Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Miscellany

It's Sunday and while I've been thinking of sewing I haven't been doing much and still haven't taken pictures of the Carolyn Top so instead I'm sharing a few thoughts...

  • Today is the last day of January and in 25 days I will be in Seattle for the weekend! Yes!!!! This time I plan to spend some time sewing with Gaylen and fabric shopping in Seattle.
  • In 11 days, TGIT comes back on and I can finally find out what happened to Annelise on HTGWM, what's going on with Olivia Pope and the Gladiators, but most importantly who the h*ll messed with Meredith on Gray's Anatomy - yes these are my personal friends and I don't care if you believe it or not.
  • I used the last of my VISA gift card for a fabric purchase of ITY knits from Fabric Mart. I posted this picture to Instagram of the new fabrics ~
  •  
  • Oh and I bought a couple of patterns too!
  • So no more fabric purchases until I get to Puyallup and the Marcy Tilton booth where I can touch pieces for myself. 
  • I've decided to make another topper like the last one but with the adjustments I suggested using this fabric ~
  • Toppers allow me to wear a "visible" me-made with RTW which helps me feel a little more like myself! Because it's gonna take years to get back to 90% of my wardrobe being me-made again.
  • It was so cold last week that I was swathed in cashmere to keep warm, so glad the temperatures will be more moderate this week! Will be able to wear more me-made.
  • The grandbabies were here most of the weekend so another reason no sewing was going on.

Hopefully when it calms down this weekend, I will get back into the sewing cave.  There are a couple of things that I want to make before I head to Seattle, so I need some sewing time.  Thank goodness for President's Day weekend!

Did you get to sew this weekend? I hope so!

...as always more later!



Friday, January 29, 2016

The Evolution of a Pattern

I was thinking about my journey with Vogue 1247 ~ how the skirt became a dress and then a topper...and I thought all of the info should be in one post...so that's what follows. BTW, if you don't want to see the pattern evolution skip to the bottom, the finished topper is there!

The First Vogue 1247 Skirt ~
My first version of Vogue 1247 was made shortly after the pattern came out. I loved the skirt but hated how short it was.  Then another blogger, Adonishing Dressing for Dinner, just lengthened the skirt and made an amazing version so I had to have one. I made my first version of this skirt in May 2011:


To get my first skirt ~
  • I used my TNT skirt pattern and widened the pattern pieces to fit my body which was about a size 26/28 then.
  • Then I lengthened the skirt front and back bottoms to make the skirt just a little longer than knee length.
  • The bias binding was omitted and I lined my version.
  • It has a skinny waistband with an invisible zipper and button/buttonhole closure. 
* * * * *

Next was "The Rachel Dress" ~
That first version of the skirt inspired the dress which I called "The Rachel Dress." I was inspired by a PYT that I saw when standing in line at Chipolte (at the time I worked around the corner from Oprah's Magazine and Hearst Publications) who was wearing a shift dress with those inset pockets. 

Of course I thought of using the skirt and my TNT dress pattern to get my own version. This dress was made in July 2011.


I made dress pattern pieces to get a garment with the working invisible pockets. The pattern alteration post is here. However, I have to share the making of this pattern piece in-process because it's kinda cool...

  • This dress was made from linen.
  • Buttons and buttonholes were added to the pocket inset.
  • Black piping was added to the neckline and armholes.
  • The dress is lined in blue rayon bemberg.
  • Lace was added to the lining hem ~ which was my signature technique added to lining hems.
* * * * * 

The Rachel Dress Number Two ~
I loved wearing the original dress so much so that I made a winter version in March 2012.


For this version I emphasized the pockets with black gimp trim and used an amazing piece of herringbone fabric that was appliqued with lace pieces. That black gimp was hand stitched to the dress front, a look inspired by pieces from Chanel's Couture Spring 2012 line. All construction details can be found here. This fabric presented some challenges because care needed to be taken with it to get a finished dress.

I put the pattern away after this because there were so many other versions of dresses to make using my TNT pattern, inspiration pieces and/or new dress patterns.

* * * * *

A Topper from The Rachel Dress ~
A weight loss, a job and lifestyle change (hey it snowed buckets last Saturday but I worked from home on Monday cause that's one of the perks of the new job. No trudging out in the snow for me!) inspired me to make a new Vogue 1247 skirt in denim late last year.

I believe that working with the pattern again, loving those invisible pockets and finally realizing that I can be as creative as I want with my wardrobe, led to this new topper.


Inspiration ~
My last post details what inspired me and how I came to make this topper. The one thing I didn't discuss was why a topper? I've bought enough bottoms (leggings/slim pants) to wear to work for two weeks and I have loads of tops/sweaters/tanks still in the collection to wear with them. So figuring out what inspires me to want to sew has come down to toppers, shirts and skirts this winter. But you know me, I can't just sew a pattern...I need to do something to it to make it unique and distinctly me.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will wear mostly RTW every day because I need time to make new garments. This means the me-made pieces I do sew, I want to be distinctive.  Toppers or jackets fill that need.

The Supply List ~
2 yards of a Printed Brocade from Fabric Mart
3/4 yard of black ponte from Metro Textiles
Gray Rayon Bemberg Lining

Pattern Alterations ~
I used the pattern pieces from The Rachel Dress because the pattern had what I needed to make the garment I was seeing in my mind. However, I did make all new pieces for several reasons.

~ One because I needed to shorten the pattern pieces from dress length to tunic length. 
~ Two I needed to make facings for the front and back pieces which I ended up not using.
~ Three I was pulling pattern pieces from other envelopes - pocket from the Rachel Comey pattern and the sleeve from my TNT tunic pattern - so I decided to trace new pieces to stay with this grouping because after wearing the topper, I want to make more.
~ Pattern pieces were made for the jacket front top, the jacket front bottom and two back pieces, a new pocket piece and a sleeve. 

Actual Pattern Alterations were:
1. The dress top front had you place the pattern on the fold. Instead I made it two separate front pieces then added 1 5/8 inches to the center front of each piece. 
2. The same 1 5/8 inches was added to the bottom front piece. 
3. The back piece had a center back seam but instead of being separate top and bottom pieces, I just lengthened the top piece to the same length as the combined front pieces. 
4. No change was made to the sleeves.

Construction Details ~
Even after making those pockets in 2 dresses and 2 skirts, I still need the pattern instructions to sew them together...sad I know! *LOL* There were no real construction challenges once I figured out those pockets...it was a pretty straightforward sew.

I did add a lining. I used a gray bemberg because I only have enough black in stock to line a skirt. The lining was made by cutting out the front and backs after they were sewn together in the fashion fabric. I wanted a solid lining without a lot of seams.  The jacket is lined to the edge and is free hanging, tacked at the hem seams so it doesn't fly away.

The sleeves are made from a black ponte to give the topper a sweatery, casual like feel since I used such a formal fabric. No button/closure was on the inspiration piece so I didn't add one to mine. When I wore it to work, I used one of the many pins I own, trying to re-purpose the jewelry collection y'know.

The pictures were taken at work by one of my colleagues using my iPad. I sit next to her and we talk all day long. She's one of the reasons I like the new job so much! She was really getting into it, kneeling down and shooting up, trying for angles...I was a little blown away that she accomplished so much in five short minutes!

A few more Pictures ~



This was so comfortable to wear! I felt dressed but not overly dressed. The ponte sleeves were comfortable and allowed me to push them up or wear them down. I even garnered a few compliments!

I definitely want to make this again but with these improvements:
*Raise the neckline - make it more jacket, less dress.
*Widen the shoulder seams - again more jacket, less dress.
*Lower the under arm seam - I cheated with this one by using the serger to achieve a lower underarm.
*Trying to decide if I want to remove some of the a-lineness of the topper bottom.

I do want to try it as a vest. Can you imagine that a pattern that started life as a skirt...has become a dress...now a topper and quite possibly a vest too. Sometimes it helps to think outside the box!

...as always more later!




Monday, January 25, 2016

A Rachel Coat - Part 1 - The Inspiration

I had bronchitis a couple of weeks ago so I spent some quality time in bed watching movies, all the tv shows and movies I'd DVR'd, and surfing the web on my iPad. 

This site, StyleWe, kept popping up as a banner ad everywhere I went which was unusual since I'd never visited their website. However, one of the ads had this coat which caught my eye.


So since I had nothing else to do, I surfed on over and checked out the coat. That's when my imagination went into overdrive. I love those inset pockets! And it reminded me of the Rachel Dress that I've made a couple of times, nevermind the Rachel Skirt which started it all. Then I realized my Rachel Dress pattern was perfectly adaptable as a jacket/topper.

Mentally I started to rumble through my fabric collection and came up with a wool flannel print that I'd bought from Emmaonesock last year. 



When I finally felt well enough to go down to the Sewing Cave, I discovered a brocade fabric that came from Fabric Mart that I liked a lot better.



See I envision my version of this coat as a topper to wear over jeans or leggings with soft ponte sleeves. You know elevating that everyday work look to the Chicos Chic wardrobe I'm attempting to create.

Originally I was going to have just one post, detailing the inspiration idea, how I altered my pattern pieces to make them work, and pictures of me in the final garment.  However, on Instagram I got asked WIDRN - it's a hashtag going around that lets you see what other sewists/knitters/crocheters are working on. So I posted this picture ~



I didn't just want to post the jacket front without a reference to the coat because who would understand that?! However what I did post started a conversation about what pattern was used? Where could someone purchase the pattern? And I realized that maybe I needed to talk about what inspires me to sew/create something.

What drew me to the garment first and foremost was ~ the pockets. Then the simplicity of the design. I never meant to duplicate the coat. I wanted the elements of the coat to be used in a topper. That's why my Rachel Dress was the jump off point for me. It had the elements that I wanted with the clean design. I could see the alterations I needed to do, to make the pattern work for me.

Finally my version detoured from the original because I used ponte fabric for sweater like sleeves. This is a look that's been circling around my brain for a minute. It works for me because this garment fits my lifestyle now...but most importantly because I NEVER intended to duplicate the original garment.

Here's where the topper stands now ~



When it's finished and I have photos of me wearing it, I will post pattern alterations and construction techniques because I did have to figure out a few things. Things that a picture couldn't tell me...things that I had to decide for myself to get the garment I imagined.

So this is what was on my cutting table and in my sewing machine this weekend. BTW, after moving the 8900 around and then cleaning it out, in all the hidden places besides my regular places, my machine is sewing again. I think it just wanted a rest! *LOL* However, before I head out to Seattle next month, I will take it in for servicing...cause it just can't hurt!

...as always more later! 









Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sewing and Technology in 2016

Back in January 2009, I wrote a blog post about technology and sewing. It was a discussion about how technology is changing the way we as sewists communicate with each other. Now seven years later there are even more changes.

I mean you can read a post on your phone, your iPad or tablet or your computer. You can see a picture with some discussion on Instagram. Pinterest will allow you to pin a picture, search a topic, or just see what's going on with the pattern companies. Then there are the sewing boards - PatternReview and Stitchers Guild. Let's not forget Twitter (though I think it's starting to fade in the sewing world) and the newbies on the block SnapChat and Periscope.


Now while I'm an active user of Instagram and Pinterest, I also finally set up a Twitter account but to be honest I only set it up to follow the conversations of the Empire and Scandal casts! I don't have a SnapChat account but that's because my daughters threatened to take my phone from me if I did! hahahahahaha! And even though I'm intrigued by Periscope, have yet to set up an account.


Hey I can lose hours on YouTube ~ do I really need another time suck that will eat up precious sewing time? So my Question of the Day (yes, I'm going back to Q&A Days in 2016) is how many social media platforms do you participate in and why?  If you use these forms of social media, how does it affect your sewing time? Are these new platforms necessary to learn techniques and improve your sewing or communicate with your fellow sewists? From all of the examples above, which forms of social media do you think are necessary to keep current in today's sewing world?

That's the "Question of the Day" so talk back to me!?!

...as always more later!


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Blog Appearance & A Winner

I woke up on Monday and my blog background and text were all effed up. Best I can figure is that blogger discontinued the blog template that I've used for the last couple of years. But just to make sure, I slid over to Amanda and Tany's blog, which also used the same template and realized that theirs were different too.

So Monday morning I messed around with the blog template and design. What you're reading is what I've settled on but I'm not sure I will keep it. It looks okay on my iPad, my iPhone and my computer but I want to look at it at night on the bus going home in the dark. I may yet change the template again. 

Comments? Can you read it on your devices? Is it hard to see? 

* * * * *

I'm sure quite a few of you have been checking the blog to see the winner of the Claire Shaeffer book.  

The winner is:


If you leave your email address in the comments section, I will send you a note.

* * * * * 

Last weekend was a three day weekend in the US and normally I spend as much quality time with my sewing machine as possible...maybe it's because my 8900 is sitting waiting to go to the shop...maybe it's because it's so dayum cold here that all I can think of is swathing myself in my cashmere sweaters...or maybe it's because after cleaning and rearranging my room I realize I have so many tops that I've just lost my desire to sew...

Now let's note that I've lost my desire to sew but NOT my desire to create! So I pulled out my crochet hooks and started on this baby blanket for someone I work with...her baby is just a month old so this will still be good for the rest of the winter.


Of course that set off a desire to crochet something other than a baby blanket...so I'm checking through my crochet books and mags to see if I want to spend more quality time with my hooks and yarn.

BTW, I still have to share the Carolyn Top with you. I finally took the top over to have buttonholes put on it this week, so I will probably have pictures up this weekend...well that depends on the weather.  It's been so dreary here lately!

...as always more later!


Monday, January 18, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday in the United States. In years past, I've posted quotes, videos and told stories of how much this day means to me.



This year I'm posting a list of the black men, women and children murdered by the police and others in America in recent years. 

I'd like to take a moment of silence for these Black Lives that were lost ~


Travyon Martin

Michael Brown

Walter Scott

Eric Garner

Tamar Rice

Sandra Bland

LaQuan McDonald

Bettie Jones

Quintonio LeGrier


Finally, the parishioners of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC who were gunned down by a racist 21 year old ~
  • Sr. Pastor & State Senator Clementa C. Pickney
  • Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
  • Susie Jackson
  • Ethel Lee Lance
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Tywanza Sanders
  • Daniel Simmons
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  • Myra Thompson

Somehow, I think the man who penned the "I Have A Dream" speech would be heavy-hearted at the state of race relations in America. 

We have so far to go...













Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vogue 8090 in Denim

After finishing up the denim V1247 skirt, I decided that I'd use the rest of the denim for this topper. However, since everything has changed and I no longer have tried 'n true patterns to use as "slopers" for new patterns, I'm starting from scratch with each new pattern I sew.



Therefore, I research each new pattern before I use it. I must note here that this pattern is out-of-print (OOP) but still probably in a lot of your stashes. My first stop on the research train is PatternReview. I love the pattern review database and want to thank everyone who contributes to it. 

There are only 7 reviews of this pattern with most of them being made in 2011 when the pattern was released. Although someone did make one during the summer of 2015. While I'm thankful for those reviews there wasn't enough information and inspiration there, so my next stop was Google.

Why do I google patterns? One because I can see images of finished garments and reviews of them that aren't always on PatternReview. And in my googling I found reviews by Mrs. Mole and I thought thank God, real helpful information by a sewing pro. She made this topper for a client and provides some insight into fit that I used to make my own version.

So first a picture of the finished topper ~


One of the last outdoors photos for the season because it's chilly and the 
sun sets way too early. This picture was taken at 3pm.


The Supplies ~
Medium weight denim from Fabric Mart (the same used in the V1247 skirt)
4 - 1" gold buttons from the collection 
(honestly I've had these so long I don't even know where they came from!)

Pattern Alterations and Construction Details ~
I made no alterations to the pattern because when I double checked the finished measurements, I fit solidly into a size 22. But just to make sure, I tissue fit the topper and the only thing I thought was maybe I would need to sew the side seams a little deeper and this proved to be true.

Other than that my major change was to topstitch the seams in the same color thread. I went back and forth over that because my original thought was to topstitch in a gold thread but in the end decided it was too much. I want this to be able to be thrown over everything so it needs to be as neutral as possible. Also because I used a medium weight denim, I omitted the interfacing the pattern suggests you use. If it was a thinner, flimsier fabric, I would definitely have interfaced the facing pieces but my fabric was firm and didn't need it.

This is an easy sew like the pattern envelope says. I had two challenges with this sew - one, getting the sleeves inserted. I had to fiddle with them and I'm not sure it was the way I inserted them or if the fabric used was too bulky. There was a lot of steam, some careful clipping and a lot of clapper action to get them to lay flat and work. But they do work!  

My second challenge was the facings. Gawd, I just couldn't get those irregular shapes to go together well. I took them apart 3x before I finally got them in correctly. I also added a few slip stitches between the facing buttonhole and the jacket buttonhole so that they wouldn't slip or work against each other when using the jacket.

Finally a caution, I think that this pattern works for me because I'm fluffy. I think a slimmer person might be challenged by the extra fabric/ease in this pattern. Like Mrs. Mole said, you should definitely make a muslin to make sure that you get the best fit. However, for me it provides a stylish cover up for the extra fluff.

Okay a few more pictures ~


I added a gold button to the back and on each sleeve hem
because I liked how it looked.



Up next is a top from The Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files. When Heather first issued this pattern, I never saw pajamas. I always saw a cool top and I'm making my version from velvet.

...as always more later!



Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Tenants in the Fabric Collection

Now I know I said that I won't be adding much to the fabric shelves this year, and that I'd primarily be sewing from the collection, but a few new tenants have come to reside there. As my last couple of makes have shown and some future ones that will appear here soon, I AM sewing from the collection. However, most of my Christmas presents were gift cards which in my mind means free fabric, notions, sewing tools or books. So I bought some fabric and here it is... 

First I entered another free fabric giveaway ~ 

This time it was a Marcy Tilton giveaway for $100 of the fabric of your choice. Hey, I love quality fabric and Marcy has some amazing pieces of fabric. You should definitely stop by her site and spend some quality time drooling over the amazing pieces she has curated there. 

Here is what I picked for my winning piece...



It was chosen to go with Vogue 9174 - Marcy's new top for Vogue Patterns ~



I thought it was a little heavier weight than it actually is...but if I underline each piece with a silk batiste or a silk or rayon lining...hopefully it will work for the pattern. It will have a softer drape but that should make it perfect for spring/summer wearing.

Of course, after searching the site to find fabric, I found two additional ones that I just couldn't bear not to have in the collection. The first is called Tweed Posie and it's no longer on the site...



...it reminded me of the fabric I used to make this vest and skirt...which I thought I'd given away but after checking...it is still in the closet. 



The second piece is a black velvet denim which is still on the site. Here is the link for it.



I want to make a jeans type jacket from this Butterick pattern, originally sold in 2003, it's now out of print.  I've had in the pattern collection for forever and I'm finally going to make it because it fits my present lifestyle.




I want a simple topper to throw over outfits to wear in the office during the winter. In the spring it will be a great jacket for the warmer weather. This fabric/pattern combo fits into my Chicos Chic sewing philosophy.


* * * * *

The pieces from Emmaonesock were pieces I'd been drooling over for awhile.


Left to right: leather applique on mesh, black denim, cut out 
applique faux leather and a shirred faux leather

These were purchased with one of the Christmas gift cards and are heavy on the faux leather. Yeah I got a weakness for cool faux leather pieces and am slowly trying to buy them all up! *LOL*

1.5 yards of a leather applique on mesh, 3 yards of a black denim and 2 yards of the cut out applique faux leather (both sold out on the website), 2 yards of a shirred faux leather. Links are provided to the two fabrics that are still on the site but I don't know how long they will be there.

I'm sure that there won't be any new tenants added to the fabric collection any time soon because I've just bought my plane ticket to Seattle. Yes, I'm meeting up with Gaylen and spending a day at the Sewing Expo. So I've got to save funds for the Pendleton Wool and the Marcy Tilton booths! 


* * * * *

A Book Giveaway ~



Another one of the things I bought with my gift card was this book, "Couture Sewing - The Couture Skirt" by Claire B. Shaeffer. When I went to put it on the bookcase, lo and behold, I already had a copy. So I'm offering it up here. If you'd like to win this book, leave a message in the comments by noon EST on Saturday, January 16th

I will pick a name then and post the winner shortly thereafter. The giveaway is open to everyone and will not be mailed until after Monday, January 18th because it's a holiday here in the US.

...as always more later! 






Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Rachel Skirt - 2015

I bought denim during the Black Friday sales last year because I wanted a denim skirt and a denim button down dress. After I finished the tunic, I really didn't want to sew another top right away. The denim was out because it had been prewashed so I went that way.

I used Vogue 1247 - The Rachel Comey skirt (this pattern is now OOP) with the invisible pockets for my denim skirt. No one said I was going to be traditional about this! *LOL* I first made this pattern back in 2011.



The supply list ~
Medium Weight Denim purchased from Fabric Mart
9" blue invisible zipper
2 - 5/8" gold buttons


Pattern Alteration and Construction Details ~
I made some simple alterations to the skirt pattern, removing a 1/2 inch from the side of the back pieces. Those are the only changes I made. Otherwise the skirt is sewn just as the pattern instructs ~ except my insides are serge finished instead of adding the bias binding ~ though I did pull some from the collection to use to make binding. However, once my skirt was done, I liked the serge finish and decided to forego the binding.



The instructions are easy to follow - though I noticed some alterations in my pattern pieces from the Vogue 1247 pieces.  That's because I used my TNT straight skirt pattern to alter the original pieces since the pattern only goes up to a size 18.  My version has two darts in the back yokes, whereas the V1247 back yokes has a single dart.  Those two darts work well for my bodacious booty and well in this adaptation too.

My waistband is 2" wide by 48" long, which I cut using the selvedge of the denim and without using a pattern. I like a thinner waistband ~ just enough to hold the skirt to my body without digging into my skin and to provide an additional closure. A button/buttonhole combination is my closure of choice.



I love the length. It's perfect for tights and my booties and it works great with my sleeveless turtlenecks or a tee-shirt with a cardi over it. A little more on the dressy side for work but hey it's denim so I'm gonna wear it!

A few photos ~


This is another piece off my list of garments I'd like to have in my wardrobe. I know it's not the traditional jean skirt but since I'm developing a Chicos Chic wardrobe for work - it's perfect for me!  

The jean skirt was the second piece sewn during my Christmas Break. Since I ordered fabric with a Christmas gift card (black denim from EOS), I decided to use the remaining two yards to make a jean topper.  



I've added a sneak peek of the Vogue 8090 topper which is up next on the blog. I won't necessarily wear this skirt with the topper but it's another piece I've wanted to add to my wardrobe. 

However, will you please notice the boots!! Another byproduct of my weight loss is that my calves and ankles are no longer swollen, so I was totally amazed when these wide calf boots fit comfortably. I've only worn them to church, which is only a couple of hours and little walking is involved. I've yet to wear them for my 12 hour workdays...but it's coming people...it's coming!

...as always more later! 






Sunday, January 10, 2016

It's been ten years...

I started my blog on January 8, 2006 because I wanted to say what I wanted to say without sewing board restrictions.  At that time sewing boards were huge! The social media spot to go to meet other sewists. I wanted a home computer just to be able to keep up with my favorite sewing board, Stitchers Guild, on the weekends.

It seemed like the best things were posted on the weekends and since I accessed the board from my work computer (and they actually expected me to work) it seemed like it took at least 2-3 days to catch up on the weekend going ons. I did get my first home computer but I inherited it after my Dad died. He said I should write and told my Mom to give it to me.

So hardly anyone was blogging then. I was striking out on a path that I didn't realize would last a decade. Hey I didn't know if I would still be doing it the following year. But I got hooked on blogging...writing and sharing about sewing...sharing photos of garments I made...the discussions about sewing...meeting other sewists...and in the process I learned that I like to write and I'm a blogger. So here I am 1,777 posts later.

I know that there are other forms of social media (loads of them now) where we can share our love of sewing but I love the written word alongside some pretty pictures. I will probably blog until blogger closes down or my fingers lose the ability to type.

In the beginning, I had no idea what I was doing. When I went to look at my very first post (OMG the horridness of it!) I had to clean it up before I would link it to this post. I didn't have a digital camera. I was using disposable throwaways at the time, never having been a photography buff, they always worked for me. I had no printer. Couldn't work a photo editing program if you paid me...my computer skills were based on the things I learned & needed for work. I really just wanted to talk about sewing.

So over the last decade I've learned a few things! *LOL*
  • I now know the best time to take a picture outside and that natural light is best.
  • My sister says I always know the best way to stand to get the skinniest picture. hahahahaha!
  • I think more about layouts and what story I want to tell with my pictures.
  • I know not to link to a website for fabric or patterns, especially if I don't want to have broken links in my posts years later. BTW, over the course of this year I will be going in and fixing all of the broken links in the older posts. 
  • I've learned not to discard a good picture if things can be cropped out. 
  • Most importantly I've learned to take loads and loads of pictures so that I can end up with 4-5 good ones for the blog and for Instagram.
Honestly, I love my little piece of the internet with the sewing friends and opportunities it's introduced me to.  This blog has enhanced and enriched my life. It was something to hold onto when times were hard in my professional life. It was a place of refuge amongst like-minded friends when tragedies occurred in my personal life - even if they weren't shared here - it was a place to escape to. I've learned to rise above, to respect, to cherish, to admire and to wanna be some of my fellow sewists. I've learned that a fat, middle-aged black woman could be cared for, loved and hated by thousands of other sewists I will probably never meet...and I've enjoyed almost all of it! *LOL*

So thank you to those who have been following along since the beginning! Thank you to those of you who have become friends!  Thank you to those who passed in or out of my life during this time...I'm glad that we had that time together. Thank you to those who hated on me, because it made me develop character. And thank you to those who've just started following along. I appreciate each and every one of you!

Here's to the future and whatever lies ahead!

...as always more later!


Saturday, January 09, 2016

Adding Piping to a Sleeve Hem

There were several Carolyn touches added to my designer knock-off tunic, primarily piping.  As I was inserting the piping to the sleeve hem I posted a picture to Instagram. Then I had a thought that I should add a post on how I added the piping plus hem facing to the sleeve.  So here it is:

First thing I did was draw a hem facing by using the the pattern piece and some wax chalk ~


After cutting the hem facing out, serging the edges to finish them and stitching the side seam, I was left with this ~


The hem facing's other edge was then machine stitched flat to clean finish the edge for actual hand stitching the hem ~


The facing was pinned to the sleeve, matching the undersleeve seam ~


I set my sewing machine up with the extension table removed for freearm stitching with my zipper foot on the machine. I use my zipper foot even though there is a piping foot that can be purchased for my sewing machine. My zipper foot works well because I can get it close enough to the piping while it's encased in fabric. 


Stitch close to the piping on the facing edge. I grade the seam by the piping join to remove some of the excess bulk. Then I pin the facing in, prior to pressing it ~


Next I edgestitch close to the piping on the outside of the sleeve, using a 2.9 stitch length on my machine ~


Finally everything is pressed flat using a silk organza pressing cloth and the clapper ~


Here is the sleeve once it's inserted into the garment ~


I think this is a great technique to add to your garments. It will help take them to the next level. If you've followed along here, you will realize that I'm a piping fiend and use a lot of it in my garments. I just like the touch it adds to them or maybe I'm just channeling Cynthia Guffey!

If you're interested in how I add piping to garments, I wrote post about it back in 2008 and you can find the information here. BTW, my Sewing Techniques link has some good information in it, if you're looking for a technique I've used in previous garments or just want to learn a new sewing skill.

Next up is a denim skirt from Vogue 1247. I loved my original skirt and can't believe I was able to reproduce it in a fabric for my new lifestyle. BTW, some time in 2016 I'm gonna stop using that phrase ~ I promise! *LOL*

...as always more later!



Thursday, January 07, 2016

A New Tunic...

Seriously I never thought that I would be knocking off anything designer for my new casual style but I came across this Valentino top on FarFetch and fell in love.

...and it hit me that I could make that to wear to work now. Just add some sleeves (cause it is a little chilly outside) and wear it over a pair of slim pants or even leggings. This would work!

I already knew that I would use my TNT dress pattern shortened to tunic length for this top. So the next stop was the fabric collection where I found the perfect Armani red wool blend for this top!  I pulled some red rayon bemberg for lining, a red invisible zipper, and I was all set.  Seriously, nothing was bought to make this top.  It all came from the collection! Yes!!!

The Supplies ~
Red wool blend is Giorgio Armani fabric that I bought from Fabric Mart years ago. Yes, more sewing from the collection!
22" red invisible zipper
Red rayon bemberg lining
Red rayon seam binding
Red rayon piping


Pattern Alterations ~
Since I want to make more tunics, I made permanent pattern pieces from my TNT dress pattern.


I even altered the sleeve because it's just a little too wide in the bicep area (woohoo! can't believe I typed that!) The alterations were more about shortening the pattern than anything else.



A Little Construction Information ~
Again I've made this top/dress/tunic so many times that sewing the tunic was easy. However I made a few design changes to my tunic that are not a part of the Valentino top. 
  • I added long sleeves
  • Used a center front seam for the tunic front to add shaping
  • Added red piping to the neckline 
  • Added red piping to the sleeve hems
  • Used a hem facing on the sleeve hems to cover the piping since the sleeves are unlined.

Once the lining was added, I machine stitched the hem. The tunic was hemmed using hem tape and hand hemming it.

To make the bow I used a rectangle that was 4" wide and 60" long. I cut it from the fashion fabric and the lining fabric. I came up with those measurements after measuring the width of my shoulder seam since the bow has to fit on the shoulder and then hang down the back.

Just when I thought it was okay, I realized that I didn't really like the bow. It won't fit under a cardi or topper and it's a little impractical for this job. So I ended up not putting it on the tunic.

A Few More Pics ~
I photographed the tunic with leggings and with the black ponte skirt I made recently.

Tunic with Leggings



Tunic with black ponte skirt


Conclusion ~
Originally I started working on this to wear to my Company's Holiday Party. Instead I caught an awful cold and didn't sew at all before Christmas. This was the first piece I worked on during my Christmas Break. So even though I'm blogging about it in 2016, it was one of my last garments made in 2015.

I like that the Valentino top inspired me to make this tunic.  However, with all designer inspired pieces, you have to sew what works with your lifestyle. This as is will work well now and fit into my Chicos Chic wardrobe plan!

...as always more later!

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