Saturday, February 15, 2020

A Week in Review - Week Four

I didn't do a week in review last week so I have a lot to share! Settle in because there are quite a few pictures too...

Sew In at UrbanSewciety ~
I was really excited to attend the Sew In at UrbanSewciety last weekend and I was NOT disappointed. UrbanSewciety hosted a two day sew-in. Saturday from 9am to 7pm with breakfast, lunch and dinner served and Sunday from 9am to 5pm with breakfast and lunch served.  We only needed to bring the projects we wanted to work on and our enthusiasm. You could sign up for the entire weekend or for either Saturday or Sunday.  My friend Melanie and I signed up for the entire weekend.  I met so many local sewists and quilters and had a wonderful time sewing at their amazing studio.

I took two pre-cut projects to work on - Simplicity 8687 and a sleeveless shirt pattern. I spent my entire weekend working on S8687 because I added so many design elements to it.

A Few Photos from the weekend:

My sewing companion for the weekend. UrbanSewciety uses these sewing machines because they work for all of the classes they teach as well as the classes and summer camps for kids. By the end of the weekend she'd become my best friend!

One of the best things about the sewing studio is that it was well stocked with pressing, cutting and marking tools. Each table had a set of prewound bobbins in a multitude of colors that you could use and if a specific foot wasn't in your machine it was in a nearby machine.

The studio is well lit and each sewing table has enough space to work at. It is the perfect set up and if you forgot anything or need something, there's always the store in the front where you can purchase things.

Working on Simplicity 8687

My table at the end of the first evening

The goodie bag was loaded with treats!

Old & New Sewing Friends ~

Me and Melanie - met at Sew Camp been hanging ever since!

Betty & Margaret
Margaret drove all the way from Massachusetts to participate!
It was so cool to meet you both!!!

One of the owners of SewCiety with a project for the kid's sewing classes

...and a fabric purchase...well I also won a gift certificate so that helped facilitate the buy!

4 yards of a rayon knit and 4 yards of a rayon from Ruby Star Society

BTW, did you know that the designers from Cotton & Steel moved to the Ruby Star Society team? Meg told me when I asked why she was carrying that line instead of Cotton & Steel.

I will definitely do this again and will probably attend one of their Friday night sew-ins as well. It's a wonderful local resource that I hope all NJ sewists will visit - for the classes and the fabric.

Updating my Dressform ~ 
I've been meaning to pad my dressform out since I got it in December 2018. But me being who I am, the sewing takes precedence over everything...even though this is technically sewing, right!  

The Roxy Display Company made my dressform. I was on their Amazon site looking for a stand to add to my older dressform when I stumbled upon this "dressform fitting system."  I wanted a Fabulous Fit Padding Kit but every time I was ready to buy it, the extra large padding set was sold out. So I went with this one.

It was easy to pad my dressform especially since my shoulders and bustline are exactly the same. I just needed help from the underbust down.  So I pinned the pads on and added a layer of batting to the front and back enclosing the pads.

Then I forced the cover down the dressform.  At first I was kinda upset that it wasn't smooth...but in reality I'm not smooth either so I went with it. I will use it this way for awhile and see how I like it. To me it was an excellent purchase for $39.95 and helped change my dressform to look more like me.

Seeing Dapper Dan at FIT ~
Not only does FIT have the amazing museum with it's revolving displays but they also have monthly talks hosted by Valerie Steele.  If you want to know what the talks are get on FIT's email list. I've never been to one of the talks, signed up for one years ago but had a family emergency and was unable to attend.

This time Wanett asked if I wanted to go and it was an automatic yes! Dapper Dan's new book was on my to buy list so I really wanted to hear him speak. He did not disappoint! Found out that Syreeta was attending too so the three of us teamed up to attend.

It was a great evening! Thank you both for going with me!

Simplicity 8687 ~

I spent all of last weekend working on the topper. It needs buttonholes, buttons, to be hemmed and it will be done. Will definitely finish it off this weekend. I'm also working on a party outfit for a family event next weekend since it's a 3 day weekend. We're celebrating President's Day here in the US.

Hope you made it all the way to the end. I know this was a long one but I did combine two weeks worth of sewing events in one. always more later!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

More Shirtmaking Info.

I've been sewing shirts consistently for three years now.  The one thing about making a garment over and over again is you refine your techniques. Your collar edges get sharper, the way you apply the overlap for the cuff goes on quicker & easier and you know how it fits.

Tools I use when making buttonholes and sewing buttons on

My shirt journey has become about the fabric choices, the buttons and any embellishments. Y'know the fun stuff! Lately I've changed up the way I sew buttons on my shirts. After doing it a certain way for awhile, listening to other sewists and just repeating the process, I knew I needed to change it up.

I've never been a precise marker. I have to work at that because so much of what I do is instinctive or learned response. However, I'm changing up the way I'm sewing buttons onto my shirts.

First I do machine sew buttons on when they're flat 2 or 4 hole buttons. As evidenced by this video I posted to Instagram.

o I always use a hat pin to create a shank so the machine sews the thread over it.

o I use to mark the opened buttonholes with a pin after slicing them open with my buttonhole cutter. Lately, I've been using my Frixon pen and marking the center of the buttonhole.

o It makes sewing the button on so much easier because I just place the button over the marking. I'm also more accurate with button placement now.

o My machine finishes sewing the buttons on with the needle in the up position. This allows me to cut a really long thread tail

o Then I use a regular needle, thread the tail through and pull it to the backside of the shirt

o The thread tails are tied off in the back 

o A drop of fray check is applied to the knot on the back to secure the button threads.

After talking with another sewist, I'm also going to buy some silimide to sew on shank buttons. I presently double thread a needle with coordinating thread which means that I'm using four threads. I then run it through some thread heaven and make 3-4 passes through the shank.  My sewing friend said that the silimide will allow me to make just three passes and it's just as strong. Anything that speeds up the button sewing process is something I want to pursue.

One additional thing to note - I use 11 buttons at least on my shirts. One for each cuff, one on the collar stand, nine down the front. I know I use more buttons than most pattern companies suggest but I like my shirts buttoned all the way down the front. Pattern companies leave a longer/larger amount of space on the front of the shirt. That front flaps open on me and I just don't like it which is why I change it.

Just wanted to update how I'm sewing buttons onto my shirts now. always more later!

Friday, February 07, 2020

Cashmerette Fuller Cardigan

I was really excited when Jenny asked for testers for the Fuller Cardigan. It had two things I really wanted in a cardigan - a button front and raglan sleeve. Also with Cashmerette patterns I have to make minimal fit changes and I can just sew...which is the part I like best.

As I said, I made the tester version and the subsequent pattern has a few changes made to it. So I made one using the new pattern (which I got as soon as it became available) because I wanted to see the changes especially since I basically liked my tester version. 

I sewed this right out of the envelope using my normal size 24, C/D cup. The same size I made in the tester version. I tried it on to figure out button placement and it didn't close across the front! Dayum, dayum, dayum!!! I checked my pattern pieces. They were the same as the tester front. Then and only then did I check my ponte's stretch - ummmmm not enough. Dayum, dayum, dayum.

My challenge was I already had an outfit in mind.  The Fuller Cardigan plus a sleeveless Pembroke cowl neck tunic (info on this in a future post) and I didn't want to donate this cardigan.  So see my solution below...

Yes a chain finish! I have several of these collected from eBay when Glee was huge and Emma Pillsbury, the teacher who wore the cardigans with the chains, was big. This is why you shouldn't Marie Kondo everything!

I also added an inch to the hemline and can honestly say I forgot to lengthen the front facing too. So I didn't get to use the amazing mitered corner finishing in the pattern instructions. But since I will be making another one, you can bet I will rectify my bad cutting to get that corner finish.

For the sleeves, I used the fuller bicep sleeve pattern. Thanks for that Jenny! Because it means I don't have to worry about having enough space in my biceps or make alterations to the pattern. My design touch was to two tone the sleeves - black ponte sleeves (with enough stretch btw) and the cuff is cut from the base fabric.

Supply List ~
2 yards printed ponte from Fabric Mart - collection fabric
1 yard of black ponte from Fabric Mart - collection fabric
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

A Few Pictures ~

Fuller Cardigan worn with a Pembroke Sleeveless Tunic

For reference I'm adding a picture of the tester version. I took these at work and posted them to Instagram yesterday.  

To me the hip band was a little off-putting on the tester version so I'm glad it was omitted from the final version, even though it doesn't look bad on this cardi.  I also added a button onto the bottom band of my tester version. Honestly I may or may not use that band in a future version of this cardigan because I see more Fullers in my future!

I hope if you're a plus size sewist looking for a great basic cardigan, you will purchase a copy of The Fuller Cardigan...cause really can you have too many cardigans?! always more later!

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The $70 Shirt aka The Purple Reign Shirt

This shirt was another journey and a change from my original version due to fabric and cutting challenges. 

I originally bought 3 yards of an ombre purple polka dot quilting cotton back in December from Gotham Quilts.  Then I prewashed and pressed it and noticed this...

...a nice faded line through the center of the fabric which made me toss my original shirt vision out the window. I did some creative cutting and thought that maybe the shirt would work with the ombre going from side to side. Ummmm no...

This cut was just bad. Primarily because the dark to light didn't merge well and looked silly. This sent me back to the store for an additional two yards of fabric which I should have done in the first place instead of the weird cut out. I had visions of how this dress turned out bouncing around in my head. I didn't want to experience that again! In all honesty, I learned so much from making that dress, as well as, from the derision expressed on other internet sites.

That's how I came up with the title of this post.  See I've become spoiled. Most of the quilting cottons I've used in shirtmaking have been purchased from Zooks in Lancaster, PA.  The Amish have some amazing quilt stores filled with bright & vibrant fabrics but with Amish prices. The most I've spent on a quilting cotton was $9.99 per yard. I bought three yards and then another two yards from Gotham Quilts with NYC prices and tax because quilt fabric is taxed in NYC, thus a $70 shirt.

Supplies ~
5 yards quilting cotton from Gotham Quilts in NYC
11 1/2" gold dome buttons from Pacific Trimmings
Gold piping from Joyce Trimmings
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller

Construction ~
After I recut the shirt there were no additional construction changes.  There were however some design changes that added to the construction time of the shirt.

o  The shirt has been gathered into the cuff instead of using the button/buttonhole closure.  

o  Gold piping was added to the bottom of the cuff and to the collar.

o  To make the piping work best at the collar I rounded the ends slightly - so no sharp collar points on this version.

o  To get the full gathered back I had to cut the piece in half and seam it.  It uses the ombre to full effect and is a little smaller than my normal gathered back.

A Few Pictures ~

This is the fourth shirt in the series. I'm a little over half way done with the series of shirts and the cut pile. So I'm taking a break from shirtmaking here. I started a new project and that's what I'm working on now. There are a couple of cardigans that are finished plus the project referenced above coming to the blog sooner rather than later. always more later!

Saturday, February 01, 2020

A Couple of Shirts...

There is nothing new about these two shirts. I'm posting them more for me. The one thing I learned while doing the decade recap is it was great to have photos of all the things I'd made...especially since many of them no longer live in my wardrobe.

So while I did work on a new cardigan during the Holiday Break, you know I also cut out a pile of shirts. Since I use my TNT shirt patterns over and over again, the only thing that differentiates each shirt is the fabric used, buttons and any embellishments. The first shirt is made from an overprinted plaid fabric that I took the time to match the plaids while cutting it out. Though since the fabric is overprinted it really doesn't matter!

This shirt was made to go with the Simplicity Cardigan that I'm still trying to determine how to add closures to! Since there are two shirts in this blog post, I've broken it out by each shirt.


Materials ~
4 yds of 45" cotton & silk blend fabric purchased from Fabric Mart's brick & mortar store during March Sew Camp last year
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller
11 1/2" frosted floral buttons from the button stash

As I stated above there are no new construction techniques for this shirt. The difference is in the fabric and the way I cut it out.

Construction Info. ~
1. Front band was cut on the bias but when I added it to the shirt, I realized it didn't add anything to the shirt front. So I turned it to the back on the buttonhole side and outwards on the button side.

2. Back yoke piece was cut on the bias as was the collar, collar stand and cuffs.

3. I went with a white button to make the print pop on the shirt. Even though I did take the time to match the plaid.

4. I don't always burrito roll my shirt but for some reason I wanted to for this one. The burrito roll is still (years later) not intuitive to me. Thank goodness for this video from Sew Camp that I can refer to time and again. Also thanks to Kisha and Andrea for the help!

As an aside it's one of the things I love about Sew Camp - the sharing of techniques and learning from my fellow sewists.

A Few Pictures ~

Worn with a RTW sweatshirt hoodie


Materials ~
4 yards of an embroidered cotton purchased from Marcy Tilton last year
Interfacing from Steinlauf & Stoeller
11 1/2" Mother of Pearl Buttons from the button collection

Construction ~
When I purchased this fabric I knew I wanted to cut the collar, collar stand, front button placket and cuffs from the unembroidered portion of the fabric.  The pictures on Marcy's site were so good, I could see that part before I purchased the fabric.

Other than creative cutting there are no additional construction techniques for this shirt.

A Few Pictures ~

Worn with a RTW suede jacket that's been in my closet for ages...

This was shirt two and three of the shirts I've recently completed. Both of these are made using the princess seam back version of my TNT shirt pattern. Both are like basics in my wardrobe even though they have a print on them. Both will go into the rotation right away especially since this seems like it will be a mild winter here in the tri-state area. always more later!

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Week in Review - Week Three

Yes, I finally put the buttons and buttonholes on the shirts and had some pictures taken.  The first shirt has already come to the blog.  The others will follow shortly.

I don't know why it takes me so long to make the buttonholes because it's not like I hand sew them. Or that my sewing machine doesn't make excellent buttonholes...I was just being lazy about it. But it's done now so next...

I also worked some more on Simplicity 8687 ~

...continuing on with my winter sewing. I haven't made a topper yet this winter and I wanted something a little unstructured and more top like. So far this is fitting the bill.


I ordered Fabric last week and it arrived over the weekend. Five yards of this ltwt. polyester bubble crepe print. It was the deal of the day for $1.99 a yard from Fabric Mart. Even with shipping added for one piece, it made it $4 per yard. Still a great value. I want to use this fabric for a summer maxi dress. I may end up sewing it sooner rather than later. I want to wear it when the weather starts to turn warm instead of sewing it once the warm weather arrives.

Fabric In/Out Totals ~
I was restrained with fabric buying this month. Only purchasing this five yards plus 2 additional ones to finish the Purple Reign Shirt. Since all of the shirts I made were from the cut pile I assembled in December, my fabric out number is small.  

Just 3.5 yards - one yard for the Purple Reign Shirt and 2.5 yards for my next project. So 3.5 yards more in than out. I hope to do better next month.

I will still be using this fabric designation for tagging makes:
#deepstash - been in the collection more than 8 years
new - been in the stash less than 6 months 
collection - 1 to 7 years in the collection

Last year this time I bought 39 yards of fabric so I'd say I'm winning by only buying 7 yards this month with two of those yards needed to complete a garment.

I did complete 4 garments this month so at least there is that!


In Sewing Community News this week, did you hear about the dust up with Tessuti Fabrics and the plus size sewing community?  Tessuti offered a pretty new skirt pattern that didn't have extended sizing. The plus size sewing community especially in Australia was upset because Tessuti has been promising to extend their sizing and it wasn't reflected in this pattern.

Here is what Tessuti had to say about their decision.

So what do I think?  I'd actually stopped purchasing fabric (yes I try to buy from everyone who sells fabric) when they extended some of their patterns but only had pdfs and a few hard copies to purchase. The shipping was a little expensive for a single pattern, so I walked away. There are other fabric stores in the US and pattern companies willing to make designs in my size that I don't need to chase an international company.

However, if this is the fabric store where you shop locally, I can see how you, as a plus size sewist is challenged by the situation. I understand why telling you that you should shop elsewhere for your pattern needs but oh don't stop buying our fabric is both annoying and an issue. I also understand why you don't want to give them any more of your money. Obviously, they don't believe they need your money to survive. Even more so, I understand how this hurts you.

What I really liked about the discussion, because I read ALL of the comments on both of Tessuti's and Sewverymuch's posts, was the support of sewists who could wear the patterns yet were standing with their plus size sewists. Here's the thing, I strongly believe that if a retailer doesn't cater to you, you should not spend your hard earned dollars there. If they believe they can survive and thrive without you buying fabric and/or patterns from them, then refuse to do so.

I'm a huge Lizzo fan and loved the interview she gave with Gayle King for her Grammy Special. When Gayle asked her why she wasn't on Twitter anymore Lizzo said that she doesn't go places where she's not wanted.  That's how I feel about pattern makers who don't want to extend their sizes. It is their right to run their business as they see fit, just like it's mine not to purchase their products or promote them.

So thoughts...cause y'all know I love a good discussion about what's going on in the sewing community.

Another shirt will be up next... always more later!


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