Monday, June 27, 2011

Butterick 3195 - so far...

I've fallen in love with the draped neck look...and after making four versions of Vogue 1250...I think it's time to move onto wovens.  I was so inspired by this layout in the July 2011 People Style Watch magazine:

Thank goodness for a pattern collection.  Because after digging around in it, I was able to find Butterick 3195. 

The pattern description says:  "Bias dress, above mid-knee, mid-knee or above ankle, has back zipper ad short, self-lined sleeves or long sleeves...and it's circa 2001. Wow ~ this pattern is ten years old!"

After finding the pattern, I happily rummaged through the fabric collection and found some sandwashed silks that I had purchased from Fabric Mart a couple of years ago.  I thought that this fabric would make T-H-E perfect draped neck dress.  It would be a distinctive color, as well as, having the draped neckline I wanted and it was bias cut.  I wasn't so sure about the bias cut but I was willing to take a chance and work with it.

After pulling the pattern pieces from the envelope (sizes 20-22-24), I realized that there would once again be some extensive pattern alterations needed but turning to my trusty TNT dress pattern, I made the following changes to the pattern:

I sliced up the center front of the pattern and added space to the abdomen, hip and hem area.  Then I added to the side seams so that they would match the side seams of my TNT dress.

The back was traced and altered by creating the pattern sandwich (TNT back piece, new pattern piece, tracing paper) to trace a new back piece that incorporated the design of this pattern (especially the back curve) with the space needed from my original TNT dress back piece.

When I went to cut out the dress, I laid the pattern on the silk crepe and thought, I should just cut this out on the straight grain...but noooooooo I went ahead and cut bias pieces and there begins the downfall of the first version of the dress...and let's just leave it at that okay.  It was a wadder pure and simple...okay, okay I'll let you see a picture of it on the hanger...

It doesn't look bad on the hanger but it was a hot mess on my body!  *LOL* What a waste of a beautiful piece of fabric, right?!  Don't worry I have more!  But I was still intrigued by this dress especially since I just knew this would work in a woven fabric cut on the straight grain.  I found and purchased this lightweight silk crepe from Sawyer Brook:

This is how the website describes it...
"This lightweight printed silk crepe features ivory and black floral elements dancing over a crackled ground of black and ivory. Accents of soft tan appear on the white blossoms throughout. Great for camisoles, tanks, blouses or dresses. 44 in."

I started working on this dress late Sunday evening.  I just wasn't that motivated to sew this weekend.  Here is where it stands now:

....and a close-up of the neckline:

There's about an hour's worth of work left to do to finish this dress, so I will complete it this weekend.  I'm loving it so far and may make another one from some of that leftover silk crepe but I'll make sure to cut it on the straight grain this time!!!!

I 've figured out what I want to do with the Simplicity Vintage Pattern 2154.  Haven't pulled all of the fabrics yet...but I will have more on that later...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I paid full price

...and gladly!

See I was on the Simplicity site checking out the summer patterns that they had on sale for $3.99 and I noticed that their new early autumn patterns were up.  Now I don't buy alot of Simplicity patterns for two reasons:

1.  Simplicity only discounts their patterns 40% on their website and run very few online sales.

2.  I don't frequent the craft store that masquarades as a fabric store, so I miss all of those great 99cent sales that many others participate in.

But this time Simplicity must have reached into their vintage vault and pulled out a pattern so extraordinaire that I had to buy it.  This pattern goodness arrived in the mail:

Simplicity 2154 - Misses' & Miss petite 1960’s retro style blouse, skirt, jacket and knit cardigan sewing pattern. Simplicity Vintage Pattern Collection...sizes 6-24! 

Now do you see why I had to pay full price (well 40% off the full price) for this pattern!  It is a compilation of some of my favorite 60s vintage suits.  You know the patterns that I have diligently collected over the years but have yet to sew!  The ones that when I look at them make me want to cry because of all the delicious details that are contained in an outfit but yet work so well.

This pattern has two jackets.  One for knits and one for wovens.  Then the most amazing sleeveless bow tie blouse and a pencil skirt.  Right now there are fabrics abiding in my collection waiting to become these pieces!  That's right...I'll be rambling around in it this weekend, trying out fabrics to use with this pattern.  I am sooooooo excited!

Now if you haven't already checked out Simplicity's early autumn collection, you can see it here.  And if you are waiting for one of the local "fabric" stores to have one of those awesome sales, I really hope you can find one in your size...because not only are the pieces great but the pattern instructions are pretty great too!

I will let you know what candidates I find in the fabric closet...

...and as always, more later!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Diary Bits on a Friday evening in June

This is just a mishmash of things I've been thinking this week...since I've run out of new clothes to share!

1.  I've really been on a floral/print kick lately!  You would think that I don't work for a professional place with a pretty strict dresscode!

2.  I went to the garment district on Tuesday to buy bias binding...I got this instead:

Yeah, I know...more fabric!  But at least I only bought this one piece (2.5 yds/45" wide ~ cotton pique with a touch of lycra) from Parons.  And oh yeah, I did get the bias binding.

3. Which of course brings me to the second version of B5620...I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with it.  When I read Jo Ann's comment about a seam down the front I got pretty excited and thought that might be a good idea...but once I got home a skirt seemed like a good idea too.  So I have no idea what I'm doing with this fabric.  Yeah...that's the way I'm thinking of it fabric.

Liberty of Londan

4.  The introductory price that has on their Liberty of London fabrics expires July 6th.  I know there's been some discussion on why you would purchase these and why they are so expensive...I mean besides the fact that they are exported from London.  This is the description from the website:

"This Tana Lawn is finely woven, light weight and ultra soft, which makes it perfect for flirty blouses, dresses, lingerie, tunics, tops and more."
I would have to agree.  This is some of the softest, nicest cotton that I've ever worked with and I'm not really a cotton dress wearer.  Plus there is the fact that Liberty of London is one of those fabrics I've always wanted to own and use.  I've already placed my order for the last two pieces that I was going back and forth over.  I just wanted you to know that the price is going up to $32.98 per yard on July 7th!  Oh and you can't use a coupon with it now...*sigh*...but there is free shipping for orders over $35 in the U.S.

5.  Not to leave my beloved Fabric Mart out of the fabric goodness news.  Did you know that they marked all the trendy fabrics 50% off?!  Seriously, they did!  I don't know how much is left...but surf on over and see what might want to come home with you cause I'm leaving this sale alone...*LOL*

6.  Can you really talk about fabric and not talk about patterns...McCalls released their autumn patterns (Really? They released fall patterns in June during the first days of summer!?!) there were a few cute ones but I kept thinking what the heck happened with the Vogue patterns?  I was sure that new Vogue patterns would emerge from the back rooms at Vogue this week, so I was a little blindsided when autumn McCalls patterns showed up instead!  Seriously, am I that off in the rotation!?!

7.  Can't find a June Burda anywhere in the city.  And my newsstand guy is telling me that he's having some issues with GLP and deliveries!  GLP if you're listening can you release the chokehold on the issues...I ain't ever gonna subscribe and you're missing out on all the visiting sewists to the garment district during the summer!!!

8.  I started working on the jacket of the jacket/dress combo.  You would think that I picked something dowdy and pro-fessional to work with right?  You would be wrong.  Like I said earlier, I've been in a floral state of here's a sneak peek at the jacket...

Gawd, that pattern matching isn't looking that great.
Gonna have to work on that!


9.  Thanks for the interesting comments & discussion on "The Other Side" post.  It was nice to get a variety of opinions about the Connie Crawford patterns.  I also want to thank everyone for expressing their opinions and for being very civil about it.  I truly appreciate it!  But if anyone has a picture to share of their success with this or any of the CC Butterick patterns...please feel free to leave a link to a picture in the comments.  There are quite a few of us that would like to see it and applaud you on your success!

It's the weekend!  Thank goodness!  So I will probably work on the jacket/dress combo and hopefully have something to share before the weekend is ovah! always, more later!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The other side

So Jo Ann sent me this email today...and after a short exchange she said that she didn't mind if I posted the contents to the blog.

It started with this email that Jo Ann sent to Connie Crawford about my challenges with the pattern:

"Hi Connie,

Well the first dress went well and she got rave reviews but the second was not good.  Can you tell what went wrong? To me it just still looks too big for her.

Jo Ann

It is important to note that I did not ask Jo Ann to contact Connie.  It was something she did on her own. 

Connie's answer is here:
"Hi Jo Ann:

Thank you for your email. Since your email did not explain what you are comparing the dresses with (pattern numbers), I am guessing that the blog is what you wanted me to see. I am sorry to hear about your situation with this dress, however, I will offer you some hints as to what I think lead to some problems...since you asked.

In the red dress, I felt that the dress was cut without using paper (underneath the fabric). Many times when cutting a soft fabric (rayon, silk, polyester, light cottons etc.) the necklines will stretch out of place and make the garment look as if it has too much ease. Believe me this is looked at very carefully in all of my samples. Also, when cutting with paper, you can be sure to lay the center front EXACTLY on center without adding any unintentional grown from center front to the princess seam.

Now for the princess fit.... if it was possible for me to custom make a pattern for every body type, I certainly would and could. However, 80% of full figured women have lost their waistline by having a fuller stomach. Since it is easier to take in a princess seam and the side seams, I had to choose to make it for this group. And, this is the reason why we have included the princess fitting step within the sewing process. The princess seams also allow you to take out any amount of flared fullness and actually make this dress with a straight skirt look.

With the 45 years that I have been making patterns and conducting fitting seminars, I want you to know that I do make the patterns on full-figured women. Last weekend this dress was on a 1X professional model in a fashion shows and afterwards several ladies tried on this dress and it fit perfectly. I also have had several emails from women who have made this pattern and it fit perfectly since this pattern came out the first of March.

If there have been cutting mistakes, you can always measure the pattern and the fabric and see if there are any discrepencies in the pieces. I can always look at the dress personally and see what went wrong. Unfortunately, not all women are shaped the same, but I try VERY HARD to make these patterns for the full-figured women. NOBODY else does a full range of patterns for the ladies above a 2X. 15 years ago I dedicated my professional skills to make a collection of patterns for full-figured women. After all someone need to love and care for these women.

Also, on a personal note, I make 20 cents per pattern. In other words, this is strickly a dedication I have made in helping our larger customers.

Connie Crawford

As I told Jo Ann, there are two sides to every situation and it is only fair to present both sides.  Personally, I'm done with this pattern and will think 3x before purchasing another but if you own the pattern and have had success with it, would you kindly place a link to a photo in the comments so that we can see it?  It really would be nice to see some of  the successes because there are no reviews of this dress on PatternReview...and when I add mine it will have a negative bent to it based upon my experiences.

On Tuesday, I wore the B5620 dress to work and it actually wore well with the sweater buttoned over it. I got a couple of you look pretty compliments, too. So even tho the fit is suspect, it did alright in the wearability test and it will remain in my closet. always, more later!

It's time to answer some questions...

Okay, like I stated in my last post, there have been a few questions left that I really should answer.  And I would like to apologize upfront because I'm really lousy at this...answering questions I mean.  I always think I'll get back to them but time gets away from me...*sigh*

But first can I reply to a response left on the blog post, Experience vs. Enthusiasm:

Tilly wrote:
"Thanks for your thoughtful musings about my post. It's very interesting to read all the comments. Unfortunately a lack of decades of experience is something I don't have a choice about, as I only discovered the joy of sewing when I hit 30.

I don't know if I'm being overly sensitive, but some of these comments make me feel like I'm being criticised for only starting sewing in the past couple of years (there is a long - some say sad - story behind why this is, which I'm not going to go into online).

The reason I started my blog was to document my journey as a beginner. I soon realised that the fact that I was starting from scratch was encouraging other people who'd never sewn before to give it a go. And this is what I now see the point of my blog being - to inspire people to try sewing and to have fun with it.

While I may lack decades of experience, I have unbridled enthusiasm for the pleasures of making things with your own hands, precisely because it's new to me. As a wise person once said (can't remember who!), the best teacher of x is sometimes the person who has just learnt x. Not only because of their enthusiasm, but also because they know how to explain something to someone who doesn't know it, because it wasn't long ago that the teacher didn't know it either."

...this is not the entire comment but it's most of it...because Tilly brings up some good points.  However, the reason I've highlighted it is because I want Tilly and all new sewists/stitchers to know that in no way was I belittling your experience or where you are in your sewing journey.  I was attempting to encourage you to realize that you need to factor experience into your journey...and experience doesn't take decades to learn.  Some of it is learnt in weeks, months or even days...but realize that it really is experience that takes you to the next level.

Finally, I love all the new sewists/stitchers blogs.  I love the enthusiasm you have for our craft and I love the fact that it is being carried forward into the future.

Now onto the questions...

On Butterick 5620, Judidarling wrote;
"This fabric carries the day. I've never been comfortable using border prints because of my protruding stomach and large bust; I don't have a dress form, and my hems are usually longer in the front. Any hints?"

Judi - lately this has become my challenge too and I cheat.  I'm sure the fit experts have the proper technique for adding fabric somewhere in the waistline of the dress or skirt and then doing a proper hem.  Me, I add an extra inch to the back of the dress/skirt and then hem it unevenly...shorter in the front...longer in the back so that it hangs right on me.  Now if someone has the CORRECT way to make this alteration, please feel free to leave it in it the comments because I'm fully aware that I'm jerryrigging this! *LOL*

Regarding using border prints - please dive right in!  I love the uniqueness and the ability that border prints give you to think outside the box.  I've sewn quite a few borderprints lately.  I'm experiencing borderprintedness but I did buy a boatload of these last year and am just starting to use them.  Plus this is not something you see alot of in RTW plus size clothing so that makes them extra special to me.

Ann of Gorgeous Things wrote:
" I haven't tried the CC patterns, but I've found recently that the shoulder/upper chest area in most of the Vogue/McCall/Butterick patterns runs really, really big. I've had to go down two sizes (and there aint no way I'm a size 10) in that area and work from there. I wonder if they changed their sloper?"

Hey, you know I never thought of that...and thanks for pointing it out.  I will be on the lookout when I get around to using a new pattern time soon...muttering under my breathe!  *LOL*

In Another Vogue 1250, Elle asks:
"Does the stretch run parallel or perpendicular to the print? I ask because I have been eying several border print knits and am concerned about the stretch not going across the grain - where I need it. If the stretch runs vertically, did you encounter any problems in making/fitting the dress?"

Elle - I had to go and pull the dress out because honestly I never think about these things.  Seriously!  When you guys leave comments/questions sometimes I wonder why didn't I think about that!!!  Mostly I think it's because my hands are touching the fabric and contemplating what pattern to use...there is some tactile thing going on so when I'm laying the fabric on the cutting table preparing it for use...I can usually sense when something works and something doesn't.  Now wasn't that a real technical/scientific answer!  *LOL*  And for the record, after I stretched the dress, it has 4-way stretch.

Andrea asked:
"Has anyone irl ever noticed that you have 2 other dresses that are the same pattern?"

I've only worn two of these to work so far.  The gray and black one was worn with the cardigan all day so I don't think you would even realize what the underlying dress was.  However, after working here for the last five years, everyone knows I sew 90% of what I wear.  So besides compliments, the comment I get most often now is, "Did you just make that?!  It's nice!  When do you find the time!?"

Ginger asked:
"which pattern is your woven replacement?"

It is Butterick 3195 circa 2001 which is now out of print.  I need to get to this dress...I'm just gun shy right now! *LOL*  That CC dress really knocked me for a loop!

On The Great Fabric Migration, Sharon asked:
"What is your favorite way to label fabrics in your stash?"

Sharon since most of my fabric collection is from Fabric Mart it arrives with a little white sticky telling me how much I bought, how much I paid for it and how many yards are on it.  But for the pieces I get from other places, I usually add a 1"x1" square of paper that says the same thing.  It is affixed to the fabric with a straight pin.

Okay that's back 10 posts...if I missed a question, leave it in the comments section and I'll try to answer it.

Also, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for ALL of the comments you leave.  I truly appreciate the time you take to not only read my blog but to write them up.  Thanks again!!!

Parting Shot:
I'm growing tomatoes on my balcony and they are getting big! always, more later!

Monday, June 20, 2011

I'm too close...

...or Butterick 5620 - Part Deux

Okay I couldn't leave well enough alone...I mean it was really bugging me that I couldn't get B5620 to fit.  So what do I do...I go to the nearest fabric bin (the one in my bedroom) and pull out another piece of fabric (woven silk from Fabric Mart a few seasons ago) and proceed to make another dress.

The first thing I do is cut the pattern pieces down...size 2x on the top (it was so obviously loose on the 1st version) and a 3x on the bottom.  I lay the fabric down and cut it out.  I proceed to sew it up.  Already I can tell that this is a much smaller version...that's good, right?  Since I'm not using a border print and I've just made this dress, the construction is fast.  I mean about 2 hours worth of fast.

I slip the dress on for the first fitting and WTF!  Seriously, the dress is still too big in the bodice and too tight in the waistline.  Pulling out the pattern instructions, I see that the pattern has made an allowance for this possibility...I should take in the upper bodice seams and let out the waist area seams.  So I do this.  And yeah right...that's still not working...

At this point I'm disgusted and head for bed.  A good night's sleep always makes these problems solveable.  So after work Friday evening, I'm ready to tackle the challenge to make this dress fit.  I remove 1/4" from seams...I add 1/4" in other places...I try the dress good.  Something is off here.  So I pull out one of my favorite princess seam flare dresses, Vogue 9220, to compare and right away I notice that the front seams that go over my bustline are slightly off in the Butterick dress.  Because of that I'm missing the bust definition that I need.  Also on the B5620 dress, when you stitch the side fronts to the front piece, they form a cupping almost like bra fronts.  When you hold the piece up, it's formed like a mannequin...ummm this is a little off-putting.  Because when I made the V9220 dress, I did not have this experience.

Now I'm disgusted and feeling like I just can't sew...and it hit me...this must be what newbies feel like when they make a garment and it doesn't look like the pattern envelope.  It's been awhile since I've felt like this...there really was an anguish that washed over me and made me feel incompetent.  I swear I had to go and physically touch the last few garments I've made to realize that I do know what I'm doing.

So what to do?  What to do??  Well, my thought is that I'm gonna salvage this dress.  I've got almost 4 yards of fabric invested...that I could just let go of...but I don't want to.  It is obvious now to me that something is off with the pattern drafting.  It is also obvious to me that this is why I use TNTs so much...but I digress.

Another night's sleep and I fix the dress as best as I can...even tho' there were some serious moments when I thought about taking the scissors to it and making it a skirt...I realize that a cardigan can camoflage alot and I'm working the camoflage for all it's worth. 

Here's a few pictures of the dress as it is now:

A hand on the hip always
makes a dress look better

Except two hands on the
hips are even better

No spanx, no holding my breathe
...reality speaks and it sucks!

As you can see I added some sleeves...tho' I'm not sure about them.  I may take them out and just add more binding to the armholes...but I don't know.  What I do know is that I'm too close to this dress.  I need to let it sit.  I've done what I think I can to fix it and it's still not working...and I wonder if Connie Crawford's patterns aren't designed with apple shaped women in mind. You know women with large shoulders and large bustlines but who are slimmer through the waistline and thighs unlike this pear shaped woman who carries all of her weight in her stomach, butt and thighs.

So I am running, not walking, not stopping to think to hard about this to my TNT patterns.  I have a wonderful floral print on the ironing board (last step in the pretreatment process) and a coordinating linen blend.  I think a nice jacket and dress from some TNT patterns will help me focus.

Then and only then will I come back to this.  Maybe it should be sleeveless.  Maybe it should be cut off and made into a skirt, to salvage some of the fabric...but it's not working as is...and I know that if I'm not comfortable in it, I won't wear it.

Finally, please don't buy this pattern.  I really believe that something is wrong with the drafting.  Your comments were very kind and very real (Rachelle! *LOL*) but the first dress is ill-fitting and I'm well aware of that fact.  I may go back in and run one more line of stitching down the bodice front to get rid of some of the excess fabric...however, I'm happy wearing it with a cardigan.  I love the border print and the flare of the skirt.  As many of you noted, it really is the dress' saving grace.

Next up...questions and answers!  There have been a couple of questions left in the last couple of blog posts and I really should answer them, right!  *LOL*

...more later!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Butterick 5620

This is one of Butterick's new plus size dress patterns by Connie Crawford.  And the jury is definitely out on this one...


Pattern Description:
This simplistic dress B design has front and back princess seams, a gentle flare, back zipper and finishes just below the knee. Button-front unlined jacket A with cap sleeves coordinates with this classic easy-to-wear dress. This classic pattern is fabulously feminine but has an office-appropriate look.

Linen jacquard border print from Fabric Mart

20" invisible zipper
2.5 yards hem facing
3 yards white bemberg lining

First let me say that this is a wearable muslin...and I say "wearable" very loosely.  I don't know what I was thinking but I cut a size 4x in this pattern...why?  I guess I thought that if I made it bigger, it was easier to cut down than using a smaller size.  Well the joke was on me because I spent an entire day taking all of that extra fabric out of the pattern and I'm not that sure I was very successful in the end.

Barbara Emodi (Sewing on the Edge blog) wrote this article called "10 Sewing Rules to Never Break" for Stitches Vol. 19, No. 6.  Here is rule number 4:
"Remember that it is always easier to make a pattern larger than it is to make a pattern smaller"

Yeah well I should have remembered that before I started this project! *sigh*

So construction:
1.  The fabric I chose was thin and see through.  So I decided to underline the entire garment in white bemberg lining.  This was my second choice, my first would have been cotton batiste but it seems that I only have pieces of that left in my lining stash, not enough to use for an entire dress.

2.  So every piece had to be cut out twice, basted together and then serged finished before I could begin construction.  But let's not forget that since I chose to use a border print to make this, I had to lay it out so that the border print would work all the way around the dress.

3.  This dress is easy to construct and instead of nasty facings, the pattern actually instructs you to use bias binding for the neckline and armholes.  There are also very detailed instructions on how to fit the dress for a larger abdomen and how to raise or lower the armhole openings depending on how large your arm is.  I would give the instruction very high marks for helping a plus size sewist work with her particular fitting challenges.

4.  Like I said before, construction is easy and all the pattern pieces fit together well.  You just need to start with the CORRECT size to get a good fit.

So another shot of how I will wear the dress to work:

a good cardigan always
covers a multitude of sins!

I will make this again...I have least to prove to myself that I can make it work!  I think I've narrowly escaped making this a wadder by using every trick in the book I know...and the fit is still a little wonky. The fabric is totally saving this dress.  At one point I almost pulled it apart and laid my TNT dress pattern over it and recut it.  But I learned a very valuable lesson...ALWAYS cut the right size! *LOL* always, more later!

p.s.  I had lunch with some friends today and they thought the dress looked pretty good...I'm not sold yet...but look for the next version tomorrow...I just don't know when to say when!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A skirt or two (Summer Edition)...

I was digging around in the fabric closet and found this great piece of cotton/lycra sateen.  It was 2 yards long...long enough to be a dress but lately I've been shying away from dresses made from this fabrication.  But the fabric was fun, bright and summery so I figured a 4 gore skirt would be perfect for it.

As you can see here:

It works well for what I wanted.  The skirt is made from my TNT 4 gore skirt pattern and it was easy to make because I constructed it almost entirely on my serger.  Did I tell you how much I'm loving my serger these days!  Especially since I've finally gotten the hang of threading it!

A few days before I'd made another straight skirt from the leftover beige tropical wool from Butterick 5598.  I cut it out at the same time that I cut out B5598 and it was getting in the way because I kept moving it around my cutting table and bed whenever I started a new project.  So I thought it would just be easier to sew it up than to keep moving it here it is with a RTW tank top and cardigan.

There is nuthin new to the construction.  It is a basic lined skirt with an invisible zipper and a button/buttonhole closure on the waistline.  It will be fine for a summer work day...professional without being banker professional...y'know what I mean.

Tomorrow, I'll show you the wearable muslin of Butterick always, more later!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Half way through the year...

I'm working on Butterick 5620 and am having some challenges with this it got me to thinking about my sewing so far this year...

Because I pledged to not only buy but sew up many of the new plus size patterns that Butterick produced (I know they did so because of my incessant blog b*t*hing...right?) *LOL*  I've moved quite a bit outside my sewing comfort zone...which of course led me to think on exactly what I have sewn so far this year.

I know many of you think of me as The Queen of Dresses and the TNT pattern but that hasn't actually been the sum total of my sewing experiences this year.  Yes, January and February started off with a lot of TNT pattern use - but seriously, I'm NEVAH fitting another pair of pants so you will see a version of this pattern until the day I die.  Otherwise, my Versace adventure was based upon my TNT pattern and a new pattern to me...Vogue 7617 (OOP)...which I would actually like to use again.

March - brought skirts and a jacket from Simplicity 2958.  I love this jacket and actually have plans for a spring/summer version of it.  Again more use of TNT patterns but not a dress in sight!  Two jackets and two skirts were added to the wardrobe...even though I started working on Butterick 5598...which is still sitting on my cutting table...*sigh*
April - began the love affair with Vogue 1250.  The first version out of the black and white ponte knit was such an easy and fulfilling experience that the obsession was on! *LOL*  Two other dresses were added to the wardrobe ~ both from knit fabrics and the second version of V1250 in a gray & black knit print.

May - brought more Vogue 1250 love.  The brightly colored rayon version that I made for Mother's Day and a knit dress from my TNT pattern that bought me more than a little bit of grief - the Knit Circle & Stripes Dress.  I also finished Butterick 5600 - made using a border print linen from Elliott Berman and my version of The Rachel Skirt - Vogue 1247.

Which brings us to I did finish my Christine Jonson Princess Seam Dress during the first days of June but it's journey was a large part of the last few weeks of May.  I have to tell you that I love this dress.  I love the way that I look in it and how it makes me feel - confident, pretty and yes, even slim - well for this plus size woman! *smile*  Another V1250 dress and two skirts that I've yet to blog about complete the number of garments sewn so far this year.

For an actual count, I've made one pair of pants, two jackets, seven skirts and eleven dresses so far this year...for a total of 21 pieces.  I've used 40.5 yards of fabric and six new patterns.  Okay that's a lot of new patterns for me! I'm in awe of sewists who use a new pattern for each new garment.  I think I would give up sewing if I had to do that! *LOL*

And now I'm working on Butterick 5620...another new pattern filled with new fitting challenges.  I have a date with my seam ripper because in some crazy portion of my brain...I imagine myself much heavier than I actually am and need to remove "inches and inches" of fabric to make this thing work!  I am feening...feening I tell you for a TNT pattern...expect one with a quickness and a hurry soon after this dress is done. always, more later!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another Vogue 1250

I know I should let this pattern go.  I know I have three versions of this pattern hanging in the closet before I started this one...but I just needed one more.  When I was digging around in the fabric closet and my hands touched this Anna Sui border print, it screamed that it wanted to be another version of Vogue 1250...and who am I to tell it no!

This fabric was purchased by quite a few people from Fabric Mart last summer and made into some amazing garments.  It took me a minute to use mine but I think it works well with this pattern.  I have no new construction tips to add to what I've previously written about this dress, here or here.  This is just a great, easy-to-wear, easy-to-construct dress that works for my professional wardrobe.

However, this will probably be the last time (I hope!) that I make this dress in a knit since I've finally found a pattern in my enormous pattern collection that has the same type of neckline but uses a woven fabric.  I've pulled a silk crepe from the collection and made a horrible wadder of a dress because I cut it on the bias.  For the next incarnation, I will cut it on the straight grain using a printed silk crepe (also from the collection)...more about this in a future post.

Here's one final picture of the dress with a RTW knit I will most likely wear it! always, more later!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Great Fabric Migration

Normally by now I've done the great fabric switchover.  It usually happens sometime during the end of May/beginning of June because by then I'm invested in sewing summer garments.  Along with the great fabric migration, there's usually a post about how much fabric I own.  I mean taking it out of the fabric closet and the bins in the living room and my bedroom and laying it all out to stack, fold, separate and replace is normally a sobering moment.  However, that won't be happening this year.
This year the migration will have to wait.  Yes, that's right...I won't be switching fabrics around this year.  No removing fabric candidates that were pulled for possible garments last fall but never made it from flat fold folding and unfolding of treasures inspiring moments remembering when a piece was purchased and who I was with...those memories are on hold this year.

Why do you ask?  Well the great sewing room make over will occur either late summer or early fall and I just don't want to move fabric more times than I have too.  Hopefully the new wall of shelving that I am adding to the sewing room will handle all of this overflow fabric and I will no longer have to switch fabric around from season to season.

So this summer I'll be digging around in the fabric closet or picking through the bins to make new pieces.  I'm trying not to complain...trying to understand that even though this is challenging now...that soon I will have a brand spanking new sewing room and this minor inconvenience will be forgotten.

I'm off to sew...since I spent last night pulling fabric candidates out of the fabric closet for a few new pieces for work...

...more later!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Experience vs. Enthusiasm

My friend Elizabeth has been turning me onto alot of new bloggers.  Sewists that I don't normally read because hey, I just don't have the time to spend every waking minute on the internet...tho' some days it seems as if I do!  *LOL*

What amazes and thrills me about this younger generation of bloggers (yes, younger generation since many of them could be my daughters!) is the excitement they have for the craft.  It's like watching my own children learn how to walk again...that's what reading their blogs is like.  And it's very, very comforting to me to know that my craft has not been forsaken but it is being enjoyed and carried on.

However, I read this post, "Becoming an Advanced Level Stitcher" on Tilly's blog, "Tilly and the Buttons" that was very interesting to me especially after these comments were left on my last dress post.

Kathryn said:
"I like the way you followed your experience and matched a knit to this pattern that suits you personally. It's a great lesson in studying fabric and determining whether it will work on one's body."

and Clio said:
"...And it makes me realize how there really is no substitute for experience when it comes to sewing..."

It made me realize that the one thing left out of Tilly's and her commenters equation was experience.  Now please understand, I am not criticizing her blog post, the comments left or their enthusiam.  I am adding my own spin to it.  And my take on it is that enthusiam or passion for the craft is an awesome thing.  Learning new techniques is wonderful but it's experience that truly takes you to the next level.

I am a huge Star Trek fan...and I love the Star Trek movies best.  One of my favorite ones is Star Trek Insurrection...where the Enterprise crew goes to this planet where the people never seem to age and they live a life without technology.  At one point Picard walks through the village talking to the leader of the village and he points out some quilts and weaving...stating how spectacular they are.  The leader says that it was done by apprentices and she gives some figures on how many years you have to apprentice before you move to the next level.

All of that to say that I believe that it's techniques + talent + experience that takes you to the next level.  Experience let's you know how to handle a situation that's not working for you.  Experience is liking driving home from work, you know how to get there and what to do to detour if there is an accident on a street near your home.  Experience is a sense memory...a developed muscle that assists you when you are lost.  But most importantly, experience only comes from doing something repeatedly...from being in the same situation more than once...

So I think it's very encouraging that these new sewists (or stitchers as Tilly calls them - love that!) are developing lists of techniques to learn but don't forget that experience (the doing something over and over and over again) will also help get you to the next level and determine if you are an intermediate or advanced stitcher.

BTW, I only consider myself an intermediate and not an advanced stitcher yet and I've been doing this for 41 years...practically non-stop!  *LOL* always, more later

Tuesday, June 07, 2011


Every once in awhile someone will ask how much closet space do I have because of all the garments I sew.  I can understand the question especially since on average I make about 50-55 garments every year.  That's a lot of clothing...I'm sure a lot more than I would purchase in a year.

So how do I store them?  Do I have a magic closet that expands and contracts?  Do I have some secret way of packing them all in? actuality I m a relentless purger because my closet is a normal size, double door affair with one very long shelf on the top.

Earlier this year, I purged sweaters, turtlenecks, twinsets, pieces that were old, worn, never worn much or just not what I was wearing anymore.  Since I purchased quite a few new twinsets this winter, the old needed to make way for the new.

This time around I tackled my dresses and skirts.  Over the last three years, I've made quite a few (stop laughing...I know that's an understatement!).  So some had to go.  To be honest this was the hardest purge that I've had to do in some time because ALL of my dresses are made by me (not a purchased one in the bunch)...and they've come to be my babies.  But as you must push your children out into the world to make their own was time for these to move aside...journey to new that new loves could be stored.

Here are some of my dresses that have been retired:

(L-R:  print silk sheath dress, blue/white print cotton dress, silk flower wadder,
one of my original TNT dresses from a cotton pique print,
brown eyelet dress & jacket,
reversible dress and red crepe dress from SWAP 2007)

And now two large green garbage bags are waiting to be picked up by the Salvation Army...and I think I'm going to go through my shoe collection and add a few pairs to the pile!  Especially since some new (*shoegasm* - thanks Clio for that word!) has been added to the collection.

So do you retire garments?  Donate them?  Or do you have a closet full of several sizes, and several decades? I know the closet specialists tell you that if you haven't worn something in a year it should be purged.  I'm not quite that strict anymore...I mean I have a lot of clothes and sometimes the season gets away from me before I can wear them.  But I do subscribe to the if it doesn't make you happy to wear it...if it's too fidgety on...or if you are holding onto it for sentimental reasons, maybe it's time it should go theory.

Tell you retire and/or purge?  It's the question of the day, so talk back to me! always, more later!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Another CJ Princess Seam Dress

Audrey of Sew Tawdry wrote:
"Somehow I couldn't picture a CJ pattern and fabric combo working for you. But I think the style of the dress is interesting and very flattering."

You know I use to feel the same way.  It's one of the reasons why I hadn't used her patterns before.  Purchased them ~ yes.  Admired them on others ~ most definitely.  But figuring out if they would work for me ~ didn't think so especially since most of them are designed to work with knits...and you know how iffy I am about knits.

So it is amazing to me that of the last 6 dresses I've made 5 have been constructed using a knit fabric...

Anyway, here is the next version of the CJ Princess Seam Dress.

There are a couple of changes.

1.  I altered all of the pieces by adding a 1/4 inch to each side seam.  Even though many thought the original dress flattering on me, I didn't.  I don't like close fitting garments.  I'm happier when a garment gives the illusion of fitting closely but actually skims my body.  Probably why I like those 1960s silhouettes so much!

2.  I traced additional pieces for the back and side so that all of the pieces would lay singly on top of the fabric.  I wanted to insure that the border print matched all the way around the dress.

3.  I lined the dress.  Boy did that give the dress some heft and you can't see one bump or lump now.

4.  Even though I followed Christine's directions exactly at the neckline, my lining was still rolling slightly to the front.  So I added another line of stitching to hold it flat.  I'm sure its something I did rather than there's a problem with her instructions...especially since the directions gives you a heads up about the challenge and how to resolve it.

5.  I cut sleeves for the dress but after trying it on decided that I would just make it sleeveless.  I have more than enough cardigans to wear with it.

6.  Instead of a serged hem, I added three inches to this version and the dress has a one inch hem sewn down using a twin needle.

Even though I've fabric pulled to make another one...I'm going to give this pattern a rest for a minute.  I need to let this pattern marninate before tackling it again.  Plus I have sooooo many things I want to make that I think I will revisit this pattern again for early fall sewing.  It would be great with 3/4 sleeves, a sleeveless turtleneck and tights.

Some stats:

I used a polyester knit from the $2.97 table at GStreet Fabrics.  It's slightly heavier than the original rayon/lycra knit but still has the drape necessary to create that beautiful fall at the hemline.

It is lined with tricot lining from which I've used in several of my knit dresses.

A few additional shots:

hands on hips pose

side view

back view

with a cardigan

I really do like this dress...even more now that I've done hair and make-up and had my handy photographer take pictures!  *LOL*  I'm also thankful to Christine for trusting me to review her pattern and fabrics.  I hope that I've done them justice and that I've encouraged someone to try out her line, as well as, her fabrics.  I'm thinking about taking your advice and making a top from the first we'll see.  I would hate to have that beautiful fabric just laying around my apt! 

However, I now have a quandry about what to wear tomorrow!  Now that the restrictions are "gone" I feel like I have an abundance of choices... always, more later! 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Butterick 5600 Done

This dress has been done for awhile...actually before my two week blogging hiatus.  It has been hanging waiting for all of the meetings at my job to be finished so that it can be worn...because it definitely does not fit into the "professional" look necessary for those meetings.

I am busting out all of my floral dresses this week as an antidote to all the black, black/white, navy and gray that I've worn for the last month.  This will be one of the first ones I wear.  However, even tho' I have a completed dress, I would call this pattern a fail and I'm not sure that it's the pattern's fault.  Let's tell the truth here...I must of been delusional when I thought I would be able to make the belt portion of this dress work for me.  I have no discernable waistline on the front of me...babies, age, menopause and a refusal to work out have robbed me of a front waistline...and the only reason I appear to have one in the back is because I've been blessed with the family booty...not all female members of my family have...

So after much fussing with...adding and removing it from the fabric...making a sash and tying it a multitude of DD echoed what I was thinking when she said I was fighting a losing battle.  Here is my version of the Butterick 5600 dress styled two different ways:

without the sash

with the sash & a tank top beneath the dress

Some stats:

Blue linen border print from Elliot Berman

8 blue buttons from GStreet Fabrics in Rockville
White rayon ambiance lining
scraps of pro-weft interfacing from Pams
blue rayon hem tape

I discussed the pattern alterations in this post.  The changes I made to the construction of this dress are:

1.  I underlined all of the dress pieces with lining fabric by basting the fabric and lining pieces together and then serging them.  The linen is a little lightweight and see-through.  Adding the lining gave the finished dress a little heft and eliminated any sheerness.

2.  I omitted the tabs on the sleeves.  To make them work I had to make the sleeves tighter and I liked the looseness of the sleeves.  Which came about because I enlarged the bicep area of the sleeve quite a bit and then I cut the sleeve on the bias thus causing the sleeve hem to have a little more give. 

3.  The band at the neckline was cut from the darker end of the border print.  The original dress also had tabs cut from the darker border but as noted above they weren't working for me so I left them off.

4.  Without a belt this is just a short sleeve button front dress, however, the pattern from the fabric is what makes this special in my eyes.  With the sash, it looks something like the pattern but not exactly.

So while I didn't add all of the components of the dress that appealed to me most, I did end up with a wearable dress...and I guess that's something!  *LOL*

A few more pictures:

the back

a close-up of my shoes
(aren't they fabulous!)

and with The Little Prince always, more later!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A few more thoughts on the CJ Dress

I'm sure those who believe in muslins are wondering if I had made a muslin wouldn't that have resolved my fit issues.  However, what bothers me most about this dress is the thinness of the rayon/lycra fabric.  And it's not even that it isn't a great piece of fabric...because it's the fact that I don't do such thin rayon knits on my bodacious body.  In a slightly heavier knit, I would have lived without the minor changes that I will now make to the pattern.

The second thing that I'm not sure I emphasized enough is that I really do like this pattern and have already thought up three new versions of this dress.  I will most likely line the entire dress in the tricot knit, just because I like a lined dress better than an unlined one. 

Length - I am firmly in the camp of dresses that end just slightly below my knees are most attractive and comfortable on me.  So I will definitely add to the hemline of the dress.  And I have one or two pieces that have a serged hem but it is not my hem of choice.  I would much rather have a finished, well-pressed hem.

Finally, from working with this pattern I can already "see" the next two versions.  This is a good thing because then I have a roadmap or a plan to work from...I have a thin ponte knit in my fabric collection that will provide the coverage I want, yet give me the drape I need.  I also have a printed rayon knit that I purchased this year on the great fabric shopping trip (Do you recognize it Shams & Peggy?) that will work well for this definitely look for the next renditions of this dress because it's sort of gotten into my blood... always, more later! 


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