Monday, August 31, 2009

A lunchtime excursion

I'm in preparation mode for my upcoming sewing vacation. I've made a list. Crossed half the stuff on it off and rewritten it...3x now!!! Can you tell I'm excited...mostly I'm excited because for 10 days I won't have to get up at 5:30 in the morning!

But I today I headed over to Tender Buttons at lunchtime. I haven't been to Tender Buttons in years. Usually when I need buttons I head over to M&J but today I wanted something different and I hoped that Tender Buttons would provide that. I'm looking for extraordinary or extra special buttons for the Badgley Mischka suit and for the Pumpkin dress and jacket.

Now I have to tell you that Tender Buttons is really no different from some of the smaller button shops in the district. The shop has an extensive collection of buttons housed in a wall of button boxes that you pull down and look for the button you want. They do provide quaint little tables in the center of the store so that you can examine the buttons very carefully. It has a much more laid back atmosphere than the garment district button stores have...there's a buzz of excitement that's missing here. It's more genteel and quiet...sort of like the "little old ladies" that man the check out table in the back of the store.

I never saw a cash register. Just two ladies with a pad writing down what you want and providing change. Oh and this is very important...they don't do credit cards! Cash or check ONLY! There also isn't a heavy "sale" vibe here. You are allowed to pick and choose, linger and touch to your hearts desire. When and only when you are ready, do you go to the back of the store and hand over the boxes to discuss your purchases.

I was torn between several buttons for my new garments and the ladies were very helpful. Offering opinions and only allowing me to make a purchase once I took both buttons along with my fabric samples out into the sunlight to see which one would look best. They were both very interested in the printouts of the garment patterns that I had. They didn't realize that you could buy patterns over the internet...and were amazed that my fabric (samples) had been purchased that way too. I've truly forgotten that there is an entire segment of the population who don't live their lives on the internet. What an interesting concept! *LOL*

Anyway, I'm sure you want to see what I bought...

And here is how they come home with you...

I'm very excited about these buttons. They tie into the vision I have for the garments and they are one less thing that have to be bought before the outfits can come to fruition. Next up, I need thread and lining fabric...

...and as always, more later!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday Ramblings

I'm a little sad today...I spent the morning watching the funeral for Senator Ted Kennedy and listening to the eulogies by his children and President Obama which really moved me...

...and then today is Michael Jackson's 51st birthday but he's not here to celebrate it because they are now saying that he was murdered...


So add emotional weariness to physical tiredness and you don't have a good mix...but moving onto sewing things...I've decided that the Pumpkin Wardrobe is just not coming out of my sewing machine this month...heck there's only two more days to the month and I haven't worked on one piece! I will more than likely make a couple of the pieces but probably during the month of September and not in the grand concept that I originally envisioned.

Letting the wardrobe plan go has been oddly freeing...I've sewn whatever has come to mind the last few weeks...with some misses and a hit. Hopefully my next garment will be a hit too. I've decided that I have enough summer garments and that I'm going to start sewing pre-fall leading up to the great sewing & relaxing vacation week...which I can't wait for!

To that end, this weekend I will work on the bow tied sheath dress in Vogue 7361. An out of print pattern that I first mentioned last year around this time in my Top Ten Things for Fall post. This pattern has been on the back burner of my "creative" mind and following some email correspondence with Gaylene, it came storming back to the forefront. I've also really wanted to use the pink tweedy silk that is pictured with the pattern. I've had this piece for about five or six years, purchased from Vogue Fabrics at a sewing show in Worcester, MA. This will be my first pre-fall outfit.

I also wanted to let you know that my invisible zipper trials will now take a backseat here. I really just wanted to share with you that even experienced sewists need to learn new things and that we all should be fearless about learning them. I think I've got this one now *smile* since I no longer get the heebie jeebies thinking about them! Hopefully someone else learned something at the same time that I did!

I may or may not have a new outfit to share with you soon...depends on how much I get done! Right after I take a nap and watch some more MJ videos which are everywhere this weekend...

Friday, August 28, 2009

Thank You!

I was looking through my blog and reading some of the comments and I have to say a great big thank you to all of you! Thank you for reading my adventures! Thank you for cheering on the guest bloggers and thank you for coming back again and again!

Being the comment ho that I am, it is always amazing to me that days later someone is still commenting on a post. It is heartwarming to realize that you care as much about something I said, wrote and made as much as I do.

But most especially I want to give thanks to both Gigi and Colleen for taking the time to write such informative blog posts...for so willingly sharing of their vast sewing knowledge and who without hesitation agreed to write these posts!

Thanks to everyone who let me know that Archie is marrying Veronica and making the biggest mistake of his life! Yeah, that marriage won't last...sort of like how Barbie finally got wise to Ken! *LOL* Hang in there Betty, your turn is coming!

I'm having dinner this evening with some sewing friends...and I can't wait!
(ETA - Dinner will have to wait! Woke up this morning feeling I'm home today! I hope you guys will forgive me!)

As always...more later!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays - A Primer on Fit!

Colleen says:
I make my living fitting bodies. I’ve been doing it in some form or another for almost my entire life time. My skills have evolved into a paycheck coupled with international travel for companies that I’m sure you know of and most likely own a piece of clothing or lingerie by one of them. In short, I’m good at what I do – but here’s the secret -- people overestimate the skills needed to achieve a good fit.

Many home sewists grow to fear it, they leave fashion sewing and start crafting, or quilting or making home dec items because the ever elusive ‘fitting’ is too difficult. I’m here to tell you – it isn’t!

I’ve known Carolyn for probably 15 years and we have many shared fun moments around our families and our sewing machines. If you bribe me with chocolate, I’ll tell you how she used to fit garments before we met and I gently guided her in a more suitable direction.

Carolyn asked me to share some very general points in a first of several blog posts on what constitutes good fit and some tips to achieve it. Obviously I can’t cover everything in a blog format, but I’m hoping you can take away a few things that will enhance your future projects.

Perfect fit:

Perfect fit, does not always give you the most flattering garment. The idea is to flatter your figure, not just fit it. I’m a plus sized woman, I can make any garment for my body, but I’m steering clear of the bikinis and micromini skirts. . . they don’t flatter me.


Instead of spending time to label your perceived figure flaws, I recommend you simply embrace your figure and keep fitting and fitting and practicing!

Fabric weight and weave can make or break a garment – when you decide on a pattern, take a shoping trip and find a similar style and feel the weight of the fabric that works for the garment shape.

More than Measurements:

A perfect set of measurements isn’t going to make the pattern magically fit you because it is the relationship of those measurements sitting next to each other that is going to give you a good fitting garment.

Think of this for a moment. You are a bird, sitting in a tree, looking down on a snowman that someone built below you. What you see from above is three circles, one inside the other, perfectly nested inside each other.
If you took the measurements of the largest point around each section, you could put pencil to paper. And draw out a pattern and it would wrap around this and zip up the back without problem and Ms. Snow Fashionista would be out the door. . . However – we aren’t all built with our measurements equally distributed off of one main center column as a snow person is.

Commercial sewing pattern measurements give several key measurements to work with; however they don’t speak to how those measurements relate to one another.

What if the snow person has a middle section that is the perfect measurement, but what if it is pushed far forward, overhanging the lowest section? Would the commercial sewing pattern still fit perfectly if the measurements were exactly what they called for? Hmmmm, the answer is ‘it depends.’

(for the record, every student I’ve ever taught would sigh heavily when I uttered the words ‘it depends’ as they knew they weren’t getting a short yes/no question answered!)

First, let’s look at what she’d look like from the birds eye view. Her head and hips are in the same location – all the measurements are the same as the pattern, except this time her mid section is repositioned more forward.

The finished garment will not fit as intended because the position of the measurements in relation to the others is not the same.

I use this example over and over to illustrate if a woman has a larger than a B bust cup. Commercial patterns are under the assumption that the bust on the person wearing the garment is a B bust cup. But what if you are a “D” bust cup, and you buy a pattern based on your larger fuller bust – the pattern is still not going to fit well because the pattern assumes you are the ‘regular’ snowperson all aligned in the center or ‘normal’ position, but instead your body pulls the fabric forward to cover your bust, and you are left with drag lines (lines in the garment that pull or twist and don’t look pleasing to the eye).

My long winded point in illustrating all of this is to help you learn that the ‘relationship’ of measurements next to each other is as important as the measurement itself.


How did you learn to make your bed and smooth out the wrinkles? You put on the fitted sheet and it was nice and tight and smooth, then you snap the top sheet over and it lands in soft folds on the bed. Then what? Your eyes look at the cloth and you read the wrinkles and instinctively know which corner or edge to pull to smooth it out. Fitting garments is as easy as that – read the wrinkles and smooth them out.

While I see the merit in writing books on fitting ‘methods’ and ‘techniques’ – many many of them if learned and studied and followed thru on will give you beautiful well fitting clothing – what I don’t see is having to have a Ph.D in fitting in order to enjoy garment sewing!

So, smooth the wrinkles to the edges (seams), fold out any corners, creating tucks (darts) and soon you’ll be fitting clothing as easily as making your bed.

The secret here is to not only think of the measurement at hand, but the adjacent ones. In other words, if you want to make a dress to fit the snow woman who’s middle section is forward, you need to have a piece of cloth that will not only accommodate the lower section measurements (the hip) but also take into consideration that the abdomen extends further and that must be added (see the red line on the right is slightly longer on the snow woman than the original – EVEN THOUGH THE MEASUREMENTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME)

(Another way to think about this is to picture having to wrap the snow woman in paper like a gift. When you lay the snow woman down on the paper and pass the paper over the top of her, you need to accommodate that middle piece that extends past the larger section, so you have enough paper to wrap it all up in – if you cut the paper only long enough for the longest measurement, it won’t be long enough!)

I’m obviously oversimplifying this and not giving specifics on ‘how’ to accomplish this, but my main objective is to simply open your eyes to the ‘why’ your patterns aren’t fitting even when you painfully take exacting measurements and match them to the patterns you purchase.

Here is what I tell students to have fun with: Make your bed for the next week, paying attention to your natural ability to smooth out the cloth and make it nice and flat for each layer of your bed. THEN for the next few days, throw a pillow in the center of the bed and smooth out and make folds (darts) around the pillow to make a pleasing bed that way. After that, put something tall, like your bathroom trash can in the bed, and fold and dart around that. Play with it; see what fits it and what flatters it into a nice pleasing eye. Practice gift wrapping odd shaped items for fun. Paper is not forgiving – you will learn lots of things wrapping balls, or eggs, or flat bottomed bowls etc. Start analyzing the draglines and drapes in your garments, and start smoothing them out into seams and darts to fit better. that's the end of Part 1 of Fitting with Colleen. If you have any questions or need clarification on any point, please leave it in the comments section. Colleen and I will be monitoring the comments and then will do another post to answer your questions. Please realize that this is a "starter" post on fit. No one achieves fit overnight or magically. It is something that is worked on and perfected. You just have to be willing to start and press forward until you've reached your goal...not giving up when faced with obstacles...sort of like me and invisible zippers! *LOL*

If you want to see Colleen's fitting abilities in action - these pictures are from 2004 with Colleen fitting my Uniquely You Dressform to me! The pics will only be up to the enjoy!
And as always...more later!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Guest Blogger and Betty & Veronica

That's an intriguing title isn't it!? *LOL*

First let me tell you about the guest blogger who has authored tomorrow's post on Fit. I've asked my good friend, Colleen Jones, owner of Fancy Threads to write the post. We have been friends for over 12 years now and she is the one who taught me how to fit myself. Colleen is one of the most entertaining, patient and giving teachers I've ever met. Her passion for sewing shines through each and every conversation and her love and dedication to this artform is all encompassing.

Colleen gave me my first Adele Margolis book. She taught me "seam integrity!" At every step of my sewing journey she has encouraged me and I'm so happy to call her my friend!

A short bio of her accomplishments:

Colleen has made her living over the past 20 years fitting bodies. Be that in the area of custom clothing, or in production runs of 20,000 garments – her goal is the same – flatter the body – no matter what shape it is. Working with individual clients, or such known names as Avon, Victoria’s Secret, Lane Bryant and currently with Priscilla of Boston Bridal, Ms. Jones has earned accolades from industry veterans and home sewists on her ability to not only fit garments, but to teach and help others understand how to achieve more flattering garments thru proper fit. A student once said “some people read tea leaves, Colleen reads draglines and grainlines.” Colleen is currently employed by Priscilla of Boston Bridal as a Technical Manager.

So look for her blog post on Fit tomorrow!


Now onto the Betty & Veronica reference...

picture courtesy of Archie News

When I was a little girl I loved The Archies comic books. My brother preferred super heros, Batman & Robin, The Hulk, Superman...but it was always The Archies for me. Especially Betty and Veronica...two totally politically incorrect chicks if there ever were...but those were the times and I wanted to be Betty when I grew up! Cause even then you could tell Betty was the more normal, average girl!

Now why do I mention them...because of the comments left about how quickly I knocked off the MK dress. See one of my favorite issues had Betty sewing. Veronica bought designer gear because her daddy had money. Betty sewed because she came from average middle class folks like I did. Betty would see something in a magazine or a store window and go home and make it up...usually in an afternoon. Veronica would see the same thing and head to the department store. So in this particular story, they both saw the same outfit...Betty made hers, Veronica bought hers...and they ended up walking into each other wearing it.

This issue greatly influenced my sewing. Yeap, at 11~12 I was already channeling how to make designer garments at home...I guess I've always been a fashionista at heart! *LOL* Does anyone else remember that issue? Does anyone else remember The Archies!? So that's what all of the comments about how quickly I made the dress and how I adapted it...made me think of...Betty and Veronica! *LOL*

Please come back tomorrow and check out Colleen's post! I know you will enjoy it! And always....more later!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Inspired by Michael Kors

I was so inspired by Michael Kors pre-fall line yesterday that I immediately sat down at my sewing machine and made my own version of one.

The designer original:

My version ~ headless pic of me:

On Lulu:

(Okay I really need to stop writing about getting my dressform some legs and just do it!)

Some Stats:

TNT dress pattern ~ v-neck version

1 yard white cotton/linen blend
1 yard black silk/rayon/linen blend
1/8 yard red linen
(all from the collection!)

22" white invisible zipper
1 yard white lining
1 yard black lining
1 yard white hem tape
1 yard black hem tape

I think the hardest part of making this dress was all of the times I changed the thread. I tried to sew it in an orderly fashion, but ultimately I ended up changing the thread quite often!

The other part that took some thinking about was the cutting layout. I wanted to have a white back and front and a black back and front...not something else. I ultimately ended up laying the white fabric on top of the black fabric with the right sides on the outside and facing the pattern pieces a certain way. I cut this out holding my breathe and gave a huge sigh of relief when it worked.

The dress is lined and I cut the lining out using the same cutting method as I used for the fashion fabric. I did end up sewing rayon hem tape to the bottom of the dress so I ended using a little black and a little white to insure that none of the tape showed through to the other side.

For the red band I cut a five inch piece on the crosswise grain of the fabric. Then I folded over an inch on each side and pressed flat. After the front pieces were assembled, I sewed the band down onto the front of the dress.

This is probably the best invisible zipper I've inserted. I've finally stopped feeling as if I am in an alien land during the insertion process...but I still get a lump in my chest when thinking about putting one in...I know it will get better...I just have to keep doing it especially because I know y'all must be sick of hearing about this now! *LOL*

This will be a great work dress. I look fantastic in it ~ much better than Lulu actually! The dress is slimming and comfortable and I love it! Finally on the third try I make one that I love! *LOL*

I cut out another one this afternoon and was a little annoyed that I didn't get to sew it! But isn't that a little unrealistic...I made a completely lined dress today and I'm mad at myself that I didn't get another one done...

Well it's back to work tomorrow...I'm compiling my list of supplies that I need for my sewing vacation...10 work days left! *sigh* I'm starting to get excited...

...more later!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Michael Kors, Sewing and Me!

I will admit it up front...I am fanatical about Michael Kors designs. And I'm soooooo in love with his new pre-fall and fall lines that I am beside myself. His garments are so in line with the type of sewing that I want to do this fall...

It started when I saw this suit in the new September issue of Allure Magazine:

Which then drove me to his website and to I have happily spent the morning imagining new pieces for my fall wardrobe - because you know how much I love a dress! So without further ado these are the pieces that have set my heart pitter pattering...all pics are from

The good thing about an extensive fabric collection...I already have a piece like this in it! It reminds me of
Simplicity 2868 which also resides in my pattern collection...just make short sleeves instead of long ones!

Besides the fact that I love, love, love the pairing of black and white - I'm also really diggin' all of the color blocking that he has going on!

I know that this is in a brown/black combination but I can see it in soooo many other about a gray/lilac combo or a red/black could get as dramatic as you pleased or as tonal as you wanted. Oooolalalala - the combinations you could come up with to make it your own! BTW, this wool crepe version retails for $1,995!

Is this not fresh or what!?! I love the colors MK chose for his version - I'm thinking mine could be done from similar colors using some amazing ponte knits from Marcy Tilton! Or if you want to see a less expensive RTW version of this...Dillards is offering a grey/black/white version
for $128! Because MK's version retails for $1,795!!!

Now this is my TNT sheath dress with two amazing colors and a large satin ribbon sewn down the front! I can't think of one person who wouldn't look amazing in this dress! Just pick colors you love and get to sewing!

A variation on a theme I know, but doesn't it look just as good in black and white! Some of these pieces will be making appearances in my fall/winter can they not? They are classic styles with a lot of ooomph, will work well in my corporate environment and will make this plus size mama look professional and well put together!

So what do you think? Anything here that would work for you? Or are you jonesing on another look/designer/color for fall?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays - Needles and Thread!

I still remember the first time I made something and it worked...both for my Barbie doll and for me. I remember the feeling of accomplishment and how empowering it felt. I knew that there wasn't anything I couldn't make if I put my mind to it! I also remember the awe (my own) and others when they realized that I had created something with my two hands. I was 11 years old and that's when I fell in love with this artform called sewing.

So it is very important to me to encourage new sewists! And in that vein we are going to step away from the technique questions this week and discuss some basics. Because believe it or not I've received quite a few basic sewing questions...

The first questions are from Theresa. She asks...

1) Thread - What type of thread is best for garment sewing? Quilters use 100% cotton thread for quilting because the thread will break before the fabric rips which is preferable as the repair is easier. Does this same theory apply to garment sewing? Does the type of thread depend on the the type of material?

Whew....this is a post unto itself! But since we are keeping it basic and assuming that you are just beginning to sew, I would recommend either a 100% polyester thread by Mettlers or Gutterman for garment sewing. To me these are better quality threads than Coats and Clarks and produce a superior sewn seam. (say that 3x!) However, if Coats and Clarks is all that you have available, by all means use it. I started out sewing with C&C and I made great garments using it.

I would, however, strongly caution anyone from buying and using the thread in the bargain bins! Gutterman and Mettlers use long fiber technology to ensure an even and optimum thread quality. The thread in the bins have short fibers, can be really fuzzy and doesn't feed evenly in your machine. Thus causing a lot of lint to accumulate in the crevices of your sewing machine, as well as, the thread to constantly break. It may be a cheap alternative but remember the old saw that you get what you pay for!

Threads Magazine did a great article recently called, "How Thread is Made and How it Affects Your Sewing." It's in the September 2009 issue and it's chockful of wonderful information on the process of creating thread along with how to choose the right thread for the job. There are three memorable points:

1. Don't match thread to fiber content

2. Don't rely on size alone when selecting the best thread for your project.

3. Do match your needle and thread

and finally a match the color of your thread to the colors in your project!

If you don't have a copy of this issue, please get one! It will give you a greater understanding of thread and when & how to use it. BTW, there is also a great article on pressing while sewing in this issue also called "Learn the Right Way to Press as you sew!"

Should the bobbin thread be the same brand & type & color as the top thread? Does the quality of thread vary greatly with price?

Personally I find that I get a better stitch quality and seam when I use the same thread in the bobbin and in the machine. I rarely mix threads unless I need a different color for the top and the bottom of the garment. Now of course there are exceptions to this rule but we are going with the very basics here.

As for quality and price - please refer to the portion above about bargain thread versus regular priced thread! There is a difference!!!

2) Machine needles - I very rarely change my sewing machine needle 'cause I forget that it should be done. How often do you recommend changing the needle and what needle size is best for garment sewing?

Ohhhhh I'm getting ready to seriously burst your bubble. Please, please, please change your needle IMMEDIATELY! I change my needle after every project. Especially since I don't sew the same type of fabric from garment to garment. You want to achieve the best stitch quality so you need to use the right needle for your fabric. Also during the course of sewing a needle can get nicks, the point can become dull or the needle can develop burrs...these conditions will affect the stitches your machine another reason to change your needle often.

As you may or may not know, needles come in sizes. Each size is to be used with a specific fabric type. The smaller the number of the needle, the finer the fabric.

Then there are also different types of needles:

Sharps - have a sharp point for piercing fabric - comes in sizes 60/8 through 120/20 and used for heavyweight or densely woven fabrics. Also good for decorative topstitching.

Universal - has a somewhat rounded tip for piercing fabric - comes in sizes 60/8 through 120/20 - used with all types of fabric

Ballpoint - has a rounded tip and used primarily with knits.

Twin or double needles - Are two needles attached to one shank and usually has a distance between the two needls from 1.6 to 6mm. These are used for decorative stitching and hems.

There are also Wing, Topstitching, Denim/Jeans and needles for stitching on leather.

Needle sizes:

For a wonderful explanation of needle sizes - what the numbers mean and what types of fabric they should be used to has a great article about it here. If you want a chart that you can print out and put near your sewing machine - try this one. And finally a few tips from the book, "The Experts' Book of Sewing Tips & Techniques."

Coats & Clarks recommends the 8-hour rule. They suggest that a good sewing machine needle is only good for about 8 hours of sewing and should be changed after 8 hours.

C&C also recommends keeping your needles clean by removing fabric finishes that can build up on a sewing machine needle resulting in skipped stitches. To clean the needle use a cotton ball with oil, detergent or a cleaning solvent. Sew a line of stitches on a scrap piece of fabric before using the "clean" needle in your good fabric to remove any leftover residue.

*Personally I've just used a little alcohol on a cotton ball to remove any fusible interfacing or gook from my needle and this has worked fine. But that's what I do!*

C&C also advises you to discard any needle that is less than perfect because you don't want it to snag your fabric.

Finally can I add some "Carolynisms"

1. Keep a supply of Universal needles in all sizes on hand so that you never run out in the middle of the night.

2. Keep thread in a dust-free environment to prevent lint issues as well as maximizing it's shelf life.

3. Thread does have a shelf life. If your grandma gives you some thread from 25 years ago, check it carefully because it may cause problems in your sewing machine.

4. Discard needles carefully and if you happen to break one while sewing, make sure that you retrieve all of the pieces from your sewing machine. One small piece or shard can do some serious damage to your sewing machine.

Okay that's it for today! I really hope you've learned something or at least you will pick up the Threads Magazine referenced. The floor is now open...any comments, suggestions or questions are welcomed! Also if you have another reference (internet, book or magazine), please feel free to share it. Personally I believe the more information shared ~ the better!

Next week for New Sewists Thursdays - there will be a guest blogger who will do a two-part series on "How to Fit." Since September is National Sewing Month, some of the topics featured for New Sewists Thursday will be on picking a pattern for your size, some more fabric information - of course! - and another detailed post on a technique.

As always...more later!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is it Friday yet?

Why do the weeks preceeding your vacation just drag by? Why do those days seem to be the longest ones, evah!? And why do we waste our precious time wishing for days to fly by? Or am I the only one thinking that way?!!!

Today during a meeting when I should have been taking notes and concentrating on the subject at hand, I instead found myself writing paragraphs about sewing issues that were swirling around in my brain...

1. Vintage Patterns
I now own alot of them! So much so that I'm not even visiting the vintage pattern sites because I'm scared that I will find something I like! *LOL* Quite a few new ones have managed to find their way to my house and haven't even been photographed and put in my flickr album. I need to find some time to do that!

2. The Pumpkin Seed Collection
It just does not seem to be getting out of the starting blocks?! I don't know if its because I've had so many social engagements this month or if I'm waiting until vacation to sew...*sigh* Its such a great collection of garments and several are banging up against the forefront of my brain demanding to come into existence.

3. Project Runway starts tomorrow night
To say that I'm excited just does not do my feelings justice! I tried Bravo's new show, "The Fashion Show" but I didn't like it! I can't wait for Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina to come you know where I'll be tomorrow evening! *LOL*

4. Sheath Dresses
Even though the last one did not wear as well as I expected, I still have ideas for like 6 or 7 more! I can see them in all colors and patterns in my head for fall. They are so easy to wear and make me look professional without alot of effort...and they showcase jewelry so well!!! I have all I need on hand to make them...I just need more sewing time! Every sewists lament right?!

5. My Fabric Closet
Is haunting me...I see it in my dreams! That's because it needs to be refolded and reworked! Fabric is everywhere in my apartment and in no particular order...but when I think of dragging everything out, refolding, rethinking it and putting it back into the closet...I get a headache! It will take days to accomplish this task and I'm not quite ready to give up precious sewing days to do this. However, it is on my list and slowly moving up to the top!

So is it Friday yet? I want to sew! *sigh* Yes, even after the last outing I still want to spend quality time with my sewing machine...and as always, more later!

Monday, August 17, 2009

In and Out Pictures...

So here are the pictures...

"The Dress Alone"

"With the Lacy Cardigan"

Wearability Factor:

I love dresses made from cotton sateen with a little lycra in them. They are usually made with the brightest colors in the best prints, but wearing this one around today I remembered why I rarely make dresses from this type of fabric...

*after wearing all day they stretch - so if you've already got alot of fabric in a dress - there's even more!

*I had to wear a half slip with this to stop it from clinging to me and my Spanx!

*And after sitting in it a few hours, I had a "butt print"....ummm not an attractive look when leaving a meeting.

However, I wasn't burning up in "the heatwave" when I went outside today...and I wasn't freezing when I was in the it did have some good points.

But I feel like I'm two for two in the "meh" department because I don't LOVE either one of the last two dresses I've made. I think I need to just take a time out from sewing! Me thinks that I'm so invested in my September vacation sewing that I'm just NOT getting it right now...*sigh*

Sunday, August 16, 2009

In and Out

The title refers to the fabric in this rendition of my TNT dress pattern. It came into the house on Friday evening and I'm wearing it out to work tomorrow!

It's a standard sleeveless sheath made from a fabulous print from my TNT dress pattern. The only change is that instead of my regular u-neckline, I gave it a v-neckline. This is the first time that I've made this dress with a v-neckline.

Since my pattern drafting skills aren't as fine honed as my embellishment skills, I laid the v-neck front pattern piece from Simplicity 8160 on to the top of my TNT dress front. I then traced out the new front pattern piece and I also used the front facing from the vintage Simplicity pattern. I added some white piping around the neckline to give it a little definition...not my best piping job but it will do in this instance!

It really was a quick sew especially since the fabric did not require a lining except for *sigh* the invisible zipper insertion. I was almost tempted to pull out a regular black zipper and sew it into the dress in 30 minutes or less but I will never become proficient at inserting invisible zippers until I do it repeatedly. Now I did remember to press it very flat, to baste it down before the final stitches were sewn and to use my cording foot for stitching as close to the coils as possible. So except for the fact that this is still not automatic and mindless sewing, I was pleased with how it turned out.

I added bias binding to the armholes to finish them and machine stitched them down. The hem is also machine stitched. As I said previously, this was a quick and dirty sew for an "In and Out" dress.

Sorry for the flat of me wearing the dress soon especially since I plan on wearing it to work tomorrow!

As always....more later.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Middle of the month ramblings...

It's the 15th of the month and I've completed one garment...just one! How is that?! *LOL* I have been alot more social this month but this weekend I just want to burrow in and stay home with my sewing machines, my magazines (yes the September Fall Fashion Issues have started to arrive in my mailbox) and finish off a novel I'm reading.

So these are just bits and pieces things that have been rambling through my mind this week:

1. Another refashion of a skirt

I wore this skirt with one of the white Butterick 4980 jackets last week and it bothered me.

The border that I added to the hem when I cut it last year was just too I wrapped the border around the 5/8" seam allowance and stitched it down. Then I cut it off! I'm much happier with it now!

I love Michael Kors garments. He is one of my favorite how come I didn't realize that he had his own website! Yeah, I wasted a few hours there this week looking at fall fashions when I had to work the reception desk. I...HATE...WORKING...the receptionists desk! *LOL* But at least flipping through the site made it a little less onerous!

Okay, I know change is good. I understand the need for allows us to grow and get better...but this website is NOT better AT ALL! Ummm, could you have kept some of the features I the "New Patterns" button. I don't go into the website to find just one particular thing...I wanna see what's new! Can we bring that back please? And I'm just not going to say anything about all that other junk that's up on the "Pattern Website" Nope I'm just not going to speak on it...

Speaking of websites...when is this one going to be done! *sigh* I need a fix and there haven't been any new arrivals on this site in over 2 weeks! Don't they know that this is where I go to take a break when work is a little too stressful or overwhelming. Folks I'm teetering here...bodily harm could befall someone! *LOL* Seriously, they need to get this together...okay...I just surfed over as I was writing this one and the new site is up! Thank the Lord! I'm fine now...I will be okay...I just have to sit here patiently waiting for them to refill it...

5. Fabric Shopping

I went to Metro Textiles yesterday. I've been having a bad work week and as you just read online fabric shopping was doing nuthin' for me! *LOL* So I went to see my favorite fabric vendor in the garment district and he didn't disappoint. I only bought 12 yards...breathe Lindsay, breathe...but I got the most amazing gray wool. This is a pic of it with the rayon lining I bought for it...

This stuff is smooth with a tight weave and a wonderful hand! Ah it soothed a weary soul I tell you, yes it did! I also bought 2 black and white knits - one with a border print. I kept one (the border print) and shared one with my daughter. I also bought a black/white/green graphic print in a cotton sateen which is in the wash right now. Hopefully it will become a sheath dress this weekend. I'm going back to basics...that last dress was *sigh* a disappointment so back to what I do best!

6. Blog Reading

I read alot of blogs. Even if I'm not a follower, I still read them weekly. I don't always leave a comment...even though I am a comment 'ho myself but I'm always around. So it was fun to surf into Cindy's blog this morning and find an entire set of links to sewing articles. You need to go over and check this out! It was fun reading about how sewing is making a resurregence all around the country!

Okay that's it...the fabric is in the dryer book is calling me and I do want to sew today! So hopefully a finished garment in my next post...

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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays - Sewing Sheers

It's Thursday again and time to share another new sewist's question:

Tanya asked...

"I’m pretty much a newbie when it comes to garment sewing, but I’m filled with ideas and excitement about the possibilities. Right now, I’m working on a dress for a friend’s daughter (Vogue for Me 7681, view A, but modified to be shorter and have a separate sash). My friend bought the fabric, which is a polyester chiffon for the overskirt, and what is supposed to be peau de soie for the actual skirt and bodice, but isn’t. It looks more like cheap lining material. In any case, the fabric is a flimsy, slippery mess that is giving me fits; it’s difficult to cut pieces properly, it stretches all over the place, and is generally uncooperative. Even basting it is tricky. Do you have any tips for working with slippery fabrics?"

So since my sewing friend Gigi has been sewing with sheers alot lately, I asked her to handle the question for me! If you don't already know Gigi as one of The Sewing Divas or as the author of her own blog, Behind the Seams...she kindly gave me a little background:

Gigi has enjoyed sewing and needlework since childhood. By the time she was in high school, she was completely addicted and hasn't stopped since. She sews every chance she gets and, when she isn't sewing, she enjoys collecting beautiful fabrics, sewing books, patterns and sewing machines (with a particular passion for industrials!). Her Sewing Empire is located in South Florida where she lives with her three kitties.

I would like to thank Gigi for so graciously accepting my offer to be a guest blogger and then taking the time to answer Tanya's without further ado Tanya here is Gigi's advice....

Sheer, slippery fabrics can be intimidating for even the most experienced sewist! The first battle is cutting out the fabric because it wants to slither all over the place.

To make your fabric behave:

*Tape examining table paper or old newspaper (so the ink doesn't rub off on your fabric) to your cutting surface. Pin your fabric to the paper and cut through both the paper and fabric layers. A bonus will be duplicate pattern pieces which can be used as templates for staystitching. Simply pin the fabric to the pattern, staystitch, then tear the paper away. This will ensure that the fabric retains it's intended shape and size.

*If you're using a rotary cutter, simply tape your fabric to the mat before laying out your pattern pieces with weights. Be sure to use a new blade so that you get very clean cuts.

*It may seem silly, but gently blowing on sheers as you lay them out is an easy way to get everything lined up.

*If your fabric is washable, use spray starch to give it body and make it more manageable.

*Since the right and wrong side are often indiscernable, I like to put a small piece of tape on the wrong side so that I don't accidentally end up with two left sleeves!

Seams and Hems:

Because seams will show through to the right side, they should be narrow and neat. Good seam choices are:

*French seam

*Flat-felled seam (great for crisp sheers)

*Narrow overlocked.

The overlocked seam is not my favorite but it's fine when you want something fast and easy. For better wear, I would stitch with my regular machine and then trim down the seam allowances to 1/4" with the overlock.

I like to use a fine Microtex needle for sheers along with a fine thread such as Coats & Clark Fine. It's not a true necessity but it does give a very nice result. Because sheers and silkies can be very unruly, it's especially important to sew directionally.

As a rule, hems should be either very narrow (rolled) or very wide (double-folded).

It’s also possible to simply bind the hem. Narrow rolled hem:

Hem finished with bias binding:


Silk organza is my interfacing of choice. Look for one that's close to the color of your skin. Depending on the fabric you are using, you may also be able to use self-fabric. Interfacing can be basted in or (as I prefer) held in place with a few dots of glue stick in the seam allowances.

Shopping for Fabric:

I prefer to work with either silk or rayon sheers. They drape beautifully and are a joy to work with. If this is your first time with sheers I recommend you stick with natural fibers. Yet, sometimes I am seduced by a pretty polyester print. Polys are more difficult to work with as they tend to pucker and are more difficult to press well. Breathability is also a factor. To check for breathability simply blow through the fabric. If you can feel your breath on the other side you are safe. Generally, poly georgettes and open-weaves are your best bet.

Pattern Selection:

My favorite type of garment for sheer fabric is, by far, a blouse. I look for styles with clean, simple lines. If a garment has facings, you’ll want to replace them with bias binding or a very narrow rolled hem. Shirt plackets work best if they are cut on and self-interfaced. I also love garments with tucks of any size, which look absolutely beautiful in sheer fabrics. Of course, dresses and skirts are also a possibility but will need to be either lined or partially lined.

Tucks on a white crinkled silk:

Here are some nice current patterns that would work well with sheer fabrics:

Simplicity 6891

Some sheer garments from my closet:

Silk ribbon chiffon wrap blouse. Here, I've finished the neckline with a very narrow rolled hem:

Silk chiffon peasant blouse. Hem is narrow rolled and the sleeves and front edge are finished with bias binding.

Silk organza "jean" jacket

So questions? Anything you don't understand or need clarification on? Please feel free to post your questions and like last week, I will post another blog post with answers or clarifications!

I really hope that not only the new sewists but some of us more experienced sewists are enjoying this series. I know that I've learned a thing or two! *smile* I would like to thank Gigi for so graciously sharing her knowledge and all the wonderful pictures of her garments! Please visit Gigi on her blog where she shares all of her sewing adventures.

Next week you will be stuck with me again! *LOL* But the end of the month will see another guest blogger discussing how to attain the best fit! So stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Vogue 8596 - "The Dress"

The risk I run as a plus size woman when making a dress with very few seams is the possibility that I can inadvertantly make a muu-muu. I know that seams are my friend. They add structure to a garment and a slimmer appearance to my body. Let me tell you turning this top into a dress effectively makes it a muu-muu...judge for yourself:

However, in hot, humid, soupy weather, I don't want tailored and/or structured. I want loose flowing and easy to wear. So there is a tight rope to walk...

I took a chance with this various times during its construction I wondered if I had ruined a beautiful piece of silk. And I also realized why I use TNT patterns so sewing time is limited and like everyone else I only want sewing successes...

So here are the stats:

100% silk from Metro Textiles
Ambiance lining from Elegant Fabrics

4 yards of yellow netting

I'm going to make the construction info short and sweet...

*The pattern is very easy to sew - even beginners could make this tunic/dress.

*I made very few changes to the pattern - normal inches added to sleeve bicep area, a pivot and slide technique on the front pattern piece to add 2" to the front of the dress, and of course length was added to the bottom of the pattern pieces to take it from tunic length to dress length.

*I added a lining. The silk is pretty but sheer so a lining was needed.

And one additional concern - this neckline is made from a sew-on casing. If you pull the drawstring tighter, the entire dress rises up. The hemline...the sleeves...everything. If you use a more relaxed neckline everything settles down a little better. Because of this I added the inch and a half of netting to the hemline (shades of Moschino, Lindsay!)

If you tie a bow at the neckline you don't have to worry about how deep the v-neck opening in the casing is...because it is totally hidden by the bow. But I would be careful because the v-neck opening is shades of BWOF deep!

Finally, in my opinion this is a knock-off of the Tom & Linda Platt Vogue Dress (which I successfully made un-muu-muu like). It's an okay knock-off but the elastic casing on the neckline of the Tom & Linda Platt dress is a more secure and flattering neckline. I can tell you that I won't use this pattern again...not for a top, tunic or a dress...however, I will remake the Tom & Linda Platt dress!

Okay I'm not sure that this dress will get much wear...or worn at all...I just wanted new sewists to see that not everything a more seasoned sewist creates turns out perfectly...sometimes it's just "meh!" always more later!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Dueling Patterns - Part II

The comments left on the last post about the dueling patterns from Simplicity and Butterick have been very interesting...

So Friday evening after work, since I was meeting a friend and needed to waste some time, I headed to the Borders Bookstore in the Time Warner Center hoping they would have a copy of the newly published book, "Isabel Toledo: Fashion From The Inside Out." Of course, they didn't so I've ordered a copy from Amazon. But I did stumble across this cute and inexpensive book, "Michelle Obama - First Lady of Fashion and Style" by Susan Swimmer.

The book is now in my possession because it has such great pics of Michelle's outfits. Now I know almost all of the pictures in the book can be found on the internet, printed out and stored, but why go to all of that trouble when this handy little book does it for me. There are some interesting candid shots of the Inauguration dress without the long coat...and from what I can see...the dress DOES have princess seams. So in that regard the Butterick pattern is truer to the original dress than the Simplicity pattern.

Then Debbie Cook posted a link to a picture of both the front and back of the outfit...

Photo from

This proves that both patterns did not capture the essence of the back of the jacket...and Ann I wonder if the seams are so detailed on the jacket back because of the width of the fabric as you suggested.

Updated to include photo from Phyllis which outlines the actual seam lines in the back of the jacket!

Now I know that very few of us have access to the same type of fabric used in the original outfit...but whatever fabric we choose to will give us a little more freedom and creative licensing when making our own version. However, it has been extremely least to examine the two patterns design so closely and to imagine how I will make my own version of this momentous outfit!

Next time I will cry less and examine the details more! *LOL* One final note...we all noticed the Inauguration Outfit (maybe because it soooooo resembled the original styling!) but none of us mentioned that Butterick also did a riff on the Jacket/Skirt outfit that Michelle Obama wore to the Concert on the Mall the Sunday before Inauguration Day...

Butterick's Version:

Michelle Obama's Actual Outfit

Finally I succumbed...I did purchase the Butterick pattern mainly because of the lowered seamline on the jacket front and the Club BMV price of $4.27! *LOL* Patterns are still on sale through midnight tonight CST. I also bought the wardrobe pattern pictured now between the four patterns I can come up with my own version of Michelle Obama's wardrobe.

Well I'm off to Vogue dress is calling my name! I have no plans for the weekend except a brunch tomorrow...and if I use my time wisely, I may have not one dress but two dresses to show! Hope springs eternal! *LOL*

As always...more later!


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