Monday, February 28, 2011

The Reveal

It has been an interesting that has occupied my unusually one track then is my latest dress:

Some stats:

1 yard navy blue tropical wool
1 yard navy blue wool lace knit

2.5 yards navy bemberg lining
14" invisible zipper
3 yards navy blue piping

Some Final Construction Notes:

 The dress has no sleeves.  I tried the dress on for my DD and she said that the dress looked really good without I took her advice and left them off.  This does make the dress more versatile so that it can be worn with quite a few cardigans and a jacket or two presently in my wardrobe.

 The hem is machine stitched.  I added the rayon seam binding to the hem and then removed it.  It caused a show through on the lacy part of the dress that looked home ecky.  The machine stitched hem melts into the lacy part of the dress and melds into the fibers of the tropical wool so I went with that.

•  The lining has been reversed.  Usually I put wrong sides together, but since a good portion of the dress is lacy, I didn't want the seams showing through to the right side of the dress.  So that nice clean finish is missing on the inside of the dress..there are serged seams instead.

•  It was stated in the comments of the last Versace Inspired post that Versace wouldn't add piping to the dress.  And the person who left that comment is probably right...but since I adapted pieces of the original dress that I liked to my dress, I gave myself permission to also add design touches that are true to my style.  And I love piping ~ it adds a finishing touch that I adore.

•  I ditched the belt.  I pinned it in but my daughter thought it detracted from the dress instead of adding to it.  I the belt was left on the cutting table.

The plan is to wear the dress with a pair of taupe shoes, but of course, I left them under my desk at work.  However, here is a pic of the dress with a vanilla it may make an appearance at my job.

I've also got a great navy flower and a navy hat that I will probably wear with the dress for Easter Sunday...and no I don't have a pic of daughter was getting ready to leave and she and my SIL graciously waited for me to get dressed...and slap some make up that she could take some pics for me...which of course leads to the gratitious picture of me with The Little Prince.

Finally, making this dress pushed my pattern interpretation skills to another level.  I'm sure to some it's just another version of my TNT dress...cementing my sewing skills as one note...but to me, it allowed me to think outside the box and incorporate some details that I would never see in a plus size dress anywhere. 

I really hope that if you are a plus size sewist reading these posts that you see that we can make anything we want...current and trendy, designer or not, classic and cute but most importantly that with a TNT pattern you can have any look you want!

...more later!

Friday, February 25, 2011

I've Got a List

...and I sooooo want to use it!  A sewing list that is...

See it hit me while I was making the Versace Inspired Dress, I'm stuck and in a rut with the Pinstripe Follies.  I decided that I wouldn't sew any of the additional pieces until the jacket was completed and well...the jacket isn't no other pieces are finished either.  See, stuck!

But because I've been working on something that has me charged up and has brought my mojo roaring back, I've now got a list of things I want to make...mostly dresses of course...but pieces that intrigue me and make me want to chain myself to my sewing machine until they've emerged from flat pieces of fabric to garments that are hanging in my closet.

So I'm gonna sew my list.  I'm gonna put the Pinstripe Follies on the back burner and hope and pray that I come back to them...especially since I've got about 2 months of fall/winter sewing left before I'll move onto spring sewing.

Speaking of inspired...I journeyed to the Garment District this afternoon on the A Train.  One stop and I was in fiber heaven.  I bought the navy piping...which btw I've decided to use.  So thanks everyone for weighing in with your opinions and reasons.  I know the navy piping is the way to go with the dress, I just lost it for a minute Sunday evening when I thought I could actually finish the dress.  It has a few more hours worth of work but it will definitely be completed this weekend.  Mama needs a new dress for work!  *LOL*

The rest of my list is to finish up the tweedy straight skirt and cardigan, and to make two or three more dresses.  I don't really want to share what the dresses will be right now because I don't want the blog know when you talk about something so much and then it doesn't see the light of day...can I just say "Pinstripe Follies" to prove my point. 

Anyway...know that I will be sewing this weekend...that I will have pics of finished garments to share...and that my mojo is BACK!

...more later!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Versace Inspired - Some Construction Pictures

Yesterday evening I got the dress shell and lining completed and I tried the dress on (minus the lining) and if I could have leapt for joy I would have! *LOL*  I'm very pleased (and that's showing some restraint) with how the dress looks on much so that I almost finished the dress using a tan piping in the neckline.  But I just couldn't let me share a pic with you:

I would love to do something a little different at the neckline and the sleeve the dress a little funkiness that my corporatized version lacks.  I know that the navy blue piping would work with the dress especially if I wear it with a double strand pearl necklace.  I would be corporate perfect.  But...the tan would be more me...y'know what I mean...trendy corporate! *LOL*  So let me know what you think?  Beige or navy blue?

And for hanging in there with me...believing in me...thinking I have some sewing skillz and generally cheering me are a few pics of Lulu wearing the dress with the piping basted on and the lining pinned in.

Front view

Side view with the circle

Back view

Other side

All of the pictures have been lightened so
that you can see the details!

I am very encouraged and happy with how the dress is turning out.  It will definitely be finished during the weekend, so look for an update and pics of me wearing it then. 

...more later!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Versace Inspired - Cutting & Construction Pt 1

It was with much anticipation and anxiety that I laid the navy blue wool lace on my cutting table.  As I laid the fabric out flat because the pattern pieces would need to be cut singly, I remembered why I got so much of this piece and at such a great deal...this is why:

Which wasn't a problem for this garment, the pattern pieces could be placed around these spots because they were spread infrequently throughout the fabric.  Other than that the cutting was soooooo simple compared to the patternwork which proceeded it.

Next up was beginning the construction process...and being the chicken that I am...I started with the back pieces first.  Each lace piece was pinned to and stitched to the fashion fabric.  Then the seams were pressed flat, open and finally pressed against the fashion fabric.

After realizing that these went together relatively easy, I took a big breathe and moved to the jigglesaw front pieces.  Of course assembling the front was a little more complicated.

a.  I marked and sewed the bust dart on the lace section first and then set it aside.

b.  The dart on the fabric side was marked and sewn next.

c.  The lace insert that forms the top of the bodice was sewn to the fabric section next...and pressed flat against the fashion fabric piece.

d.  Finally the side lace circle insert was sewn in using a 3/8" seam allowance and was clipped every 1/2" all the way around the seam.

This is a really important point...all the seams were pressed flat, then open and finally against the fashion fabric so that there would be no show through on the lace.

This is how the front looks right now pinned onto Lulu:

I thought this was a better representation of the dress than hanging flat on a hanger...and until I did this I was losing a little steam with the construction process.

So I've cut the lining from a dark navy blue rayon bemberg and I will assemble the lining and the shell of the dress this afternoon and stop there.  Why you ask?  Because I've gotten it into my head that the neckline edge and the sleeve hems need to have piping on them to add a finishing to the dress...and I've run out of navy blue piping. 

I'll head to Daytona Trimmings tomorrow to pick up some...well actually to restock.  Because when I went in search of the navy blue I realized that I'm running low on all the basic piping, white, red and navy blue.  More of each color will be bought to finish off this dress and for future projects.

A few observations:

~until I actually started the assembly process I didn't think/realize how much lace is in this dress...silly right since the inspiration dress is mostly lace...but I was concentrating so hard on the details, it didn't really register.

~the dress shell is lightweight probably because both fabrics feel lighter constructed than they did when folded and pulled from the fabric closet.

~I'm not sure yet about the belt and the button but since I still have time to decide about that I will concentrate on it later.

~there is probably another 6 hours of work to be done on the dress even after the lining and dress shells are completed.  So this dress will be finished next weekend...when I have another 3 day weekend.

It's been an interesting process and learning experience.  It really hit me that I enjoy interpreting a garment so much more than I like taking pattern pieces out of an envelope, making fitting changes and then sewing up a piece.  Besides replacing basics that I need, I think I'm going to do more of this type of sewing this year.  It really engages and challenges me more.  This is the second garment I've made this year in this manner, and I feel creatively like I'm firing all cyclinders when I use this process to sew versus the pattern/cut/sew method. always, more later!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Versace Inspired - Pattern Alterations

This is always the most challenging part of interpreting a garment whether it be designer inspired or from a catalog...the pattern alterations.  What makes it easier is that I start with a pattern that I know fits as evidenced by the 42 different dresses I've made from this pattern.

I used a lot of tracing paper and tape to achieve these alterations and I'm alot more confident in the alterations to the back of the pattern than to the front...

So here is the sequence of pattern alterations I made:

1.  Traced a right and a left side of my TNT dress front pattern.  These two pieces were then taped together.

2.  The first design detail I made to the traced pattern was the side eyelet circle.  To figure out exactly where I wanted the circle to go I held the taped pattern piece up to me and marked where my side hit the pattern.  Then using the scientific method of placing a saucer midway through the side cutting line, I traced the saucer's edge for my circle.

As an aside, all of my tracings were done with a pencil first so if I didn't like the way it looked, I could easily erase the markings and start again.

3.  The main squiggle line through the bodice of the dress was the most challenging part of the pattern alterations because this is what gives the dress the style distinction IMHO.  I drew this line several times, erasing and refining it before I was satisfied with it.

I relied heavily upon my iPad during this process.  Propping it up on the cutting table with the picture of my drawing enlarged so that I could just glance at it to make sure that I was following my vision.  At other times it was the picture of the actual dress...however, it was invaluable during this process!

Lastly I traced over my pencil markings with a black sharpie marker...fully committing to my design choice...*shew*

4.  Cutting the pieces apart and adding seam allowances proved more challenging than I thought.  I had to go back and lay the original pattern piece over the sections more than once to make sure that everything fit and worked like they should.

Can I also state here that in my opinion, you should always use your original pattern piece as a guide to make sure that your new cut up/revised pattern still fits.

I also used different seam allowances for different sections of the front.  The side circle piece has 3/8" seam allowances.  The main squiggle pieces have 5/8" seam allowances.  I did this because on one of Audrey's posts (Sew Tawdry) there was a discussion of how a smaller seam allowance allowed a curved piece to lay flatter.  This is my first time using this technique and I'm sure that it will insure that the eyelet circle will insert flatter and more easily into the dress.

5.  The back pieces were up next and compared to all the work I did on the front ~ a breeze to change.  Probably because there is just one seam separating the eyelet fabric from the solid fabric so it was just a matter of determining where I wanted it to go. 

I went back and forth over whether or not this seam should be affected by the side circle piece and finally decided that the front and back pieces should be different to get the maximum design effect.  Now I've watched the model walk on both the Style and Versace sites and I ended up interpreting the back the way that would work best for me.  I'm sure if someone else attempts this exercise, they would come up with a different solution.

6.  So after the backs were cut apart, seam allowances added (5/8") and placed back together to insure that they fit, the pattern alterations were done. 

But I have to tell you that this dress is alot more complicated than anything I've attempted before and there is a nervousness associated with committing these pattern pieces to the fabric.

Here's a pic of the pattern pieces all cut out waiting to be pinned to the fabric...

...and here is the pile of fabric, notions and lining waiting to be transformed.

Finally, I usually put a DVD of a favorite TV show in while doing these pattern alterations.  They allow me to have some noise in the room while I'm working, yet not distract me - as in sitting down in front of the TV to watch the program - because I've already seen the episodes.  So does anyone else do this?  Or do you need total silence when working?

Next up...the construction always, more later!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Versace Inspired - The Idea

While I was at the airport headed to The DR, I picked up the latest issue of InStyle Magazine (March 2011).  Of course  they are touting all of the new spring pieces but this Versace dress caught my eye and touched a creative nerve:

(courtesy of

When I first looked at it...I mean became obsessed with it, I thought that I would corporatize it for a new spring/summer dress using a navy blue eyelet and linen that are in the fabric collection.  But as I continued to obsess over the dress, I realized that I have an awesome navy blue lacy wool knit that I got from Elliott Berman and some navy blue wool crepe that would work for a dress that's wearable right now!  At this point I started to get really excited...which resulted in the three hour digging fest described in the last post.

Now let me stop right here to explain my's the details in this dress...not so much the shape.
  • the circle cutout at the side waistline
  • the half belt also at the waistline
  • the play of lace against the solid fabric
  • the freshness of the look
  • the fact that corporatized this will be something different and original yet it will make an interesting dress for work.
I never planned on making an exact copy of this dress.  Seriously, this dress has no lining and hugs the model's curves (curves that have gone missing from my body lately!) *LOL*  It's important that you realize this before I share the final reveal...and don't go looking for pictures of a finished dress yet because this is the first of four posts about the journey.

(courtesy of

It was interesting that while I was waiting, I could see the revised "corporatized" version of the dress in my mind...because it's the details (yes, I've said it again!) that are intriguing me and how those details could be added to my TNT dress pattern.  I know I'm headed back to TNT Land to make this dress.

I've watched the dress "walk" several times on and on the Versace site so that I could see the back views.  After all of this watching, I've made a few rough drawings of how I'm going to "interpret" the front:

and back views:

So this is what I'm working on during this three day weekend.  I will start the pattern work this morning because it's going to take some creative cutting to get the details worked out on my TNT pattern. 

If I finish the dress before the weekend is over, I will try to complete the straight skirt and coordinating cardigan from the Anna Sui knit I just acquired from Fabric Mart.  If I don't, well there's always next weekend because this weekend I've chosen to sew something I'm really excited about instead of something that's laying on the cutting table waiting to be completed.  I know I will get back to it...but this...this is special!

...more later!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I've spent the last three hours digging around in my fabric collection.  Looking for the fabrics that I know are in there somewhere...for the dress I want to work on this weekend.  More on that later...

I've realized that even though I'm gaining a sewing room, I need to do something about fabric storage sooner rather than later!  Because the one thing I've always prided myself on was the fact that even though I have a lot of fabric, I could always find what I needed easily...and that just wasn't the case tonight.

So in the next couple of weeks, I will be looking at storage units so that the fabric that I stashed away and out of sight, can come into the light to remind me of the wonderous treasures I own.  The good thing is that I did manage to find the fabric I was looking for...but that was mainly because I refused to be deterred and because I really want to make this garment.

Here is a really bad picture of the two pieces together...

...and don't ever let someone borrow your camera to take a few never comes back the way it was given to them...*sigh*

Anyway...more later on the new garment I'm obsessing over...

To Burda Plus or Not?

There has been a little brouhaha lately about the Burda Plus pattern magazine.  First it use to come out quarterly, I know because I own quite a few of them.  Then they made it bi-annual.  Now the magazine has four sections and only one of the sections has new patterns in it.  The other three sections are just repeats of the patterns that appear in the monthly version of Burda Style magazine.

Since I purchase the BS magazine every month, I'm questioning why I need to continue my subscription to Burda Plus?  For someone who doesn't sew from the BS magazine every month, I have to admit that I love this pattern magazine.  It is so fashionable with such great details included in the clothing...even the plus size garments are fashion forward and trendy. 

So why do I need the recycled patterns twice a year?  It would help if they made them up in different fabrics and photographed them in different settings (like the Big 4 do) but noooooo....they use the exact same photos from the monthly BS.  (Okay, I'm getting quite a thrill out of calling it BS...childish I know! *chuckle, chuckle*)  I've also got serious issues with the fact that they did away with the English version of the Burda site for that new anomoly!  And please don't tell me that the present site has anything to do with the Burda site of old...that, however, is a "discussion" for another time.

Right now, I'm trying to figure out what to do.  Do you want to know what my real quandry is?  I'm afraid I will miss something.  Yeap that's it in a nutshell.  What if they go back to their old ways and print an amazing fall issue with some awesome fat girl clothes...and I miss it!  'Cause it's dayum near impossible to find a Burda Plus on the newsstands and GLP always seems to run out of the good issues with a quickness!

I have to decide soon...the issue pictured above is the last one of my subscription.  I just don't know whether to Burda Plus or not...*sigh*


On another note, have you noticed that there is no sewing going on around here!  Nuthin' at all in the last few posts about actual sewing...hopefully I will fix that this weekend...hopefully...

....more later!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm still sewing winter garments!

Am I the only one that likes to sew in season clothing? I was just wondering because last night when I was trying to catch up on my blog reading, I noticed that several bloggers are saying that they are finishing up their last winter garments and will start sewing spring soon.  Excuse me!  Did I miss something?!  I mean I know the temps have gone up into the 40 degree mark around here lately, but seriously spring?!  There's still snow on the dayum ground!

I just got a bunch of new wools!  My "Pinstripe Follies" collection has been much talked about but not yet sewn.  Won't the temperatures still be cool into the middle of April...when you'll need transistional gear before heading into warmer weather in May?  And hasn't it even been cold, rainy and gloomy on Memorial Day?!

By my figuring, I've got at least another 10 good weeks of winter garment I'm still sewing winter least for the foreseeable future.  How about you are you sewing winter or spring garments?

...more later!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig!

After spending four days in the Dominican Republic at our Corporate Retreat in amazingly warm, humid weather...I left this: return to this:

There is something to be said for traveling in the winter! *LOL*  The resort was amazing and even though the four days were very structured and work related...I did enjoy it.

However, I did return to a few sewing treats...

This is an Anna Sui sweatery fabric purchased from Fabric Mart prior to my departure.  It works perfectly with the silk/wool tweed straight skirt that is in progress.

This grey wool boucle was also in the box because I loved the first two boucle pieces I purchased and figured I should just add one more.

I bought this rayon print from Emmaonesock because it just screamed spring - and I need a little spring in my life right now! *LOL*

The last things waiting for me were the new Sandra Betzina books.  I love Sandra Betzina's teaching style...have since she had her Sew Perfect show on HGTV.  And it was really kewl to see my friend Diane Egleston's name listed as one of the Editors of the books!

I don't know if I'm going to sew today.  If I do I might not do enough to finish anything, but I'm home and hopefully it will be a little quieter and slower at work this week.  Then maybe I can figure out what to sew during the three day President's Day weekend, where I'll be home again! always, more later!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

I Got Nuthin'

Like the title of the post says...I got nuthin!  Last weekend I realized that I just couldn't imagine sewing summer clothing in the midst of these dreary, cold, wintry I turned to the internet and purchased a few maxi dresses to take with me to The DR.  There was a sale...and since I'm not looking for a perfect fit...I bought the dresses...amazingly they work & fit really well.  So that's one thing off my to do list.

My desire to sew seems to have fled.  I think since work is crazy retarded and I need to get so many things done before the trip...sewing has fallen to the bottom of my list.  I did start another straight lined skirt last weekend...but I didn't finish it because the need to sew is just not that strong.

The skirt is made from a piece of silk/wool blend tweed that I bought during PR Philly Weekend at London Textiles.  It was a find from the boxes that we all pawed through and was purchased specifically to make a straight skirt.  I added silk organza as an underlining instead of fusing a knit interfacing to the back of the fabric.  This is where it stands now...

I don't know if I'll get back to it this weekend because I have to pack and clean but most importantly The Little Prince and his mother are visiting.  I want to spend as much time with them as I once again sewing has been relegated to the bottom of the list.

However, I have been fabric shopping and showing no restraint!  Somehow knowing that I'm getting my sewing room back and a new, redesigned, more functional room to boot has just let me fabric shop with abandon.  I will share the pieces either as they arrive or as I use them.

So that's what I've been up to...and the posts will be scarce again this week since I leave for the DR on Wednesday. always, more later!


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