Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vogue 1127 - More Sleeve Pattern Alteration Info.

There were a couple of questions in the last post about the alterations I made to the sleeves.

Janima the Mom Beast asked,
"I was interested to learn how you give more ease for the upper arm, as I always have to do the same. your method is the one I use-- but don't you add the corresponding increase to the bodice underarm side seam?"

First here is a pic of the alteration I did to the side seams of the pattern piece:

Second, I made this alteration because the normal alteration I make to the sleeve pattern involves putting a seam down the center of the pattern piece, increasing at the bicep area and decreasing back to the seam line.  An example of it can be seen here.  I guess I could have cut the dart apart and made a seam.  However, I like the dart detail so I don't want to lose it.  So I had to come up with an alternate option.

Now to answer Janima's adding width to the sleeve sides in the bicep area has nothing to do with the bodice side seams.  Once you sew the sleeve side seams together, the sleeve is inserted into the jacket.  The instructions from the pattern sheet are below so that you can see the raglan insertion.

So the jacket side seam is not affected at all by increasing the side seams of the sleeve.  And that is not only in this specific case but in every alteration I do for the sleeves.  The area you do have to be careful of affecting is the sleeve cap.  I make no alterations to my sleeve cap AT ALL!

Tracy I hope this also helped you with the visuals...please make sure you click the link to the other post because there are pics there that detail how to make the other alterations that I make to my sleeve pattern to increase the width at the bicep. 

And one more disclaimer...this is the way I handle the alterations.  They work for me.  I have learned them through trial and error and may not be in any of the fitting books that are presently on the take them with a grain of a salt! *smile*

I stopped to take a lunch break and saw the above question so I thought I would answer it sooner rather than later...back to the machines!!!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Vogue 1127 - Part 2 - Pattern Alterations & Prep

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've already made the alterations to my pattern pieces.  The one thing I do love about today's patterns is that the finished width is printed on the front pattern pieces so you can use that as a starting point for determining how your garment will fit.

Pattern Alterations:
The first alteration I always make is to the sleeve pattern.  It is rare when a sleeve has enough space for my very bodacious biceps.  Since this pattern goes up to a size 20 and that is what I'm starting with...the finished width for the biceps is 17 3/4".  I need 18-19" for comfort.  So I added width to both sides starting at the underarm seam and adding 1/2" at the bicep area through the sleeve and tapering back to the seamline at the sleeve hem.

To both the front and back pieces as well as the front facings, I added 3" at the lengthen/shorten line on the pattern.  And to the front pattern piece I added 1/2" to the hemline by gradually widening the pattern from the underarm seam at the side seam.  I also added an inch to the front band and moved the center front line over to accomodate the added width.  Since you place the back piece on the fold, I will use the pivot and slide technique to add a 1/2"  at the center back hemline that way.

I increased the collar by one inch to accomodate the change to the front pattern piece.  I also added an inch to the front facing piece for the same reason.  Then I re-measured all of the pieces, omitted the 5/8" seam allowances to determine if my new measurements would fit my body measurements as well as the amount of ease I like in a jacket.  As of now, my calculations appear correct, so I will cut the fashion fabric after it's pre-treated.

Pre-treating the Fabric:
Even though this is a cotton blend fabric and I should be able to wash and dry it...I am concerned about removing the "shine" of the fabric.  So I'm going to load the steam generator with water and steam the heck out of this piece.  I believe that this should be sufficient for pretreating the fabric.

Pattern Instructions:
Since I've never made this jacket before and the reviews on PR did not heartily endorse this pattern, I did spend quite a bit of time reading the instructions.  I've already noted where I'm going to make some changes.

One, since I'm making my own bias binding using the pattern piece supplied by Vogue, I noticed that nowhere in the instructions does it tell you to mark the lines on the pattern piece prior to cutting it out.  Ummm, I know this is a general fact but seriously it could be reiterated.  Also, for making the binding it tells you to iron down a 1/4" on either side of the binding.  Now most of us know that you can use a bias binder maker for this job...why wouldn't the patterns instruct you to use one?  I can just see some poor sewist burning his or her fingers while they tried to iron down 1/4" on either side...*sigh*

Lining the sleeves:
The pattern instructs you to baste the lining and the sleeve together, then after the sleeve is sewn into the jacket to hem the sleeves.  Okay that's one way...but I think I'm going to use the Nancy Zieman method ~ the lining and fashion fabric are sewn together at the hemline. Then the side seam is sewn and the lining is flipped inside. I just have to insure that none of the lining fabric hangs from the bottom of the sleeve.  This method allows the hem to be sewn before the sleeve is placed into the jacket.  Cleaner and easier.

Since I've added three inches to the length of the jacket, I will add some more buttons to the front of the jacket as well as one to the collar.  I don't understand why there isn't one there already!  The jacket presently has 3 buttons...I'm thinking 5 or 6.  Speaking of buttons, I want to use a silvery nickel type which I have in the button collection. 

For the buttonholes, I'm thinking about making corded buttonholes.  The fabric is a little busy and I think that by adding some cording to the buttonholes it will provide them with a little more oomph.  I will have to make a few samples to see if this will work or not.

Otherwise, I'm ready and will go into "sewing mode" in the morning...I..CAN'T...WAIT!

Friday, September 25, 2009

My next project ~ "A Wearable Muslin"

I've wanted to make Vogue 1127 since I first saw it in the Vogue Pattern Magazine.  Originally I planned to make this from my fashion fabric combo but after seeing Barbara's version, I knew I had to work on this outfit sooner rather than later!

My next stop was to check Patternreview to see if anyone had used the pattern.  But I have to tell you that I was a little disappointed by the two reviews of the pattern.  However, I did read all of their comments and double checked them with Barbara's blogpost, where btw, she mentions none of the reviewers issues.

So I pulled my pattern pieces out last night and preceded to start the alteration process. I won't detail them all here now but I had a very relaxed evening just altering the pattern pieces.  Since I mainly want to try out the jacket first...because if it doesn't work what will be the sense of making the other pieces...I will admit that I added three inches to the length of the jacket.  This is a kewl short boxy jacket.  But I don't want it to make me look kewl, fat and plump!  Therefore, it had to be lengthened...not too long to take away from the original design but long enough to be flattering on me.  I will make another sleeveless sheath dress to accompany this jacket.

This is my fabric ~ a Doubleside Dotted Italian Cotton from EOS:

I will use a rayon midweight lining fabric and will incorporate some of the issues that the PR reviewers referenced.  First being that only the sleeves are lined in the jacket.  The seams are HK finished.  Even though I loved how Barbara HK finished her jacket, mine will be underlined with the lining and then the seams will be HK finished.  Very similar to the way I finished the interior of the Butterick 4980 jacket.

Another point of contention in the reviews was the dart that formed the top of the sleeve.  Since I've used this technique before for the Butterick 4980 jackets, I'm sure I will be able to handle this and make it work.

I was going to run down to the garment district today to pick up some gray satin bias binding from Daytona Trimmings to use for the HK finishing, even though the pattern does have a great piece for making your own bias binding in the pattern.  Well my day job precluding me making the trip and saving the I will be using the pattern piece with the lining fabric and making my own bias binding.

Work will start on the jacket this weekend and I'm pretty excited about it.  I have some errands to do tomorrow but I'm gonna bury myself in the process on Sunday!  Finally, this version will be my "wearable muslin" before I cut into my fashion fabric and make "The Elegant Fall" version...but I really believe that my wardrobe can stand two of these jackets! always, more later!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

New Sewists Thursdays is back!

Yes, I've finally gotten around to writing another New Sewists Thursdays post!  However, this post is a collection of information aimed at answering two specific questions.  The first question is from Elizabeth,

"I need a little encouragement. I am despairing that I will never reach tnt status with any pattern. Let me preface this with the fact that I am known for being a little impatient. Ok, a lot impatient. I know the fitting process is necessary but sheesh could it be a little faster please? Any helpful hints for us beginners that are not straight out of the envelope gals?"

I've written extensively on my blog about my journey with TNT patterns.  But the number one thing you must realize about tried and true patterns is that you HAVE to sew that pattern a multiple of times to end up with a well fitting garment and a TNT pattern.  You must be willing to wear the garment, figure out what you want to improve and then tweak your pattern.  And you must make it again and again...especially if you are not a wear it out of the envelope girl...oops person!  This is a process...sort of like a long distance marathon...not a sprint!  You may find immediate success with one loop around the track or you may need to run numerous loops around the track before you are satisfied with your final garment but in no way is this a sprint!

Here are the links to the previous posts:

The series on how my TNT Dress Pattern came to be is in three parts - Part One, Part Two, Part Three

Would you please TNT with me? - is about the reasons to develop a TNT pattern

This post details the list with a brief description of each one of my TNT patterns - 12 on a Desert Island

Various garments are detailed in some of the posts that I've labeled TNT posts.  You can scan through the search to read specific posts on construction or not!  *LOL*  I have to admit that TNT patterns are my thing!  Everyone has some specific sewing techniques that they are good at...this is mine.  Each person finds their own in their sewing journey but I believe that all sewists can develop a TNT pattern.

Okay next...

Karen asks, "I'm actually not a new sewist. I've been sewing for quite some time, but I'm new to knits. I desperately want to learn to sew knits, but I am afraid! I don't know where to start. I don't know what pattern to start with and what type of fabric to use. I have a serger and a regular machine with zigzag capabilities. Any suggestions/guidance would be appreciated!"

First, Claire who authors the blog, "" has written an amazing series of blog posts on fabrics which I think is a must read for anyone new to sewing or just getting back into sewing.  You can read her posts here!  They are detailed, include illustrations and should be bookmarked!

There are also several really good books that I would recommend you borrow or buy to learn how to work with fabrics and knits in particular.  They are:

Specific to knits:  The Stretch & Sew Guide to Sewing on Knits by Ann Person
Sewing with Knits, Classic Stylish Garments from Swimsuits to Eveningwear by Connie Long

General fabric books:  Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide and
Fabric Savvy and More Fabric Savvy by Sandra Betzina.

But Karen didn't ask about books did she...she wanted tips!  And after Lindsay's post today...I'm sure more of you are wondering if you can make knits work?!

So my tips...because I've sewn quite a few knit garments...

1.  Choose your knit fabric carefully.
I am really, really picky about what knit fabrics I work with...most of my garments are made from a knit with a little lycra in them...rayon/lycra knits being my favorite.  Now this is for closer fitting garments.  I've used more sweatery knits for cardigans.

2.  Stabilize key seams
I always, always, always stabilize the shoulder seams with twill tape, rayon hem tape or the selvedge edge of a woven garment.  I don't want them sagging from the pulling on and off or the day-to-day wearing.

3.  Use the correct needle and thread for the garment
Both Claire and Sandra's books give detailed information on what type of needle, thread and length to set on your sewing machine to use with knits.

4.  Learn to use the best techniques that you can! 
Again I'm going to refer to the books referenced above.  I read and sewed based upon the information gleamed from the books above.  You will be amazed at how many little tips you pick up!  Or if you are a more visual learner try Nancy's Notions..."Sew & Go Knits DVD".  She offers her show online at Sewing with NancyTV.  If you click Nancy's Favorites, there are two shows on Knits - Easy Fit, Easy Sew that you can watch at home at your convenience on your computer!

5.  Keep working with the garment until you get the fit you want! 
Oh drat there I go again not encouraging quick and fast results!  *LOL*  But seriously, how do you know what works for you if you don't experiment and then try again when something doesn't work?  Remember my earlier analogy a marathon...not a sprint!

Now a few disclaimers...being a plus size girl and liking a looser more relaxed fit, I don't have some of the stretch and recovery issues that someone desiring a closer fit might have. My garments typically don't lay right against my skin as many of the tees and tops that most women/men sew.  Let me emphasize again that this is my preference.  I don't like overfitted, too tight tops or dresses...they make me uncomfortable, however, someone else may be more comfortable.  So I tend to treat knits like wovens...the point is for them to glide over my body but have a little more stretch than a typical woven.

I also only sew a few types of knit garments...cardigans, loose fitting tees, tanks and dresses.  You have yet to see me make a wrap dress...can't figure out how to make one without looking like there is a war going on beneath the dress in the back!  I haven't made one of those wrapped/knotted front tops that are everywhere...another popular sew.  My pieces are more classic in nature and I've been sewing them for years.  BUT, I've had my share of disasters, oops and garbage pitches...again, you just have to get up dust yourself off and try something new.  Or if you truly don't want to work with knits...let it go!  There are so many other things to sew and adventures to's a personal decision.

Can I also note here that I've been sewing since I was 11 years old and that I've learned much of what I know through books, TV series, videos and DVDs and from a few sewing classes that I've taken.  The reason I emphasize books and sewing shows is because I've learned so much from them. 
Sorry that this post has been more of an encouragement post than one chock full of information...but sometimes I think that's what we sewists need!  A pat on the back...a word or two of encouragement, understanding and support...and a shove back into the game!

Please continue to send questions to me for future blog posts...and I will share my next finished project with you soon!

...more later!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Piece or Two

I've spent most of the morning, the afternoon and the evening switching over know most people move their clothing around...summer clothing out of the closet and into the spare closet in the attic or the basement and their winter clothing in but not their fabric.  Then again most people don't have as much fabric hanging around as I do...*sigh*

I love my fabric closet really I do!  It's just that today after spending some real quality time with it and seeing just how much fabric I actually own...*sigh*...I mean I have a lot!  Okay honestly more than a lot!  I realize that now and in the near future, I have no business buying another anyone wanting to meet me in the garment just ain't happening!  *LOL*  The first thing they tell recovering addicts is to stay away from temptation...and I need to be staying away...far away!

Yesterday afternoon I was really gloaming on these two knits from Emmaonesock:

Wouldn't this one go great with both my green and pumpkin dresses!

And wouldn't this one work amazingly well with the pumpkin dress and then all of the brown pieces currently in my wardrobe!

Well neither one of them will be coming to my house now!  Because I already have some pretty awesome sweater knit pieces from EOS, as well as, some amazing ones from a few other internet fabric sites!

Since it took all day to jam fabrics that had been lying around my living room and bedroom into the fabric closet and switch over bins from spring/summer to fall/winter, there was no sewing going on here...and can I say yet again there won't be any shopping going on around here either!

This is what the pile in the bedroom looks like now:

And this is what the pile in the living room looks like now:

Finally, I am relieved to be done!  It went a little quicker before I started watching E's Red Carpet coverage for the Emmys...but I'm done...I'm contrite and I need to schedule a few more days off to sew!  Because at the rate I'm presently sewing, my grandchildren will need to sew along with me to get this collection down!

And a parting shot:

My daughter rooting around in the closet trying to claim the best pieces for herself! *LOL*  Actually she lightened the closet's load by 20 yards...a mere raindrop during a torrential downpour! always more later!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

I'm a copycat!

The October issues of the fashion magazines have been on the newsstands in NYC all week.  I know because they've been taunting me as I've walked by them daily.  And every evening I've come home and opened my mail box with much anticipation expecting them and they haven't been there.  Some days there's barely been anything inside and for a girl that loves mail...its devastating!

Last night, however, there were quite a few of the October issues waiting for me!  I won't bore you with how many magazines I subscribe to (Let's just be thankful that the mailman drives a truck!  BTW, do mailmen walk around and delivery mail anymore?) it's cheaper and easier tho' to subscribe than to truck magazines home on the bus with me.

So back to the magazines that arrived...InStyle - one of my personal favorites - showed up last night!  And it is a wonderful issue...especially because they had two sections that are near and dear to my heart.  One - an entire piece with photos on Michelle Obama's style.  I love how she dresses.  It is a clean, concise style using a lot of color to accent her personality but without frou-frou.  It works so well in corporate environments - I'm sure because she came from one - and her wardrobe showcases her figure.  Now while I don't have a Michelle Obama figure...I will never have those arms without surgery and leaving my day job to work on them...I can copy it!

Here are the pics from the article, "Power Dressing" InStyle Magazine (October 2009):

Dresses and coats

Bold Cardigans

Bright Sheaths

Textured Skirts

Key Accessories

The other article was about home sewing.  First Vogue Magazine and now InStyle!  You can tell the economy is in a recession because when was the last time you picked up a fashion magazine and they had a two page spread on home sewing!  Yeah...I know!  The article is called "Project Disaster" with the tag, "Are Home Ec sewing skills and a 10-year-old machine equal to the task of creating a three-piece designer outfit?  Columnist Faye Penn puts her fearless foot to the pedal"  It is a very funny article about someone diving back into sewing after a hiatus...a must read for anyone returning to sewing.  You will find you are not alone!

Anyway...pick up a copy of this month's is full of wonderful yet useful fashion advice...a homage to the sewist contingency...and just a very fun issue.  I do have two ideas as a starting point for this weekend's sewing adventure.  Neither one of them are instant gratification sewing...boy, I'm missing last week more than you know!  But both of them are pounding at my brain and insisting that they be released!  So  updates later!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

An Apology and some of this and some of that

First, let me apologize for the lack of a New Sewist Thursdays post!  It's been a long week at work and I just couldn't get it together to write a I apologize and New Sewist Thursdays will reappear next week!

Next, I spent an awesome evening last night with Elizabeth who writes the blog, "Sew a Beginner"  The great thing about it is that no fabric shopping was involved just two women having dinner and discussing their passion.  Elizabeth gives all the details, here!

What follows next are some thoughts I had over the week I was in sewing heaven...can you tell it's been a long week at work!  *LOL*

~Why do I line everything?  Because as a plus size woman I hate wearing a lot of layers under my clothing.  If a dress or skirt is lined it slides right over my Spanx and I don't need to wear anything else under it.  And let's not even talk about the fact that lining actually lengthens the life of a garment!

I read somewhere the other day, someone asking why do people line their garments and is it necessary?  The question stuck with me and of course rumbled through my mind as I sat and sewed.  

~When I'm sewing for long stretches of time...I get even more ideas for the garments I'm working on.  It's like being deep into the process gives me a clearer vision of what the garment should be.  Does this happen to anyone else?

~Again the recurring theme in my life...I have ALOT of fabric! *LOL*

~I think the reason I sew so many dresses is because I get more bang for my buck!  When I've finished a dress, I have a complete outfit to wear.  When I finish a skirt, top or pair of pants, I still need to make at least one coordinating piece to have an outfit.  So dresses have become a mainstay in my sewing time is limited and precious...I have to accomplish much in that time...dresses help me do that!

~My sewing machine is getting old.  I have to baby it more to keep it happy!  It's almost like an elderly relative...I'm always going the extra mile to make sure that its safe and working properly.  I've put off buying one because I thought I should own a top of the line version.  But during the sewing vacay, I've started to rethink this.  Christmas is coming and sewing machines will go on I need to actually do something about this...

~Do you realize that when constructing a garment that the least amount of time is spent at your sewing machine?  It just seems that I spend way more time at my ironing board or the cutting table than I do actually running my sewing machine.  Has anyone else noticed this?

And finally, I'm going to sew this weekend...what I don't know...but something! *LOL*  I have a lot of options for more pre-fall garments especially since the ones I wore this week worked so well.

...more later!   

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Wrap-up and Questions & Answers

It was a good sewing vacay because I ended up with 8 finished garments - 3 dresses, 1 top, 1 cardigan, 1 skirt and a suit comprised of a jacket & skirt.  I sewed up 17.5 yards of fabric.  I inserted 3 invisible zippers and I used 9.5 yards of lining.  Even though TNT patterns ruled the day, I did use a new pattern (Simplicity 2570) for the suit jacket.  And even though I didn't complete the 9 garments I was aiming for, I did make enough garments so that I can wear a new outfit every day to work this week.

This sewing vacay left me calmer, happier and more centered that I was before.  I also realized that even though I have an extremely large collection of fabric, patterns and trims...having it gives me the freedom to be as creative as my imagination was a good week and just what my weary soul needed.

Now onto some questions:

In the New Sewists Thursdays - Pattern Sizing post

BJ asked, "I am an experienced sewer and now I am sewing for my thirteen-year-old daughter. She measures a size 16 girl's, so she has almost grown out of that size range. Some of the pattern companies don't have junior patterns at all, some have very little to choose from. What do I do when she outgrows girl's?"

I noticed this when my girls got older and what I found was that mostly they got taller before they become more shapely.  So at the beginning I just added length to patterns that were already working for them.  After that I used Misses patterns in the smallest sizes I could find...making sure that I used more youthful looking patterns.  But I have to admit that right around 6th grade my DD's asked me to stop sewing for them.  They wanted to look more like their peers and have things purchased from the store.  So I have limited experience with sewing for older children.  If anyone has some specific answers for BJ please leave them in the comments section!  Thanks!

Aminat asked, "I am a new sewist myself, but when I buy my pattern I buy based on the finished garment measurement which is usually placed on the bottom of envelop , if I choose my real measurement based on the actual body measurement usually placed on the top of the envelop , the fit is always too big. So my question is, is this the general rule or it's just working for me?

Actually I purchase patterns by the finished garment measurements too, making sure that my largest measurements fit within those measurements with a reasonable amount of ease added.  So not only is this working for you but its working for me too!  I know that there are rules for fit.  But I also know that sometimes you find what works for you and you go with it.
In the Garment No. 1 ~ Saturday/Sunday Entry post:
BCR8iv asked, "Which TNT pattern did you choose in the end for the dress"
When I mention my TNT dress pattern I'm only referring to one pattern - OOP Butterick 5932.  As I've mentioned before, I've been using this pattern for at least 12 years.  It's started out as one thing and has morphed into a completely different dress.  So even though I have sewn several other dresses from other patterns, when I have an idea or need to make a dress quickly, this is the pattern I reach for because it never fails me.  I wrote a blog post about my top 12 TNT patterns - you can read it here.
LindsayT asked, "When are you going to make up the black & white wool print that you bought at Mood?"
Okay, the pressure!  *LOL*  Girl that fabric hasn't even aged yet. It is still in the Mood bag sitting beneath my cutting table!  The significant other is still cursing at it when he comes over!  No seriously probably this fall.  It is a simple sheath dress and will make an appearance before there is snow on the ground!
Anonymous asked, "Did you make your own black satin bias strips or did you purchase them and from where?"
I buy basics like that from Daytona Trimmings - my trim store of choice!  I bought 25 yards of it last November to make The Dior Dress Knock-off and have been using little bits of it ever since.
And to all who asked if they could borrow some of my garments...ummmm, no! *LOL*
In the Fall Greenery post:
Char asked, "You have mentioned in the past that you baste your garments. Why do you hand baste or machine baste?"
Mainly I hand baste to keep things together until I can get them to the sewing machine and sew the pieces together.  I don't hand baste alot.  It is mostly in sleeve insertions where I've found I get a better result when hand basting.  The other time is when I'm adding underlining to a fashion fabric.
Marjie asked, "Where do you get the fabric?" referring to the Missoni-like cardigan.
My best and most interesting sweater knits come from Emmaonesock although I'm constantly on the look-out for them.  I've bought a couple other pieces from Fabric Mart and Metro Textiles but the best ones come from EOS!
something else designs asked, "Aside from the fact that they are all beautiful, they are numerous! My question is what do you do with them after you have worn them some? I have trouble parting with things I have put my work and care into. Are your closets bursting or do you manage to part with some of your creations?"
I use to have this problem before I started sewing so much of my wardrobe.  Now if something wears out...I sew something new to replace it.  If something is out of style or I no longer fit goes to the recycle/donate pile.  I have no compunctions about giving them away.  However, I am very sensitive about them when they are first made because they are like my babies...but babies grow up become mouthy teenagers and need to move on!  *LOL*
Kathryn asked, "Did you consider orienting the stripes in the other direction?"
Yes originally I did!  Because there is always the danger that horizontal stripes can make you look larger...but when I laid the pattern pieces out, I realized that matching the stripes would be easy and the "Missoni-like" pattern seemed light and airy enough to camouflage instead of enlarge.  If it hadn't worked, I would have just scrapped it but thankfully it did work!
Finally, Spottedroo asked, "Where did I get the pumpkin fabric?"
I bought that fabric two years ago from Fabric Mart.  They were having an end of the season sale on linen and I bought 4-5 yards of all the colors they had, red, a denimy blue, brown and that pumpkin.  Sometimes it pays to collect beautiful fabric!  *LOL*  Because of the 8 garments only 1 came from recently purchased fabric...all of the rest of them were from the fabric collection/closet!

I would like to thank everyone who followed along and anxiously awaited for posts (Elizabeth)!  Thanks everyone who left a comment...they were so appreciated!  And thanks for coming back again and again to read my ramblings, check out my sewn garments and encouraging me on!

As always...more later!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

A Dress or Two

...or pieces 7 and 8.

Both dresses are made from my TNT dress pattern...but there are several differences besides one has short sleeves and the other is sleeveless.

First lets start with the Fall Greenery Dress


cotton/linen twill from

22" invisible zipper
3 yards rayon seam tape
1/2 yard embroidered ribbon from M&J Trimmings
2 yards of lace for the lining hem
2 yards of ambiance lining

At first I was just going to make a sheath dress to go with the "Missoni-like" green cardigan.  The skirt, dress and cardigan would have worked together to make mix and match pieces.  Somewhere in the cutting out process, I changed my mind.  I decided that I wanted a stand alone dress.  Something distinctive and with a little voom especially since I'm planning on making quite a few sheath dresses this fall/winter season.  That's when the sleeves got added back onto the dress.  Then I started playing around with a ruffle on the front of the dress.  After a few options were tried and discarded, I realized that I really liked the selvedge edge of the fabric.  So two strips were cut, sewn together, gathered and then basted to the front of the dress. 

I left the dress in flat form on my cutting table Friday morning when I went to meet friends.  While I was wandering around M&J, I found a piece of trim that I thought would bring a wonderful accent to the ruffled trim.  After some discussion with the group, I bought it and a second piece, just in case the first piece did not work.  Here is what the ruffle looked like flat with the embellished ribbon added:

My original thought was to add some pearls that I had on hand.  I'm glad I took a chance with this piece of embellished ribbon because to me it just makes the dress and takes it in a totally different direction.  This is how I will wear it now:

And that is piece 7 or another day at work...

Piece 8 is part of a jacket/dress combination...but after working on one jacket this week, I knew I didn't have the wherewithal to sew another one!  I totally understand that two days to make a jacket is a very short time...however, I was going for number of pieces this sewing vacay not involved garments.  And the jacket for this dress has a since I didn't want to rush it...I decided that the jacket should wait for a weekend...where all I will do is work on that piece...  I was happy with that piece number 8 is the pumpkin linen lined sheath dress.

There is nothing spectacular about this dress except for the color!  It is my normal TNT lined sheath dress.  But finally a piece is done for the Pumpkin Wardrobe...*sigh*  It will work with several jackets/toppers already in my closet and can be worn before the jacket is completed...if I desire.

Here it is alone with a great piece of jewelry from a coworker:

Here it is with a cardigan from fabric from Emmaonesock that I made several years ago:

I finished sewing ahead of time...about 4:30pm and I'm very happy with my total of 8 finished garments.  It is a full week's worth of clothing.  So I even though I didn't sew 9 garments, I do feel as if I fulfilled my goal!

I will do a sewing recap tomorrow...I have to go and clean my bedroom which is a total disaster area!  But suffice it to say that my sewing vacation has been very relaxing!  I've slept late...listened to my creative voice...watched Oprah...and sewed.  I spent a day out with friends fabric shopping.  I saw a movie and had dinner with the same friends.  I'm now ready to rejoin the workforce tomorrow!

You can see all the pictures of the garments, including construction pics that were not included in the blog posts in my Flickr album - Sewcation Garments! 

...more later!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The September Issue ~ The Movie

Okay, I've decided that I'm the only one that didn't like this movie!  I saw it yesterday with my friends because we had to get out of the rain!  I mean it was drizzling on and off all day in NYC but when the wind picked up as well as the rain well it was time to seek shelter.  Our choices were to try and trek down to FIT and the museum to see the Toledo Exhibit or to hit up "The September Issue".  Since we were closer to 42nd Street and the movie was starting shortly, we opted to see the movie.

However, after reading both Karen's review, LindsayT's review and a folder about the movie on Stitcher's Guild, I've decided that someone did something to the cut we saw in NYC yesterday.  Because I have one word to describe the movie, BORING!  Thank God they gave Grace Coddington a bigger role in the movie because Anna Wintour may be a genius of an editor but she came off as bland, cold, and monotone.  The movie was so uninspiring that one member of our band of merry fabric shoppers (who shall remain nameless) took a nap during the movie and at times I had to pinch myself to stay awake.

Now I know why they jazzed up the storyline for the movie, "The Devil Wears Prada!"  Maybe it's also because I've worked at a magazine before so I realize that the day-to-day, in and out is just not that awe-inspiring, drop dead glamorous.  Maybe it's because I saw Valentino (which is a wonderful movie and you should run right out and buy a copy now!) that I'm so unimpressed with the movie.

Or maybe it was because it was BORING!  *LOL*  And the funny thing is that everyone in my group agreed.  So if someone would kindly tell me where that more interesting cut of the movie is playing...I would like to go and see it too!  Otherwise, I'm gonna stick with Meryl and Anne and the fictionalized Vogue Magazine...

btw...Meryl had Anna down to a T!

An update

Here's a pic of the completed garments so far...

Yesterday after spending the day in the city with friends, I found some perfect trim at MJ Trimmings for the dress I'm currently working on...Probably won't have more pics until much later in the evening...or tomorrow...

...more later!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fall Greenery

or pieces 5 and 6...

I had two goals in mind for my sewing this week. One was to see if I could complete a well-sewn garment for each day I was off...that's nine garments. And the second was to complete an entire week's worth of outfits from those 9 garments. I think I'm gonna end up with 10 but we'll see.

So far I've created a dress that can be worn with a jacket or a sweater from my closet. Just a regular work dress for a regular work day. The second outfit is the power outfit of the bunch - the black suit to be worn for those serious meeting days. Pieces 5 and 6 are my Friday "business casual" outfit.

I called it "Fall Greenery" because of the sage green fabric. This is a soft more fashionable color and that's one of the reasons why it was used in the business casual outfit.

It is comprised of my TNT burda cardigan and another version of the Simplicity 5914 skirt (which btw has 42 reviews on PR!). I can wear this with a simple white tank as I have above or with a short sleeve turtleneck sweater for those early fall days. Or if needed I can up the ante by pairing it with the white Butterick 4980 jacket.

Some stats:

2 yards of cotton/linen twill from
2 yards of a Missoni-like knit from Emmaonesock

9" zipper
3 yards rayon hem tape
1 one inch button

I've made this cardigan many times and this was the most challenging because the fabric was so unstable. It shifted and moved and wouldn't hold a pin from the cutting table to the sewing machine...ay carimba! I used seam binding in the shoulder seams to stabilize the shoulders. I used silk organza in the neck binding to stabilize the front band and it gave me a place to add a button and buttonhole. It was an amazing piece of fabric and I'm glad that it's cut and sewn!!!

This is my 4th version of this skirt, even though this is it's first appearance on the blog. The first time I made this skirt, I changed the center back pattern piece from a straight cut on the fold piece to two separate pattern pieces so that I could add a center back zipper. I don't know what it is but I don't like side zippers much. The pattern doesn't call for a lining but I've added one. I've also omitted the facings. I taped the waistline and the lining extends from it. This is one of the easiest and most gratifying skirts that you can make!

Six pieces are completed...I have a dress almost finished but it will have to wait until Saturday morning. I'm off to spend the day with some friends in NYC and won't be back until this evening. I'm actually glad for the diversion. I need a break from my sewing machine! *LOL*

...more later!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Another Black Suit

As much as I try not to wear black all the time, there are situations at work where a good black suit is necessary. Presently I have two black suits for fall/winter in my closet. This summer I realized that I need a spring/summer one and maybe a transitional one. Well I did purchase the fabric for the spring/summer one but just never got around to it...however, I can now take the transitional black suit off of my list.

The suit is comprised of the jacket from Simplicity 2570:

The top is the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank:

And the skirt is a version of my TNT skirt pattern.

Some stats:

black wool doubleknit from Metro Textiles
paisley eggplant silk from Marji - a piece from her clean-out

8" black invisible zipper
12 - one inch silver buttons
5 - 1/2" silver buttons
a pair of 1/2 shoulder pads
4 yards of black satin bias binding
3 yards black rayon hem tape

Simplicity 2570 Jacket
I love yoke front jackets. That's one of the reasons why I chose this pattern. It also reminded me of my favorite black sweater which was worn with the black/white eyelet dress I just made. I thought that this jacket would be great with the dress as well as with a skirt. However, my jacket looks nothing like the jacket on the pattern envelope. And that's because when I went to add width to the jacket, I not only sliced and diced the pattern pieces but I added some to the front band. When I did a quick baste together of the jacket pieces for fit purposes, I liked how the larger front band looked and kept it...thus changing the overall look and feel of the jacket.

Also, I moved the pockets from the chest area (do I really need emphasis there?! *LOL*) to down by the hem. By encasing them in bias binding and adding a button to the top of the pocket, I gave them an emphasis that was lacking in the original version. My sleeves were also changed from a one piece sleeve, to a bracelet length sleeve with a center seam. I typically make this change on sleeves to make room for my bodacious biceps. The original jacket is unlined and remains so in my version. I did add some topstitching to unite the jacket and skirt.

Finally, this jacket took a full two days to sew! And for someone who was trying to make quick pieces this one was anything but quick! Then to add insult to injury not only did I have a lot of handsewing - yoke, hem and sleeve hems but there were 14 buttons to sew on which also is not part of the pattern - it recommends snaps! But all of the effort was worth it is with the black/white eyelet dress:

Sewing Workshop Mission Tank
This is my go-to, TNT tank top. There is nothing different in this constuction process except that I didn't take the easy way out and turn and stitch the edges of the neckline and armholes. They are both self bound to give it a more finished look. This was not originally scheduled to be sewn but after using the fabric for the lining of the skirt, I could just "see" the tank. I'm glad that I took the time to make it because it completes the outfit!

TNT skirt
I haven't used this version of the skirt in years. But after making it this time, I will definitely sew it again this fall/winter season. I chose it because I already have a straight black skirt and a 4 gore version for fall. I didn't really want another one of the these versions and the choice was between this one and the one Gaylen has called "The Carolyn Skirt". (Simplicity 5914) Besides the three panel front and a thinner waistband, there is no other difference between it and my straight skirt. The pattern pieces are actually taken from my straight skirt, just sliced at the darts and 5/8" seam allowances added to come up with two separate front pieces. However, I did tape the waistband with twill tape to insure that it didn't grow on me during the day...especially since it is made from a double knit fabric. The finished skirt sports an invisible zipper, 2 silver buttons on the waistband as closures, as well as topstitching on the front seams. It is the perfect skirt for the jacket.

One more pic of me in the outfit... next garments are made from a cotton/linen twill out of a soft sagey green. I'm tired of black...the black fuzz is everywhere...and I need a little color in my life now! *LOL* always, more later!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

It's Tuesday Morning

...and I'm slow rolling this morning. Pieces 2 and 3 are completed which are a skirt and a top. Piece 4 - the jacket from Simplicity 2570 has been cut out, basted together for fit and taken apart. Today I will begin the process of actually constructing the garment. But this has been a lazy morning. I think I'm going to relax a bit this morning before diving back into sewing since I'm right on schedule!

Just wanted to give you a brief update because both of my photographers are out of the one will be back until very late this evening so there probably won't be any pretty pictures of these pieces until tomorrow!

But in the meantime can I share something else with you...I love pins! I've loved pins since before they came back on the fashion scene this time with Michelle Obama...and I've loved them since the time before that when they were declared "in style" yet again. I've probably loved them since I was a little girl because my grandmother had 2 or 3 very special ones that she rotated along with her good "costume jewelry" necklaces for Sunday Church Services. They always seemed to complete her outfits.

Does anyone remember Sarah Coventry jewelry and the jewelry parties? When I was growing up I think my mother had every type of home party there was...Tupperware...Princess House...Avon...and Sarah Coventry Jewelry. At one point almost all costume jewelry earrings were clip ons, everyone didn't have pierced ears when I was growing up...and I still don't have pierced ears. Though it is getting harder and harder to find stylish and fashionable clip on earrings, I will not be piercing my ears. At first when I was younger it was because I was my 30's it was because I had an entire wardrobe of earrings that I didn't have the resources to replace...starting my 50's, I just don't care anymore...I wear clip earrings.

Lately though some of my favorite jewelers have caught on to the "clip on minority" and have started providing earrings for us. I have a couple of pairs of Honora single pearl clip on earrings now in fashion colors that I just love! But I digress...I need to bring this back to sewing! *LOL* On eBay I noticed that there was a Sarah Coventry section - 35 pages worth! - and as I started to look through the offerings, I realized that quite a few of the current jewelry designers were using design ideas from the 60's in their pieces today. I also realized that quite a bit of the "vintage" jewelry was very wearable now...and I started bidding...and bidding...and bidding.

*Sigh* Y'know eBay is a very dangerous place...before you know it you are bidding on like 10 or 12 auctions and getting caught up in bidding fever... However, I quickly found my balance and purchased just a few pin/earring sets which I would like to share with you because they influenced what I am creating this sewing vacay...

This silver one started the slide:

This one quickly followed:

I think I ended up purchasing 4 or 5 sets and they are as beautiful in person as they are in the photos. These pieces will work wonderfully with the new sheath dress jacket combinations that I'm working on for fall. I'm also giving in and purchasing some leggings to go under my dresses for winter. Hopefully it won't be so cold this winter that I won't be able to go through with my plan. So after this episode of "The View" ends, I'm having some lunch and then heading back to my sewing table. Pretty pictures soon...I promise!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Garment No. 1 - Saturday/Sunday's Entry

or as I thought of it during construction..."The Building of A Dress, yet again"

This fabric...

Inspired this dress...

However, it's not exactly how I envisioned the dress when I purchased the fabric. I "saw" my TNT sheath dress with the border at the hemline. I was going to cut off another piece of the border and bring it up to the neckline to carry the eyelet theme throughout the dress. Ummmm, it didn't quite work out that way! *LOL*

First, 40" wide is not as wide as I think it is...especially when it's got a border on either end.

Second, my dress piece would not fit on the crosswise grain of the fabric - which I needed to do to take best advantage of the embroidered border.

Third, the realization that my pattern didn't fit caused me to step back a moment and come up with a new plan. After pawing through ALL and I do mean all the pieces in the TNT dress folder (as an aside, I did not realize that I've made so many different versions of this dress with the accompanying pattern pieces), I came up with a new plan.

So this is my second idea for this fabric...and after adding a seam to the dress, I needed something to give the fabric some pop...I found a yard of black grosgrain ribbon...just a yard...not quite enough. My hand then landed on a remnant of black silk/linen that would work just as well as the I cut the length I needed and added it to the dress.

Some stats:

3 yards of 40" wide black/white cotton eyelet from Fabric Mart
2 yards black cotton batiste from Metro Textiles
1/8 yard black silk/linen fabric

22" black invisible zipper

Some additional construction information:

*All of the pieces were underlined with the black cotton batiste because the eyelet holes are pretty large in some places.

*The top of the dress was constructed using the black cotton batiste as a lining instead of an underlining. After playing around with the border print at the neckline, it just didn't work for home sewn looking for this I sewed the two pieces together this way instead of basting them together as I did for the skirt pieces.

*As I was sewing the satin black bias binding onto the armholes, I noticed how kewl it looked if I only pressed some of it to the inside. So I left about 1/2" all around, pressed it down and then machine stitched it flat. I like how it adds some detail to the armholes and it gives your eyes a place to rest from the eyelet pattern.

*The skirt underlining pieces were given a 2" hem. It was pressed and machine stitched and then basted to the fashion fabric. A 2" hem was chosen because it cleared the embroidered edge of the fabric and didn't show through.

*The black band was two long strips 4" wide, sewn right sides together and then turned, pressed with the edge slip stitched closed. The piece was then sewn down to the front of the dress and again at the side seams.

This dress took about 8 hours to make from the first cut to the final stitches. It's a fun and a little funky dress that I can wear with a jacket to make it more corporate for my job or with my favorite black sweater and some sandals for date night.

So item one is is a cute little jacket from Simplicity 2570.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Sewing Vacation = Sewing Camp

The purpose of this sewing vacay is to totally immerse myself in, to wallow in, to overflow my soul with creating...I'm treating this sewing vacay like it's a sewing camp or retreat. You know where you gather together with a group of your peers or friends and devote a specific amount of time to sewing. Yes this is what I'm doing this week! I'm being totally dedicated to my craft...

And in that vein, I have a goal for this finish one garment per day. Just one...I think this is doable. My list for sewing this week is a mix of simple, TNT and one or two new patterns. I've planned this like a general planning a major offensive on the battlefield! Supplies are on hand, Mountain Dew and food are stocked...I've even laid in a fresh supply of batteries for the digital camera to document the process. But most importantly, I have a list and a full fabric closet to bring this to fruition.

So starting tomorrow morning, I will prewash fabric, cut and alter patterns and generally prepare to sew. I will sew every day except for Friday...with a hard stop at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday evening. Stopping then will allow me to calmly put everything away, vacuum the threads and drippings off my carpet, and slowly decompress for my re-entry into my work week.

There will be a limited amount of computer time...I don't want anything to intrude on my dedicated sewing time...I will, however, keep you updated on my progress! *LOL* I mean really that's part of the fun...sharing with all of you the struggles, the challenges and the satisfying results!

So let the sewing begin!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Summer Sewing Recap

It's the beginning of Labor Day weekend here in the States and as I begin my pre-fall sewing, I've decided to take a look back at what I've accomplished this summer.

This was a fun project done with a few of my fellow bloggers. LindsayT, Cidell, Marji and I, all decided to make a straight skirt using a bold graphic print just like the one featured in the June issue of Lucky magazine. Not only did we each end up with a great new trendy item, but it was also fun to sew along together as well as exchange information on fabric, fit and construction tips.

The point of this set of garments was to add some color back into my work wardrobe. It's summer and I wanted outfits that spoke to the fun and colorfulness of the season. These pieces added an intense burst of yellows and greens into my daily life. It set me apart in the sea of black at my job and it added joy to my days! The collection contained two versions of my favorite skirt, and several awesome dresses. The only regret I have about this set is that I didn't get the last dress made...but there's always next summer!

3. Fabric
No look back is complete without a fabric discussion. I took this picture of the fabric pile at the beginning of spring:

And here it is now:

There doesn't seem to be much of a change in the pile does it? Which is amazing to me since I did manage to sew up 30 yards! Yeah I know I have problems but it is what it is... My summer sewing yielded 8 dresses, 4 skirts and 2 jackets, a great knock-off dress, an explosion of color and a new aspect to my closet.

So even though there were several garments that never made it out of 'flat fold status' I'm ready to move on! I'm ready to sew those transitional garments that are worn between the last hot days of summer and those first chilly mornings and cooler afternoons...those are the garments calling my name now!
Those are the garments I'm working on this week...


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