2008 collection.

Now back to the quality, it's not bad! And I won't return it...it's just mediocre...average...nothing special. Will it make interesting garments...yes, I think so...with a little help and some great finishing techniques. Will I keep the pieces...yes...especially since my daughter has already absconded with this piece

to make a dress for her cousin's wedding. But have I purchased superior fabric for less money...yes, most definitely. Would I encourage you to buy it...mmmmmm...not at the prices currently shown on the website...but yes, just at a deeper discount than the 35% off that I paid for it.

Now here's the $25,000 question, "Do I regret purchasing it?" No, not at all. For two reasons, one the white cotton stretch pique is absolutely awesome...I would pay the full price of $6.98 per yard for it. I know the boucle will grow on me...ideas are already popping in my head. The green "vintage" piece will need to sit in the closet and wait for an amazing idea to really make it sing, the yellow lace will become a part of the yellow wardrobe that I'm presently working on and the other pieces will be warehoused for future use. Yes all of that is reason one!

Reason two is that I've learned something about the Lavendar line. It is a mid-priced line using less than stellar fabrics and I will remember that in the future when perusing Vera's goods. Now for the disclaimer! *LOL* This is just my opinion and not meant to disparage either Vera Wang's designs or Fabric.com. I just have a particular idea of the types of fabrics I want to use for creating garments. It's just that I thought these were the top shelf goods instead of the mid-range goods.

I would love to hear what others thought of the pieces they purchased. It will be interesting to hear about your expectations versus the actuality of what you received.

Tomorrow...a finished garment post! And don't forget coming soon the post by my daughter!!!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Buying Fabric Online - Part 2

I know I've been a little remiss in posting part 2 but I sewed this weekend! The entire weekend and I was loath to leave my sewing machine for the computer! Cause you know once you get on the computer it becomes a great big time suck and you are left wondering where did the last three hours go!

That was the first thing. The second thing is that I'm going to have a guest blogger at the end of the week...I'm pretty excited because it's my daughter sharing her version of McCalls 5893!!!

Okay back to Part 2 of buying fabric online...

The next point on my list was to be adventurous...seriously folks nothing ventured...nuthin' gained! You need to be willing to take a chance on a piece...something that you haven't used before or a color you don't normally wear. Order it from an online vendor recommended by me or one of my fellow bloggers. And when the piece arrives, if it's not what you expected...can you change your expectations? Can you dream a new dream? Or are you locked into your original position?

Many times I've received a piece from an online vendor that didn't match with what my perception of the fabric would be. Nine out of ten times, I will just add it to the fabric closet because in a week or a month or several years from now, it will work with a newly acquired piece. Now this advice works great for us collectors...but if you are a person who doesn't stash I can see how this philosophy would make you slightly nervous.

However, there are several sites where you can alleviate those fears. Fabric.com offers a design wall that allows you to take their swatches, put them on the wall and play around with them to see how well they coordinate. This is a godsend for not just garment sewists but for quilters too. Personally, I love the design wall. Whenever I'm unsure of a combination I throw it up there and see how they play together...well and they come home with me...not so well and they get tossed back in.

At Emmaonesock, not only does Linda provide a large swatch of fabric, but she also has a picture beneath it that shows the drapability of the fabric. This is wonderful when trying to ascertain the hand and if the fabric is appropriate for a garment. Fabric Mart has a similar feature, they drape the fabric over a bolt again allowing you to see how the fabric falls.

But I think Ann of Gorgeous Things has one of the best sewing tools for a sewist...there is an amazing gallery of photos of sewists wearing creations from her fabrics. Want to see what a print looks like in real life...check out Ann's gallery. Want to see if that woven has some drapeability to it? Check out Ann's gallery.

Most of the major online retailers show coordinating fabrics together. If you don't know if something matches, check what the retailer has shown alongside the fabric or noted below in the copy. Again, if you have a question, use the customer service number...seriously that's what its there for and they are willing...well actually more than willing to assist you.

Finally back to my original point about being adventurous...say a piece comes and it's not what you wanted...don't be afraid to experiment or manipulate the piece. Wash a dryclean only piece. Bleach, dye or print a piece...let your imagine fly and do something out of the ordinary for you...

But let's say what shows up is just so terribly wrong that all you can do is go, "what the h*ll was I thinking?" Then my next point is Very, Very Important! Know their return policy. Almost every online retailer has a FAQs section or a customer service tab. Check to see if you can return fabric. Is there a restocking fee? Do you have to pay to return the fabric or is a credit given for shipment? If the fabric is non-returnable and you are weary of purchasing online, do not buy from that retailer. I can say that in good conscience.

Since this is getting a bit long...I'm going to stop here and do one final post on buying online where I will deal with color/monitor issues, whether or not you should be on the online retailers email lists, and give you a listing of a few good books to own that will assist you with knowing your fabrics better!

And if you don't mind, I'm going to slip in a few finished garment posts 'cause I really want to show you what I've been up to and of course my daughter will do her guest blog post. Look for it because I really like her version of the McCalls dress.

...and as always...more later!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Buying Fabric Online - Part 1

After my last post on a fabric sale, it seems appropriate to discuss the hows of purchasing fabric online. Now I've received several requests to post about how I manage to buy so much fabric online especially since I do have a relatively good fabric resource a subway train away...

As I started to write this, I realized that there is alot of territory to cover so this topic will be covered in several parts. And second if I may, I would like to stress that if you have a great bricks 'n mortar store near you, please support them! Fabric stores service a narrower market than say the supermarket, and if they are struggling to maintain (especially since we all must eat!), you can imagine how much harder it is for both the bricks 'n mortar and the online stores to survive.

First let me start with several "suggestions" on how to buy fabric online.

1. Know your fabrics

2. Listen to recommendations by others

3. Be adventurous

4. Know the return policy

5. Be diligent

6. Books, books and more books

My first suggestion is the one that brings the most comments. Know your fabrics. I've heard things like how can you purchase online if you can't touch the fabric? How do I know if the color is true? Or the weight?

These are all valid questions. However, in my case I've learned to read the descriptions for key words. Online vendors who take the time to add descriptive words are doing their best to assist you with your purchases. So key words that I look for describe the weight. Words like lightweight, mediumweight or heavy weight. These are true descriptions of the weight of the fabric. The challenge can come when the author of the website's idea of the weight differs from your idea. This has happened to me but it hasn't very often.

Other descriptive words that I look for to characterize fabric are words like drapeability, flowy, stiff hand - words that refer to how the fabric hangs and moves. Think about the garment you want to make when reviewing these descriptive words, make sure that the words accurately states how you want your piece to hang on you.

My last criteria are the phrases that fabric retailers include like...fabric is great for dresses, and blouses or perfect for pants. These phrases are included to give you some guidance on what type of garment will make up well from the fabric you are drooling over! *smile*

Finally, if all else fails and you are still not sure about the weight, the color, or the hand of the fabric, call the online retailer's customer service department and ask. Believe me the times that I have made that phone call, I've been very happy with the responses and information shared with me. But most importantly, I've been thrilled with the fabric that arrived at my home.

Okay, so you say those are great suggestions...but I'm just learning to sew, or I've been sewing for awhile but don't know much about fabrics! And since I don't have a bricks and mortar store near me to touch fabrics and get an idea of what I like...I just don't feel secure about purchasing online.

Here is an idea...start your own fabric file. Buy some index cards. Cut a swatch of the fabrics from your stash or collection...swatches that you know the contents of...and secure them to the index card. Write a brief description of the fabric on the card. I would even write what you either made from the fabric or what you are thinking of making. On the flip side of the index card, I would put a little additional information - where you purchased the fabric and how the fabric is made.

Now determining how the fabric is made could be the more challenging issue. However, there are several books available and there is always google! *smile* Seriously though the more information you put on the index card, the better reference you will have. If you keep all of these cards together, you will surely develop a knowledge of fabrics and fibers that will assist you when purchasing online.

The last thing I want to discuss today is to listen to the recommendations of others. Most of us read several different blogs daily, weekly, etc. I am not the only blogger making fabric recommendations...listen to their experiences. Pay attention to what they share about using particular fabrics. See if their lifestyle is similar to yours and if they are using pieces that would work well with your own lifestyle. And finally, almost all of us have favorite online vendors. Try a small purchase from these vendors. See how their shipping is...do you receive it quickly? Do you like how its packaged? Is there a coupon or additional swatches included? Is the fabric like what you expected? Was the customer service helpful?

I have alot more to say about purchasing fabric online but if you have any questions, please feel free to post them. I think of buying fabric one way. You might have different concerns that I haven't thought of and would like to discuss. So ask away...

I will be working on more items from the yellow wardrobe this weekend. The weatherman says that the sun is finally coming out for more than a 24 hour period this Wednesday in the Northeast...so I want to be ready with some color drenched wardrobe pieces!

As always...more later!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fabric Disorder

We all know that I have an issue with fabric...so let's not even go there as I proceed to tell you about the newest sale at fabric.com. Now I've purchased a bit from fabric.com over the years and there are some finished garments made from their fabrics residing in my closet as well as some pieces still residing in my fabric closet. In all honesty, I don't purchase as much from them as I do from my beloved Fabric Mart, but hey we all have our favorites!

So the reason that 27 yards...yes I said 27 yards...of fabric are on their way to my apt is because somehow, someway, the owner of fabric.com got his hands on 1000s of yards of fabric from Vera Wang's Lavendar Collection. And believe me I had a hard time paring it down to just 27 yards!!!

Let me start at the beginning...I was on Stitchers Guild last week and there was a link to the Vera Wang collection on fabric.com. Being the fabric piggy that I am and knowing the label, I clicked in. Ohmygoodness...I was in fabric heaven! Do you remember this suit that was on my "To Sew" list last fall:

This very fabric is now onsale at fabric.com...so of course I bought some! But the entire fabric line must be in the folder! They have silks, boucles, wools, herringbones, jerseys...a little of everything for any lifestyle...looking for a white shirt fabric...it's in there! Need some t-shirt fabric...it's in there! Want a great little poly print or silk print for a fabulous summer dress...it's in there! Seriously, it's in there! *LOL*

The sale is going on until June 22nd...but I would hurry on over and check it out before the really good stuff is gone! *LOL* And then let me know what you got...and I will let you know what I got too! I'm more than excited! Just what I needed on yet another rainy, dreary day here in NYC!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


Its spring in New York. Not that really warm breezy spring that makes all young women and some silly older women strip to practically nuthin'. No, its the type of spring where coats have come off and women are wearing their spring gear in the form of dresses and skirt outfits.

And some of the things that are being shown are just down right beautiful...today I walked to the post office behind a woman wearing the most awesome skirt. It was a black & white print that looked like it was made of petals encased in black bias binding. After walking behind her for several blocks, I had figured out how to make one for myself. Oh, how I love springtime in NY!

Then this morning as I was crossing the street and heading into McDonalds...I have a weakness for sausage mcmuffins...there was a woman walking her dog. She was wearing a shirtdress made from a silk border print. The back of the dress was made from a series of tucks and she wore it belted. I never saw the front of the dress close-up. But just the rear view made me want to go home and sew.

Any day walking to the subway station, headed to the post office or the bank, I can catch a glimpse of a woman wearing something that will turn my world upside down...it will start the inspiration wheels turning, make my creative heart salivate...and make me wish I could go home and sew.

So what inspires you? Do you have situations that inspire you to look at a garment in a different way? Do you sightsee at lunchtime or even at the market? And do you transfer the items you sightsee into actual garments?

I can tell you honestly that you will see that petal skirt come out of my sewing machine this summer...hopefully I will be able to see something that's inspired from your own sightseeing come out of yours!!!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Simplicity and Khaliah Ali Patterns

When I was first learning to sew, Simplicity Patterns were the ish to me! They were stylish, inexpensive and what my first sewing teacher taught me to work with. They fulfilled the needs of a young sewist who had no pattern alterations to make besides length changes.

Several years into sewing, about my 20s, Simplicity and I fell out of harmony. The patterns seemed dowdy, the styling on the pattern envelopes was corny and I now could afford Vogue Patterns so a new love affair was born. It was almost two decades before I looked at a Simplicity pattern again.

And even then it was waayyyy after others had jumped on the "NEW" Simplicity bandwagon because by then I was using a plus size pattern....and those offerings were still dowdy. Then miraculously Simplicity hired Khaliah Ali, drafted some current and stylish patterns in plus sizes and styled the hell out of the pattern covers. I bought a lot of those patterns for myself and for my daughter.

I have to admit that I loved the new direction that Simplicity went in and was a little upset when Khaliah Ali had weight reduction surgery. Now before you start throwing tomatoes, I know that she did it for health reasons but I was worried about the plus size pattern line at Simplicity...and in the last couple of years that concern has been borne out. The attention paid to plus size patterns has decreased. I have purchased fewer and fewer patterns from Simplicity because I don't need a Project Runway pattern to tell me how to change designs on a pattern...no matter that some of them are graded up to a size 24!

Also, since I don't frequent the craft store masquerading as a fabric store (the yellow embroidered linen came from them), I rarely purchase patterns at brick and mortar stores...so in this regard Butterick/Vogues/McCalls is kicking Simplicity's butt because I can buy any pattern from them online at very reduced prices. Simplicity really needs to get on the bandwagon and offer some online sales at their pattern site. Seriously, how many patterns can they be selling online with only a 40% discount...but I digress!

Back to Khaliah Ali...I've been very disappointed in the offerings. Yes, Simplicity is now grading more of their regular size patterns up to a size 24, but they are still missing the size 24W - 38W woman that the Khaliah Ali patterns served. Or how about the fact that not every woman who sews is confident enough to grade up or fit a smaller pattern...so once again "The Fat Girls" market is being underserved.

*sigh* As the self-appointed "Ambassador of Fat Girls Who Sew", I've been trying not to put Simplicity on blast because even though Simplicity hasn't been updating the Khaliah Ali line, you could still find the patterns online at various vintage spots and eBay.

However, lately I have noticed that the Khaliah Ali patterns are making a resurgence...and for this I am happy and hopeful! Seriously, Simplicity if you knew how many plus size women who sew write me about what I make and how it inspires them, you would invest a little more time and effort into your plus size line - with or without Khaliah Ali as your spokesperson.

Now I've said all of that...are you all still with me?! *LOL*...I need to tell you that I absolutely adore this new Khaliah Ali pattern.

I would pay the $10.15 for the pattern from the website, if I didn't want 5 other patterns! *LOL* Seriously, this pattern works for plus size women in a lot of different lifestyles...and it has a vest in it! A plus size vest! Ohmygoodness, be still my little fashionista heart!

I'm also really loving the blouse/top/jacket in this pattern...so Simplicity is NOT going on blast...but they are definitely on probation with me. Please invest a little more time on the plus size line. Go back to where you were...we fat girls who sew would truly appreciate it! And by the way, if you added some sewing instructions online for altering and fitting your plus size patterns, we would love you forever....okay maybe not forever...but darn near close! *LOL*

I will have updates on the yellow wardrobe soon and as always, more later!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Saturday's Bits and Pieces

I am working on the next pieces of the Yellow Wardrobe and I really don't have anything to show yet. But I did want to share a few bits and pieces that were running through my mind.

1. I received this email from Neiman Marcus back in February and I saved it. When emptying my email box today, I realized that it was a list that I've been subconsciously working from...

The list is called "Dressing to the Nines" and it suggests 9 things you should buy this spring/summer....

a. Something pink
(have a skirt cut out that needs to be sewn up in shades of pink print)

b. A pair of statement shoes

c. Something with ruffles

d. A great carryall
(picked up an amazing teal bag that everyone is drooling over and that I need to hide from my daughters)

e. Something with a graphic print
(one kewl, trendy pencil skirt finished!)

f. A one shouldered garment
(okay this just ain't happening!)

g. Bold jewelry
(check, check!)

h. A colorful cardigan
(check, check!)

i. A snakeskin accessory

2. Then this week I got this pdf in an email from Edris. It's taken from the July 2009 issue of Glamour magazine. I love all the versions of yellow dresses and its nice to be in fashion with my own versions, especially since I've made two and have one more coming.

3. In the July 2009 issue of Oprah, there is the O Style Report by Adam Glassman. He has a list called "Adam's Low-Fat Dressing." It had some great points that I wanted to share with you:

~Ditch the sack.
Wear body conscious - but not tight - clothes in your size.

~Think vertical
Seams, piping, stripes or a deep v-neck stretch you out.

~Equalize your porportions.
Pear shapes should offset a bigger lower half with details that broaden the upper body, well-endowed women can downside their busts with simple tops.

~Disguise thighs.
Adam says that skirts should hit at mid-knee, where your leg is slimmer

~Emphasize your waist.
Carolyn says even if you don't have one, since we sew, we can make it look like we do with shaping and seams.

~Avoid flimsy fabrics.
Materials like gabardine, stretch cotton (or linen) - especially in a tailored form - give the body structure. Thin fabrics show every budge.

~Invest in shapewear
Suck you in lingerie can take off five pounds (or more!)

Italic emphasis is all mine!

The July 2009 issue has a great style section, so if you are looking for a good magazine for the beach or vacation, pick up this issue of Oprah.

And the last bit is that I opened an email a couple of days ago from Fashion Fabrics Club advertising silk twill for $6.95. Now, I love silk twill so I scrolled through the offerings...and I was pretty safe because there were a lot of solid color pieces listed. Then I found this:

...and I had to have 3 yards of it! It reminds me of a Roland Mouret dress so it had to come to live in my fabric collection. Hopefully, it is a piece that I will get to soon. It will be used to make another one of those Fashion Friday pieces...a little too forward for the regular work week but perfect for the "casualness" of Fridays!

Okay I'm off to finish sewing...and since there hasn't been a photo of the Little Prince lately...I will leave you with one!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Chadwicks Dress is finished!

100% yellow linen with embroidered border print from Joann's of all places!

TNT dress pattern

2.5 yards yellow ambiance lining
20" tan invisible zipper
4 yards of yellow bias binding

Pattern Adjustment:
*I laid the front yoke piece on top of the regular dress front piece. Then I added a piece of pattern paper on top of both pieces to trace a center front panel and a side front piece.

*The center front panel was traced at 10" wide (a 5" piece with a center front fold) to accommodate my border piece. I added a 5/8" seam allowance to the side seam of the panel.

*I then traced the side front panel, minus the yoke piece, adding a 5/8" seam allowance to it.

Those simple changes were all I needed to make to the front of my TNT pattern to achieve the look of the Chadwicks Dress.

Construction Steps:
~I cut the center front pattern from the embroidered border of the fabric.

~I sewed the darts in the side fronts, then sewed the center panel to each side front.

~The seams were pressed to the center of the panel and then topstitched down using the triple stitch on my Janome.

~The yoke was then added to this piece and the same topstitching applied to that seam also.

A few simple sewing steps and I had reconstructed the front of the inspiration dress. Since I couldn't find any pics of the back of the dress, I made it the same way that I make all of my sheath dresses. However, I did use an invisible zipper insertion for this dress. It's an okay insertion...not perfect...not bad. I will keep practicing these until I get better...and I will keep talking about it! *LOL*

The best thing about working with a TNT pattern is that all of the fitting challenges have been resolved. So when I tried the dress on there were no surprises. Except for the fact that I love the way the front panel slims me and how great the dress looks on me. You can imagine something but it doesn't always work...this time it worked better than I thought it would!

This is the third finished piece in the yellow wardrobe. Next up is another skirt. The remaining pieces to be sewn are three jackets and two more dresses. It's looking like I will manage to get all of these pieces finished in time for my 4th of July deadline. I'm really enjoying the challenge of sewing this wardrobe and am glad that you are along for the journey with me!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Just Skirting Around

"Every now and then your wardrobe needs an injection of something, new, trendy and fun. That was the thought when we spied the pencil skirts shown in the large graphic prints and florals in the June 2009 issue of Lucky Magazine. These skirts provide a great way to update a classic...so with that photo spread and a little conversation...we were ready to create our own versions. Following are our individual interpretations of an updated yet classic pencil skirt."

A feature in Lucky Magazine highlighting the pencil skirt done in a large scale floral print or a graphic print.

The Challenge:
Create a pencil skirt works on our own body and use a bold print. Participants are Carolyn, Cidell, LindsayT, and Marji. (Marji proposed the challenge after reading Carolyn's post of May 9 and asked a few fellow sewists she emails and talks to regularly if they wanted to participate.)

The skirt:

Pattern used:
TNT Skirt Pattern

Fabric/Fabric source:
100% Rayon Print from

Construction details:
I used a graphic print for my version of the skirt. It is a bold and daring print that I thought it best emulated the skirts shown in Lucky. The construction was fairly straightforward. I did add a lining to my skirt but I chose a lime green piece that I only had a remnant of...which necessitated having to add a piece of 3" lace trim to the hem of the lining pieces.

Even then it was shorter than I normally like for a lining...however, it does work...so I went with it.

And even though I've been on an invisible zipper application craze, I ended up using a regular centered zipper application in this skirt. Partially because I had no 9" invisible zippers on hand and partially because the regular zipper matched the skirt and lining soooooo well...that color coordination trumped new technique! So into the skirt it went! *LOL*

This was a fun exercise to participate in and I've ended up with a very cute, very trendy skirt that works really well with the soft lime green twinset I already own. I've had some great conversations with friends and I've learned a new fitting technique from Marji - "The Fitting Goddess!" Now I'm ready for another Fashion Friday!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

An update and some housekeeping

Most Januarys I restock my notions, lining & underlinings, interfacing and thread supplies. Last year though I went a little overboard so I didn't really have to restock as much this January.

However, as previously noted, I am a color coordination disciple. When going through my serger threads this weekend, I realized that I don't own any serger thread to coordinate with the yellows and green fabrics in my new wardrobe plan.

So I placed a smallish order with Atlanta Thread and Supply - one of my favorite online notion suppliers. BTW, ATS is offering a 15% off discount on many of their items. Maxi-Lock Thread is $1.80 per spool and Gutterman Thread - 1100 yd spools - are $2.51. I know that this is a much better bargain than your local craft/fabric store offers!

Can I take a minute here to say something...often I speak of a purchase that I made from an online or bricks 'n mortar store on my blog. When I post about them, I am sharing MY experiences with the supplier...and most of the time the reason they receive a mention from me is because I had a good experience with them, or they were offering a great product, or amazing customer service. I've purchased from them several times because I was satisfied with the serviced I received.

However, if someone else has a different experience with any recommended supplier...I'm sorry...but I really have nothing to do with that. I can not make a supplier ship faster, replace a product, etc. I also will NOT put a supplier on blast because someone else had an issue with them...especially since I'm only getting one side of the story and in my book there are always TWO sides to every situation.

Also I am loath to blast a supplier because many of them are small businesses with staffs of 10 people or less. In these perilious economic times, there would have to be major maliciousness and deceitfulness for me to blast an online sewing supplier...so please know from the get-go...I don't VENDOR BASH. Not when so many households could be in jeopardy and NOT when I've seen so many of these bashings almost wipe out a sewing companies business.

I will now apply a disclaimer...the above mentioned supplier provided wonderful service to me. I am expecting quick delivery of said product and this is JUST MY experience. I do not know what your experience will be if you decide to use said supplier.

NEXT - Chadwick Dress Update!

The dress shell is completed. The lining has also been sewn together but it still needs a hem before I insert it into the dress. The dress needs about 2 hours of finishing which I hope to work on this weekend so that I can wear it to work next week.

There was a comment posted that this dress is similar to my Menswear Lace Dress...ummm, no it actually isn't. It has the same bones but the details are different. The Menswear Lace Dress (MLD) has a pleat in the front with the lace sewn to the pleat. It also has a conventional zipper in it...yes, I'm going to go on and on about my invisible zipper challenge! *LOL* The Chadwicks Dress (CD) has a round yoke neck insertion and a center front panel, as well as, separate side fronts. Of course, the CD has an invisible zipper insertion that is okay...not perfect but not bad.

As an aside...Marji assures me that I will get really good at these after about 40 or 50 insertions! *LOL*

The dress is hanging and looking at me every day. The color makes me happy and my version will definitely emulate the original...but it will be slightly different since I have no idea what the back of the inspiration dress looks like...so I'm going with what I like. I've also added extensive amounts of topstitching and a lining to the dress which has given the fabric some heft.

As previously stated, I hope to finish this up this weekend and then I have two skirts that I want to work on before making the jackets. I'm not really sure if I'm on track to get this wardrobe finished before July 4th but I'm definitely enjoying the journey...

...as always, more later!

Monday, June 01, 2009

I'm a little different

Most sewists seem to start with a pattern either purchased from a pattern maker/company or from a pattern magazine. They search through the catalogues, websites or magazines for styles they like and look like current garments - then they sew them up.

I'm a little different. As I look around blogworld and on PR, I see this as the sewing standard. I on the other hand don't think that way. I see something I like in a picture, on someone walking down the street, a detail on a mannequin in a store display or I just dream something up from all the inspiration that abounds.

To accomplish what I want to copy or what I dreamed up, I mostly turn to my TNT patterns...sometimes I will have a pattern in my vast collection that will be what I'm looking for...but mostly it's the TNT that assists me in bringing new designs to life. Using a TNT pattern means that I don't have to work on fit issues, I can just implement the design.

Now I will admit that there has been an oopsies or two (The Bring it on Dress!)...but mostly there have just been wonderful successes. Lately I've found that this is the way I like to sew most. Taking the challenge of figuring out how to copy or initiate the design, planning out the construction steps and then constructing the garment step by step.

So I'm no longer following the sewing standard. I've started to branch out and take on more involved projects...but I'm loving it! I think this is one of the reasons why my output has slowed. The garments I'm constructing are more involved and complex. There are very few simple sews. There are more time-consuming, think about them and make them work garments.

That is the project I am working on now. I am knocking off this Chadwicks dress. It is part of my new yellow wardrobe. It is not a difficult sheath dress, the moving parts were easy to duplicate, but I could never have purchased it in my size. The largest size that this dress goes up to is a size 16 - and yes I know that Jessica London is the sister site to Chadwicks - but it is not sold there either! Like I would buy it if it was! *LOL* Pics will be forthcoming of the finished dress and the construction process.

I know I am a little different...my sewing is taking me on a different journey than the norm so I thank you for traveling with me...and as always...

More later!


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