Sunday, December 30, 2007

And so it begins...

I haven't sewn in three weeks, so my cutting table was buried under fabric, patterns and miscelleanous life stuff!

And this is how it looks now....cleaned and waiting for me to get started! I have ideas...boy do I have ideas...I mean loads of ideas! *LOL* I just have to figure out which one I should start with...'cause all of them want to come out and play!

However, the items that beat their way to the forefront of my mind...generally get mentally sewn up sometime during my busy day...either on the bus ride to work or from work...while I'm in a particularly boring meeting (who knew that Executive Assts would attend so many meetings!) or sometimes even while I'm sleeping! I've learned to keep a pad by the bed so that when I wake up and realize that I have solved a problem in my sleep, I can immediately write down the solution!

I love mental sewing...when I walk through the construction process, work out fit challenges or design changes and mentally catalogue what fabric and notions I have on hand and which things need to be purchased. All of my really great ideas are mentally sewn and carefully walked through long before I touch the fabric.

And then I make a roadmap for the garment...pictured above is how I plot out a garment. This particular photo was done in my sewing notebook but I also have a sketch book that I use for this purpose. Swatches, a really poor drawing, lots of notes on construction and sometimes even a list of things to be purchased are included in the roadmap. I refer to this constantly when making the garment...that way I don't forget any of the ideas or thoughts I had when I mentally sewed the garment.

So today on the next to last day of 2007, I will begin working on my first project for 2008! Stay tuned...there is more to come!

As 2007 draws to a close...

As 2007 draws to a close, I want to say thank you to all of you who venture by daily, weekly or even monthly and read my ramblings! When I am surfing the internet and read blogs by others who reference a post of mine or say that they are inspired by something I did, pointing other readers to my blog I am truly humbled. The internet is such a huge place and to know that it makes someone's day on the other side of the world to read one of my posts is amazing!

Mostly though I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to post a thought to a question I've compliment me on a garment that I've sewn...or just to say "me too!" When I read over some of the posts from this year and the wonderful and thoughtful comments that YOU have taken the time to just makes my heart sing!

Finally, thank you to all of you who inspire me! The best thing about the internet is that I no longer sew in a vaccuum! I have sewing friends that I can visit daily for encouragement, inspiration, companionship and encouragement to add more to my fabric collection - Shannon! To all of those I had the chance to meet with this year, thank you for spending time with me! I hope I get to meet even more of you in 2008!

I pray that 2008 brings you all the things that you hope for creativewise in your sewing! I also believe that we will all grow in our talent and produce wonderful, amazing and high quality garments!

Now back to sewing....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

2007 - A Recap

2007 has been a very good sewing year for me. I have added to and shared from my fabric collection...I have made some new sewing friendships...and I have challenged myself to sew more "quality" garments.

At the beginning of the year, I set a goal to make 100 garments in 2007. I abandoned that goal quite early in the year instead opting for quality sewing...making garments that had the best sewing techniques in them that I could do!

After reviewing the year, I believe that I did accomplish some amazing sewing feats...and if I had to use two phrases to describe my sewing in 2007, the phrases would be "TNT Patterns" and "Adaptability."

TNT Patterns - (tried and true)
I have worked the heck out of my TNT patterns this year. No pattern classification was exempt ~ from tops to dresses to pants and skirts, they all made an appearance in 2007. Some of the patterns were used to expand my wardrobe and some were adapted to become something new.

I believe that I have grown in my ability to change one of my TNT Patterns, turning it into something totally different from the original. This year has seen me move from one plateau to another when adapting a look from a picture into an actual garment. I want to use this "talent" even more in 2008, though it figured prominently in my top five garments for 2007!

Without further ado, here is the listing of my top five garments in 2007:

from the 2007 Timmel SWAP
This wardrobe was completed totally from scratch. I planned, sewed and entered an eleven piece collection in the Timmel SWAP. Even though my collection did not win any of the prizes, it did accomplish its main purpose and that was to elevate the level of my work wardrobe. This collection was finished early in April and there weren't too many days left to wear it since it was a fall/winter wardrobe. However, it has played a prominent part in this Fall's wardrobe making me appropriately dressed in all of my work situations.

(completed items 20 & 21)
I made this outfit during my Spring Sewing Vacay. It makes my 2007 best of list because it is a totally trendy outfit that was made in time to actually wear during the trend! *LOL* I also used a "classical" slant when constructing it so that it would work well beyond the trendy curve. The other thing that I love about this outfit is the well thought out embellishments, the fit of the dress and jacket and how easy the outfit wears!

(completed item 25)
I know that a few other sewists have reached that "I really know that I can sew" plateau this year! They constructed a garment that just stretched their talent and abilities to the limit...that was the Chanel dress for me! Even now I am astonished that I was able to take a couple of pictures from People Magazine and turn what I saw into a wearable, well-fitted garment! That three day exercise reinforced and solidified my talent to me! Now five months later, I can't wait for spring to come so that I can wear the dress again!

(completed items 34 & 35)
Sometimes I think I invested as much time in this suit as I did in my SWAP collection! It was a concept that I lived with for several months before it came to fruition. I used techniques that I had never tried before ~ quilting the lining ala Chanel ~ some interesting bias and grain treatments for the skirt ~ and once more adapting a picture into a finished garment. The other thrilling aspect of this garment that wasn't thought of at all during the planning phrase, was how much it inspired other sewists! This suit cemented my workday transformation and I'm so thrilled with it and everything I learned during the construction process!

(completed items 40 & 42)
There are two things that I love about this is that it uses the exact same jacket pattern as the one used in the Jackie O Retro suit. However, each jacket is totally different from the other! The second thing that I love is the subtle use of trim in this jacket. I am a total embellishment girl. I love adding trim to things and the use of the large gold braid and the buttons on this jacket totally makes the suit for me. Add to it my TNT 4-gore skirt and again I am not dialing up the same ole, same ole corporate black suit...yet, I am just as polished and professional looking as my peers. This suit is part of a wardrobe which needs a few more pieces to be completed but it is probably the last "quality" piece that I will work on in 2007!

Now of the 48 garments that I have made this year, these are not the only stand-out pieces. However, I think these pieces symbolize the direction that my sewing is moving in and how much I've grown. Upon reviewing the sewn garments for this year, it is causing me to set different sewing goals for 2008...but overall, I am very pleased with my 2007 output...and believe that I accomplished my primary goal ~ to produce quality sewn garments this year!

So how about you? What did you learn sewingwise in 2007? What technique that you learned or garment that you constructed in 2007 are you most proud of? Most importantly though, did you enjoy your sewing journeys this year?

Because I certainly did!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The History of a Pattern

Cennetta, The Mahogany Stylist, has been periodically eliminating excess patterns from her pattern stash. She has shown quite a few vintage patterns in her giveaway. My interest in vintage patterns has grown since Summerset began featuring instruction sheets from a few of her Ebay finds. Those instruction sheets have intrigued me because of the techniques and details available in the directions.

So I requested two of the patterns offered by Cennetta. The first one, Vogue 7940, arrived in Monday's mail. As expected, the instruction sheet was chockful of directions ~ even complete step by step instructions on how to make bound buttonholes. That double-sided sheet of paper was a virtual instruction manual, so unlike the instruction sheets that are in today's patterns.

Due to the Christmas Eve festivities at my apartment, I only got around to pulling the instruction sheet out later that night. It was my reading material as I drifted off to sleep. Yesterday morning as I was getting out of bed, I noticed a brown slip of paper on the floor near the pattern file.

When I picked it up I found this ~ it's the actual receipt for the pattern...which was purchased at Marshall Field & Co. on April 4, 1953. The receipt details the floor, the department, the register number and of course the cost of the pattern including tax - a grand 61 cents!

If the pattern was interesting before, it now became a gem! But even more than that it got me to wondering about its journey from Marshall Field's in Chicago to Somerset, New Jersey. See this pattern was purchased in Chicago, six years before I was even born. My mom was only 12! The pattern was cut out and it appears to have been I wonder what the owner made from it!

Now 54 years later it is in NJ in my hot little hands and I am curious about its sojourn from a sewist in another generation and time to a sewist in the 21st Century. I now have to make a garment from this pattern...somehow it only seems fitting to close the sewing circle!

Monday, December 24, 2007

"I Wish You A Merry Christmas..."

I wanted to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!

May the light of Christmas abide in each of your homes...

May the joy of the season brightened your paths this week...

and may you get everything that your heart desires!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Fabric Euphoria

Ah come on don't smile, or turn your nose up, or even think here she goes again...'cause y'all know I'm a fabric girl! I have shared my obsession with the creative and intoxicating powers of fabric with you for almost two years now. I have shared my wonderful fabric closet with you and even SOME, yes only some, of the fabrics I have purchased.

However, today I wanted to talk about that moment of anticipation that you get when you order a new fabric from the internet, or the split second feeling of anticipation you feel when you step over the threshold of a fabric store, or even the deep breathe that you take when you receive a package from a friend and you know that it contains fabric.

Now you know what I'm talking about...its that split second when your heart beats just a little bit faster and your breathe comes a little quicker, and all your senses are standing on alert...its Fabric Euphoria! Its hopes and dreams, anticipation and possibilities...its when all your creative senses are on high alert and you KNOW something wonderful is about to happen.

Fabric Euphoria definitely occurs when you are alone but man on man does it seem to descend as a magical cloud filled with fairy dust when you are with someone else, be it friend or mentor, or with a group of like minded individuals! Everyone in one room, on one accord, looking for the perfect piece or pieces of fabric...yeah, Fabric Euphoria is definitely around!

So Fabric Euphoria is what I felt when I walked into my living room the other night and saw the two boxes of fabric waiting...several thoughts quickly flitted through my mind...relief that it was here...anticipation ~ because who knew what they actually looked ~ fabric was here...

So for Julie ~ here is what came:

3 yards of blue/white argyle print flannel
3 yards of blue/white bandana print flannel
2 yards of sports equipment print flannel
4 yards red Italian wool/angora knit
2 yards blue Italian wool/angora knit

From Fabric Mart
3 yards black wool crepe blend

6 yards black mediumweight wool crepe
(please refer to The Quest post!)
5 yards Anna Sui print silk charmeuse for lining
4 yards Anna Sui print silk charmeuse for lining
(boy have I dipped into that well enough times!)

After a very early morning in the mall with my mom and sister (ummmm we left home at 6:30 am), I really have an urge to sew and the unfinished Simplicity 3631 black wool crepe dress is calling my name...maybe I will give in and get reacquainted with my sewing machine especially since my Christmas shopping is finally DONE! Hope yours is too!

And sometime during this festive season, I hope a little cloud of magical fairy dust descends upon you and you experience Fabric Euphoria, too!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tory Burch and the Color Blue

Tory Birch is one of my favorite designers, her fall line inspired me to make this dress. I love her use of color, her clean and simple shapes and the silhouettes of her garments. So when I saw her on the January issue of Town and Country Magazine, I had to snatch it up!

After reading the article, I like her even more. Here is one of her quotes,

"...But for me, luxury is not something you can buy. It's about having personal style and living your life based on your individual aesthetic. It is not about spending money but about having taste and being creative. Luxury is knowing your taste, developing it over time and understaning how to apply it to every aspect of your life."

She has a "Book of Inspiration" that contains tear sheets from magazines, pictures of paintings, catalogue pages and old doesn't that just sound like you and me! She makes wearable clothes - tunics, dresses in bright colors and created a product that women wanted but were unable to find!

If you can get your hands on a copy of the magazine, please's a wonderful article! And if you want to see what she actually designs - visit her website!

The Color Blue

So what's up with the Color Blue part of the title...this morning I was getting my daily dose of intelligent news from The New York Times online and I saw this article, "Pantone's Color of the Year Is..."

Yeap, there is an entire article in the NY Times devoted to the fact that Pantone is promoting blue as the "Color of the Year for 2008" So I guess that means that we should be hitting up our fabric collections and all the bricks 'n mortar as well as internet fabric sources for fabrics in shades of blue...but wait...not just any shade of has to be blue iris, or No. 18-3943!

So there you have are now in the know...Blue is the color for 2008! Wanna know what it was for 2007? Chili Pepper Red!

Sooooo, I know I promised more about fabric but let's just say that there are two medium size boxes of fabric laying in my living room floor right now purchased from the whirlwind of 20% off discounts and coupons in my hand over the last couple of days! You know I have got to do my part to keep the fabric industry thriving! *LOL*

Update on my Winter Sewing Break

I have worked out the three pieces I want to work on - possibly four - and I need to pick up some ambience lining for one of the two jackets that I want to make. The projects are pretty involved but I am looking forward to working on them and adding some new suit pieces to my work wardrobe. Otherwise there is no sewing going on here...maybe after Christmas!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Have you seen?

First - have you seen Phyllis' amazing Holiday Party Dress over at The Sewing Divas? I love that she shared the total process of making the dress...explaining how and why she did what she did and even giving a few book references! This is one amazing dress from a very simple Vogue pattern!

Second - my girl Isabelle of Kitty Couture has finished her Simplicity 3631 jacket! Ooooolala! I love how she handled the sleeve width on over and see it! Its a wonderful interpretation of an awesome jacket.

Next - Christina at Assorted Notions has made the kewlest winter coat! I know that there have been several other versions of this coat made - Sigrid - and I know that Cindy has one up her sleeve - but I really like the fabric that Christina used. She has lots of pics up on her blog of the construction techniques she used, go by and see it!

And finally, this is the jumper that everyone is making! There are six reviews of this jumper on Patternreview even though I have personally spotted a few in blogland that haven't been reviewed - Barbara.

On the accessories scene there are two of note:

Ann's LaRue bag for her BFF! I hated this bag in the movie, "The Devil Wears Prada" and most of the versions that I've seen since. However, I can truly appreciate the ying and the yang of this version ~ pettably soft on one side and smooth as wine on the other! Just skip over that nasty Patriots obsession she has going on and check out her BFF's Christmas present! *LOL*

Vicki's aprons that she made for her co-workers...again aprons per say are not a favorite of mine but I can so enjoy the splendor of her ruffled aprons! So check them out! Besides isn't that the coolest thing to do, to make such wonderful gifts for the people you work with...

Last but certainly not least...Tany! If you have not managed to visit Tany's world, all I gotta say is what is wrong with you!? What rock have you been under?! *LOL* Cause I want to be Tany when I grow up! My goodness gracias me can this woman sew! And not only does she sew at a level I can only hope to attain but she is gracious and kind, supportive and loving, and very giving of herself and her sewing knowledge! So if you haven't visited her before ~ go and be enthralled and if you have go again anyway! *LOL*

Also, thank you to everyone who posted a comment on my last post, "What do you love about sewing?" There are some amazing answers there...many that just made my heart sing with understanding, acknowledgement and joy! If you've read the post but not the comments, get a cuppa, open the comments box up and enjoy!

I'm to bed to go back to work tomorrow to make that money! 'Cause I got fabric to buy! *LOL* More about that later...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

What do you love about sewing?

It's a cold and dreary day here in New Jersey. The wind is blowing and there is a snowy, sleety rain falling. It is the perfect day to sew but here I am under the covers, watching "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy on television and planning what I'm going to sew during my winter break.

I know that I've asked a version of this question before in a post called, "Why do you sew?" But I am refining the question today ~ "What do you love about sewing?"

So on this dreary day when I have absolutely no desire to sew, can you share a little inspiration with me and talk back to me? What entices you about sewing? What inspires you? Exactly what do you love about sewing?

Okay peoples, I'm laying in bed with my laptop at the ready waiting on your answers...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Signe Chanel

There is a discussion on Stitchers Guild about a PBS Program called Haute Couture. This discussion has been going on since the summer and I've patiently waited for my local PBS Station to air the program. It is a very interesting program about the women who can afford to purchase these exquisite couture outfits, their views on couture and their collections.

However, during the course of the conversation on Stitchers Guild, TerriK discussed a set of videos that are presently being shown on You Tube called "Signe Chanel". Now I don't have much free time and I waited until this morning to watch them. Terri said they are an amazing look at the inside of Karl Legerfeld's House of Chanel and she was sooooo right!

Karl allowed the cameras to go behind the scenes into the workrooms, with the publicity people, the braidmaker and the shoemaker. It is an awesome series of videos about how one of his couture collections come together. So first, thank you Terri for pointing out these videos! I only seem to visit You Tube when someone either sends me a link or points me there in a specific direction. But these videos and the last couple of hours that I've spent watching them was well worth the trip!

And for all of you who haven't yet seen the collection of videos here is a link:

YouTube Signe Chanel Videos

Also, if you want to see the Couture and RTW Chanel collections, please check out the photos at:

Chanel at

I hope you enjoy the videos as much as I did! Even if fashion isn't your thing, check out the videos just because they let you go inside the atelier of a major Parisian fashion house and see what happens!

Just from watching them, my mind is bursting with creativity and inspiration! And, I have to remember to slow down and enjoy the process because when you take your time amazing things happen!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Reading Material - Sewing Style

I am a huge proponent of supporting the sewing magazines that are published because whether we sewists are aware of it or not, we are considered a niche market...meaning that the general public doesn't go out looking to buy a sewing magazine. Our magazines are not bought in the numbers that general magazines like People, Time, Newsweek or even the fashion magazines are purchased. So anytime I can highlight and support a wonderful issue of a sewing publication I will...

First up:
Sew Stylish's Embellishment Issue - Winter 2007

Of course if you've been sewing awhile some of these techniques aren't new to you, but I am championing and will continue to champion this magazine because of the collection of information it provides to new sewists and those returning to sewing. I believe that it is very kewl to have one focal point to go to as a reference source. Besides the wonderful embellishment techniques featured in this issue there are two other things I want to point out:

1. In Amber Eden's, the editor of Threads, welcome message she outlines the upcoming issues of Sew Stylish for next year! So hip hip hooray, this wonderful magazine is going to quarterly issues and NOT disappearing! The issues for 2008 will be:

*Quick Stuff to Sew in February 2008
*Spring Fashion in April 2008
*Accessories in June 2008
*Fall Fashion in August 2008

2. In Amber's p.s., she states that all of the fabric in the issue came from Metro Textiles! This is a fantabolious shout out to a wonderful fabric resource and a very kewl gentleman!

The other "craft" magazine is called "Piecework." I became aware of this magazine because of a blog post that Liana wrote. There is also a conversation taking place on Stitchers Guild right now about the article. Claire Schaeffer writes about how to spot a fake Chanel which is especially pertinent to our sewing community since several sewists have just recently completed their versions of Chanel-type jackets. There are also two other articles in this magazine that caught my attention, one about repairing a damaged crochet tablecloth and the other about collecting vintage sewing tools!

Finally the book, "The Collection" has landed in my mailbox. I have wanted to read this book since reviews started showing up in sewing blogland. Now it's in my hot little hands! I will read it right after I finish up "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards which I am really enjoying and highly recommend. Once, I've read it I will review it here and work on getting it passed onto someone else.

Sooooo, if you are interested in Chanel jacket construction or if you want to learn and/or review embellishment techniques, I hope you will pick up one or both of these magazines! Good sales of a sewing publication is a good thing for the rest of us sewists!

Enjoy your sewing journeys!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I punted!

Or no I did not wear the black wool crepe version of Simplicity 3631 to the Holiday Party...

See it was like this...I was suppose to be sewin' this weekend...instead I read a book, took a nap, cleaned my room...and finally sat down to sew on Sunday evening. By this time I had already decided that I had plenty of garments that I could wear instead of the dress so this is where I left it...

BTW, it works really great with the Simplicity 3631 jacket I previously made and with the Jackie O retro black/white jacket. And I love the black pleather detailing...I also added the darts back into the skirt front as they are in the original pattern. I couldn't make the exact same dress as the tan one could I?

So what did I wear instead? Why my black Tamoutsu dress from my Timmel SWAP entry with the reversible dress underneath it.

I looked quite nice without the pressure of rushing a dress I will finish the black version up sometime soon because it's now time to make pjs for Christmas gifts!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Saturday Morning Ramblings...

These are just some of my Saturday morning ramblings as I clean my room and put away things from the week...

I don't know about you but Monday through Friday is all about my job...I leave home early and return late so that if I want to see a TV show, spend any time on the internet or even read a book, I don't have many hours left at the end of my day to do it. So what ends up suffering is putting away my clothing that I've worn that day. Usually by the end of the week every coat I've worn is tossed across the loveseat which is right by the steps to the front door...makes it real easy to find in the morning as I am speed racing out the door! And every outfit is placed across a chair in my bedroom...which means Saturday morning is usually spent re-hanging and putting everything away. It's usually during this time that I get ideas for things that need to be replaced or additional basics I want to add to my wardrobe.

This morning I realized that my winter break is fast approaching and I need to make a plan for what I want to sew. I am sure that some of you are wondering why I'm not taking "proper leave the house" vacations but as a single mom with two college age daughters and tuition to pay, I am "sacrificing" those type of vacations for my daughters' educations. I guess it is a sacrifice but since I'm gaining so much sewing time I just have nothing to complain about! *LOL*

With another 10 days of sewing coming up, I think I am going to concentrate on some pantsuits and finishing up the Coldwater Creek Wardrobe. I have two jacket ideas in of course is kinda involved...I want to try some of the quilting that Summerset is presently using in her Midnight Gardens outfit. I saw this great jacket on QVC by Bradley Bayou...his version was in a quilted leather but I think I want to try it with the chocolate wool crepe and a brown silk charmeuse and some type of layer sandwiched between them. This is just a working idea and may get scrapped because its not feasible but if I can work it out, it should make a fabulous jacket that will work well with the other pieces of the CC Wardrobe.

Coldwater Creek Inspiration Wardrobe ~
Shannon asked for a picture of the completed items in the wardrobe so far, so here it is:
Front left to right:
The jacket that started the wardrobe from Vogue OOP 2285 and the matching 4 gore TNT lined skirt, the brown sueded silk SW Mission Tank Top, the lined tank top with the lace trim from Simplicity 3631, the longer twinset from Burda OOP 8869, the Simplicity 3631 dress in a tan tropical wool, another SW Mission Tank in a brown/beige rayon knit with brown ruffled trim and the chocolate wool crepe lined pants from my TNT pattern.

I have three more pieces to sew to complete the wardrobe ~ the lined straight skirt from the tan tropical wool, the chocolate wool crepe jacket (mentioned above) and the brown sueded shirt jacket from Burda OOP 3265. Since I have no deadline for these pieces I am constructing them as the mood strikes me. They all work together and can be worn now and as each piece is completed it just extends the other pieces wearability.

Christmas Sewing ~
Yes, I do a very little amount of Christmas sewing. This year it will only be flannel pj bottoms...but since I am known for them in my family...I will be mass producing pj bottoms next weekend. I am even adding a few toddler size pairs for a co-worker! For flannel fabric purchases via the internet, I think has the best selections. Just type "flannel" into the search box and pages and pages of amazing colors, textures and patterns show up! After going through my flannel collection (yes, I have one of those too!) I've found that I need to add a few more pieces to it to round out my Christmas present an order will go into today.

The Test from Tuesday's post ~
Thanks Ann for locating the author of the test, "Also under the documents properties the author is Judy Hatch from East High School."
Now for my results...on some levels this test was very basic and I think a great one for beginners to take. On another level it was a great refresher 'cause I know that a lot of these things I don't "think" about when I sew or use them, I just do them!

Nancy from Encue Creations pointed out that there is no answer key and she is correct...however, I thought that if anyone had a question about one of them that maybe we as a sewing community could answer it. And to that end, there were three that made me go "huh?!"

Question #35
Stitching on the cut edge of fabric, used to prevent fraying is:
a. Topstitching
b. Grading/layering
c. Edgestitching
d. Understitching

I didn't think any of these answers were correct. What did you think?

Question #47
All of the following statements regarding seams are true EXCEPT:
a. Stitching with the grain prevents the fabric from stretching.
b. The standard seam allowance is 5/8" but on some patterns it's only 1/4"
c. Watch the needle plate markings, not the needle when sewing.
d. Backstitching is usually done only at the top of the seams.

I thought it was D, but thoughts anyone?

Question #49
When replacing the sewing machine needle, it is important that the:
a. Groove side of the needle faces the thread.
b. Groove side of the needle faces away from the thread.
c. Needle is inserted to the top of the socket
d. A and C

Again, I thought this information varied by the type of sewing machine you used but if there is a standard answer, I sure would like to know!

Those were the brain twisters for me. Did anyone else have one they didn't know the answer to or wanted to discuss?

Shout out of the week ~
Goes to my girl, Cidell of Miss Celie's Pants, for making the most kick-*ss evening dress! For someone who has never made one before, she did an amazing job. Go over and check out, "The Queen of the Night!"

Today I am working on my black wool crepe version of the Simplicity 3631 dress for my job's Christmas Event. Hopefully pics tomorrow since I've already made this one! And if I get real adventurous - read that to mean get off the computer relatively soon - hopefully another dress for a Christmas party I have Friday evening.

Enjoy your sewing journeys!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Quest

As a working woman, I have a pretty extensive wardrobe. I am sure that it is smaller than some and larger than others. My excuse is that I don't like wearing the same thing often. The truth is probably hovering somewhere around the fact that I am a fabricaholic and a clothes hog! *LOL*

At the beginning of every fall/winter season the quest for me begins..."What is my quest, you ask?" Well it is to end up with five pair of lined black pants. Now that seems like a relatively easy thing to accomplish! You would think so right? But not for me...I am easily led astray by other colors and even though lately I seem to be sewing a lot of black, I am not a huge fan of it. So every fall, the quest begins anew.

Now for this working woman, five pairs of black lined pants preferably from wool crepe equate to five pairs of well fitted jeans. Black pants work with almost everything in my wardrobe and they really fit into in my work environment! They are such a basic...they can be dressed up or down. They can be part of a suit or work for a business casual Friday...they work for a somber, funeral event or work great for an after work sexyfunkykewl event. Now why do I need five pair - why to keep the drycleaning bill down silly!

Have I ever reached my! I will start out the season believing that this might be the year that I will actually achieve it...and then one pair will shred or get a hole in it or the iron will burn them...and that sets me back a pair. I know you are wondering why I don't just sit down one three day weekend and make 5 pair...good idea ~ but have you ever tried to sew FIVE pair of lined black pants in a couple of days...can we say cross-eyed!!!!

So where am I this year in the quest...I have three pairs of lined black wool crepe pants...and a fourth pair cut out...not sewn but cut out! So do you think sewing them up is on my list this weekend...heck no! I want to make the Simplicity 3631 dress that I cut out in black wool crepe to wear to our Corporate Christmas Event. I have this idea to look very Audrey Hepburn kewl in my black dress with pearls at my neckline and dripping from my earlobes.

But I am close...closer this year than ever before! And I think I might actually achieve my goal this year. I might actually end up with five pairs of lined black pants, ready for any can only hope...

So this leads me to my question for the day...What article of clothing would you duplicate five times for your wardrobe? And why? Or is it just not that important to you?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Little Info and a Challenge!

First there were several questions posed from my last couple of posts...

Directional Sewing/Stitching
The first was about directional sewing...which I subsequently found out after a little internet research is also called directional stitching. These were the two explanations that I liked best - italics are mine:

Directional stitching: 1 All sewing lines follow the direction of the fabric grain – also known as ‘stroking the cat’ (to find the direction of the grain, run finger along cut edge and stitch in direction in which fibres curl smoothly). 2. In dressmaking, directional stitching refers to stitching every seam in the same direction, ie: all seams waist to hem in order to prevent seams puckering or stretching. 3. On a sewing machine, this refers to multi-directional stitching including side to side (not just forwards and backwards).

Directional stitching - Stitching with the grain in woven fabrics. In knits, stitching all seams in the same direction

These websites had actually pictures and descriptions of directional sewing/stitching:
discusses directional sewing in knits’s instructions on directional sewing:

Taunton has a book called
Sew Basic that also discusses directional sewing. And there are three blogs on the internet that talk about directional sewing: Shannon (Hungry Zombie Couture), Tany’s (Couture et Tricot) and yours truly.

Did I give you enough links? *LOL* I started looking this up and was amazed at what I found though most of the good stuff was further into the pages of the Google's hits!

Okay, next - Seam Integrity...sorry no Googled links for this because I can tell this to you in several short sentences.

The seam allowances are drafted into the pattern to serve a purpose. And seam integrity is always being true to the drafted seam allowance....not shortening it, not messing with it, etc. sewing it exactly as the pattern dictates. For example, if a pattern has a 5/8" seam allowance always sew it 5/8. Or if it's 3/8" sew it that amount, do not tinker with it, hence the term seam integrity.

Of course this leads to Nancy's question about how do you fit if you don't take it from the seam allowances...this opens an entire suitcase full of worms...a Pandora's box of fit if you will! But briefly, IMHO true fit should be achieved by either slicing and dicing the pattern, using the pivot and slide method that Nancy Zieman teaches, or by altering the pattern piece in some manner. This is a very brief description because posts and posts and posts can be written about how to achieve a good fitting pattern. I think each sewist has or will have a method that they have perfected and that works for them and I WOULD NOT tell anyone that the method they use is wrong because fit is sooooooo subjective!

However, I will tell you that before I learned more about fitting patterns that I always altered a pattern at the seam allowances, too. Then I would wonder why my side seams or back seams were wonky. So instead, I will share with you a few book titles from my sewing library on fit!

1. How to Make Clothes that fit and flatter
Author: Adele Margolis

2. The Busy Woman's Fitting Book
Authors: Nancy Zieman with Robbie Fanning

3. Fitting Finesse
Author: Nancy Zieman

4. Every Sewer's Guide to Perfect Fit

(I think this was reissued under another name!)
Authors: Mary Morris & Sally McCann

5. Fabulous Fit
Author: Judith Rasband

6. Fit for Real People
Authors: Pati Palmer & Marta Alto

7. Singer Sewing Reference Library - The Perfect Fit

8. Fit and Fabric from Threads Magazine

Finally, the challenge! During my googling frenzy, I happened upon a sewing test on this site, [
Name - 2:23pm
File Format: Microsoft Word -
View as HTMLDirectional sewing lines. Notches that are used for matching pattern pieces. Pattern decorations. Used for shortening or lengthening. - to make this enormous link work just click on the Name-2:23pm portion. I have tried really hard to give as much "copyright credit" as I can to this googled entry by listing the entire link. If anyone knows who the test belongs to and can send me some information about it so that I can properly credit the author of the test, I would appreciate it.

The Challenge:
There is a sewing test here. You should take it and see how well you do. I'm gonna take it too and we can post our scores - let's say 2 pts for every right answer - in the comments section. Ready, set, go!

Monday, December 03, 2007

An Oldie but Goody

In my quest to overhaul my work wardrobe and "upgrade" it...I found this jacket in the back of my closet. It was my very first attempt at tailoring, constructed during a weekend session with Colleen Jones several years ago...egads more than several, more like seven!!!! Wow! I didn't realize that it had been that long.

Anyway, the fabric was a gift from a colleague when I worked at the button company. She had previously worked at a menswear firm and brought me several shopping bags with bows on them for Christmas. None of the pieces in the bags were more than 2 or 2.5 yards in length and a few pieces still reside unsewn in my collection...especially since they were classic menswear fabrics, they just don't have a shelf life or expiration date.

During the weekend session with Colleen I learned many things about tailoring since I was a complete neophyte. Things like a back interfacing piece cut from muslin, how to make piping from pleather and what filling inserts to use, how to interface the hemlines (both sleeve and jacket) and how to bag a lining.

As well as learning many things about my own sewing ability...the words "Seam Integrity" still echo in my mind. See back in the day, before I fine tuned my fitting abilities, I would regularly take some extra space from my seam allowances. I was told in no uncertain terms that Seam Integrity needed to be preserved and that there were other places and options for fitting. Another term that comes to mind is "Directional Sewing" and its purposes in elevating the look of a sewn garment. Needless to say that I learned a lot in that weekend that still affects how I sew today.

Last winter I pulled the jacket from the depths of my closet and wore it. Since then, it has found its way back into my normal clothing rotation. This is how I look after 14 hours in it today.

Vogue 7022 - OOP Sandra Betzina's Today's Fit Jacket - the pattern was issued in 1999. The pattern envelope describes it as a loose-fitting, partially interfaced, lined, below hip jacket has shoulder pads, princess seams, welt or patch pockets and long two-piece efffect sleeves.

100% wool menswear fabric

3/4" shoulder pads, pleather piping, 3 leather buttons, rayon lining

This jacket stands the test of time...for the things I learned...the construction techniques used to make it and how a classic piece of clothing is still in style SEVEN years later. I didn't wear it much after I first made it. It didn't really fit my business casual lifestyle. However, it works now and I am even contemplating making another one from the SB pattern.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Back to Basics

I didn't do much sewing this weekend...not because there isn't inspiration or desire but mostly because I just had a need to veg. Maybe it was the four days of sewing last weekend or maybe I just really wanted to finish reading my book...Exile by Richard North Patterson...Excellent book, BTW!

I had been mentally sewing an idea all week and even discussed with Marji but I will sew it at another time because it was more involved than what I wanted to deal with this weekend. So I took it back to basics....I made a simple lined straight skirt from an awesome piece of fabric.

Now the interesting thing about this fabric is that it just made it into the house. I purchased it from Metro Textiles on Monday evening with Cindy from the blog, "Wall Street by Day: Hard Core Crafter by Night." It was Cindy's first trip to Metro Textiles but I'm sure that it won't be her last! *smile* While I was waiting for Cindy to arrive, Kashi of course tortured me with some amazing pieces and even though I showed some restraint ~ 13 yards did come home with me.

I dare anyone to visit Kashi and not walk out with something! The only times I have ever made it out of that man's shop without a lot of fabric is when there were so many women there that he couldn't pay attention to me! It also doesn't hurt that he knows exactly what I want and will bring it to me without me asking...fabric temptation in human form! *LOL*

In this instance, basic is a relative term because nothing I make these days seems to be constructed without some involved technique! When I look back on how I use to sew a straight skirt, I realize that I put much more time, effort and use more complicated techniques than I did before. I don't know if this is the result of the internet and the freeflow of information available - along with pictures - or if its a maturing of my craft.

The interesting detail in this skirt is the twill tape that I added to the waist's seamline before attaching the waistband. I have noticed that during the day the waistline tends to spread on my wool skirts that have a waistband and zipper closure, not alot but a noticeable amount to me.

And on one of the sewing boards, I think it was the old Sewing World board, someone mentioned adding twill tape to their waistline to stabilize it. I have wanted to try this method for awhile but haven't made a straight skirt in a minute. This was my opportunity to try this, so I did. I will have to let you know how it fared at a later date because I'm not wearing the skirt in the next couple of days due to the freezing temps here on the East Coast.

Here is a picture of the finished skirt. I know it's hanging on the hanger but as soon as I wear it I will take an "action" shot! *LOL*

TNT straight skirt pattern

100% embroidered chocolate wool from Metro Textiles

9" zipper, leftover medium weight satin lining material, twill tape, 2 - 3/8" buttons from the collection

It was a lovely way to spend a chilly Sunday afternoon. Sooooo, how did you spend your Sunday afternoon?

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A Great Big Thank You!!!

I need to say thanks to several people because I am just humbled by their acknowledgement of my work...

Lauralo from Laura's Sewing Room
You have just made the most amazing Chanel jacket and several times during the construction process you have pointed to my blog and said that something I did inspired you. You do not know how much I appreciate the acknowledgement! I think you have an incredible talent and to think that something I did inspired you, just makes me speechless! So thank you!

Lisa from Sew Random
You wrote a great post about some awesome jackets that have been posted around blogland and on the sewing boards. The fact that you included my jacket in the post, touched me greatly! Thanks for thinking it worthy of inclusion with some very talented sewists!

Tearsa from That's Sew Live
Your enthusiasm for sewing is so infectious! It is wonderful to watch you start this journey...I can tell that this "hobby" will keep you intrigued for years to come. Mark my words, in time you will be able to tell your life's story through your sewing! Thank you for visiting my blog and enjoying my jacket though it's not as famous as yours! I mean I just go to work every day but thousands of people see your bright smile every morning on the news and you represent our craft so well!

Finally, I have a secret to share...every time I post a picture, review and/or post about something I've created, I get a little twinge in my stomach. Like every artist, these pieces are labors of love for me and the thought that you might not like my babies can be a little heart-wrenching! Okay, who am I kidding here a lot of heart wrenching! *LOL* So when someone thinks that my work is worthy of mentioning or writes a beautiful and thoughtful comment about it, it really makes my heart sing.

I know that many people visit and don't post and I appreciate every one of those visits, cause as you know from my previous post I am a Sitemeter fanatic (and Ann/Gorgeous Things' its all your fault! *LOL*) This last jacket really meant a lot to me because I was following in the footsteps of some amazing sewists who have created some awesomely beautiful garments, so I just wanted to say thank you!

Thank you for stopping by...thank you for commenting...thank you for looking...and thank you for shouting back at me!

Last but not is how I wore the Simplicity jacket to work today...I think I thoroughly managed to "corporatize" it!

Calling all my NJ Sewing Sisters

I am in love with Sitemeter. I love that you can go on at different times of the day, hit the world map and see it light up with those little white dots indicating where in the world people are from that visit my blog.

At first I was really excited to see all the lights in Europe, Asia, South America and Africa! My Goodness...Africa! Then I started to notice that there were an awful lot of local cities in New Jersey popping up! And I gotta tell you, several weeks ago when I asked for shout-outs no one from any local NJ cities shouted back at me!

So since I am a Jersey Girl through and through (I just love my state!) I am calling you out! These are the cities I have noticed visitors from in the last week....

  • Burlington, NJ

  • Cranford, NJ

  • East Rutherford, NJ

  • Edison, NJ

  • Essex Falls, NJ

  • Glendora, NJ

  • Layton, NJ

  • Maplewood, NJ

  • Mendham, NJ

  • Montclair, NJ - woohoo! I lived there for 3 years!!!!

  • North Brunswick, NJ - lived there for 10 years!!!!!

  • Piscataway, NJ - graduated from PHS! Go Super Chiefs!
So this is the thing...I would love for you to drop me a line ~ either in the comments or at my email address and say hi! Y'know from one Jersey Girl to another! And no pressure...if you want to remain anonymous, that's kewl but I sure would like to know whose stopping by...and thanks for reading my ramblings and visiting!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Its Always Something

Well, I get the jacket finished and I make the buttonholes...I go to sew the buttons on starting at the bottom working my way to the top and what do I find...

broken shank on way to sew it onto the what am I suppose to do. I guess I can head back to M&J to buy another button...but I am just not feelin' that right now.

I have put three days into this jacket and I am ready to move I go scrambling around in my considerable button collection and I find these vintage buttons from my friend Joanna. I originally wanted to put them on the jacket but there was only two of them....

Now should I have a different top button? Yeah! 'Cause I am sooooo over this jacket! *LOL* But will the button fit through the buttonhole...a few anxious seconds there and yes! It fits through the button for now I have a different top button than the other buttons...

I can always get to M&J during the week to pick up TWO more buttons to replace the broken button! Now what have I learned from this little adventure:

1. ALWAYS buy more than enough buttons - no more scrimping!

2. That the buttons I thought were plastic were actually glass so every time I dropped them I was probably damaging them!

3. It's good to have a collection because there is always something in there that can pinch hit! *LOL*
4. No one really looks at the buttons that hard anyway, 'cause I bet none of you noticed the top button was different!

Simplicity 3631 - The Jacket

I probably should start this post with the statement, that a pattern is just a guide to me. I feel like I need to make this disclaimer because my jacket has some of the basic components of the Simplicity pattern but several changes that affect the silhouette of the jacket. So here is the jacket:

The first and most important change is the sleeves. To be honest, I noticed this pattern before it was used in the Sew Stylish magazine. I passed on it because of the sleeves...too trendy for my oh-so-corporate life. When the magazine came out in August and highlighted the changes to the jacket, only then did I become intrigued with the pattern.

I used the magazine's suggestion for changing the sleeves (page 72) which recommends removing 6" from the hemline. I started with the longer sleeve used in the coat version of the jacket. I thought a 6" reduction would still leave the sleeve hem too wide so I originally removed 8". It was still too big so I reduced the hem by another 2" ~ making my total change 10" at the hem line. I then put in a 1.5" hem so that the sleeves appear slightly bracelet length. This works well for me because I have very slim wrists and didn't want the finished hem to overwhelm my wrists. Yet it still has that "trendy of the moment" jacket I was attempting to make.

This pattern is designed for an unlined jacket but I wanted a lining in mine so I cut the lining from my third choice fabric. I ordered some of the polyester $1.99 fabrics from Fabric Mart's sale hoping they would arrive in time for this sewing spree - NOT! My next choice was a thin, ltwt. pretty white floral silk (also from Fabric Mart). My third choice was the black/white printed satiny cotton from Metro Textiles. The youngest DD took one look at the black/white and said use that! It's rare that she weighs in on one of my garments and when she utters the, "I would wear that" statement I know its a winner.

The lining was cut exactly from the pattern pieces. I trimmed some excess off the front piece so that it would match the foldover of the fashion fabric. Okay, if you are looking for exact measurements here I can't help you! *LOL* Sometimes when I sew I'm like the cook who uses a pinch of this and a pinch of that! And the reason that I was pinching this time was because the foldover on the pattern is extremely large...approximately 3-4". I was using a size 22 pattern but needed a little extra space in the hem for my hips. I took the extra from the foldover in the front after determining that this is a design feature for the extra large buttons that are shown on the jacket front. Since my button choices aren't that large, I deduced that I had some room to work with there...and I stole it! *LOL*

The lining insertion was a two step process. First, I sewed the lining and jacket together and had to rip it apart because I forgot that the front facings had to be folded back upon each other and stitched down then flipped into the jacket. I originally sewed the lining all the way down to the end of the no flipping back and sewing. I ripped out 3" of the lining fabric and then followed the pattern's instructions for the facing...following so far! *smile* After that the lining was basted to the yoked edge and the sleeves. There were a lot of pins involved because I matched the lining up to every seam in the jacket and the sleeves to make sure that the lining did not get twisted during its insertion.

I hemmed the jacket and the lining separately (hand hemmed with rayon hem tape on the fashion fabric ~ double folded the lining fabric and hand stitched it). I used thread chains at the seams to hold the two pieces together. I tried hand hemming the two together but didn't like the look. The thread chains act like a coat lining and work for me.

Did I mention that this jacket probably took 2 to 3 times longer than necessary because of the lining! *LOL*

I used a lightweight tricot fusing for the front & back neckbands. I blockfused the fabric before cutting out the pieces. And I used a silk organza for the front bands. I interfaced the entire front band as per the pattern, realizing that I was going to end up with the silk organza doubled in the front of the bands but it was deliberate. I wanted the stability for the buttonholes and the buttons (which are a little heavy).

From the previous post you know that I was a greedy little button buyer at M&J last week. I bought both because in the store I couldn't decide. When I got home I had pretty much chosen the vintage looking buttons (Cidell ~ I don't think they are real vintage. Just a good way to describe them.) because they projected more of a corporate air. Then I made the mistake of laying them both down on the jacket and produced a dilemmia...hence the voting. BTW, I asked that question in three places ~ here, at Stitcher's Guild and to some sewing friends. Here the flowered buttons were preferred but at Stitcher's Guild and amongst my sewing friends the vintage were preferred.

I went with the vintage because the jacket is corporate trendy but not too trendy to stand out as a "What was she thinking?" moment.

A few extra details:

1. I added raglan shoulder pads to the jacket because when I tried it on without them it was too limp. The shoulder pads balance out my hips and I try hard not to make anything without using shoulder pads.

2. The buttonholes are very dense. Since I've learned how to change the density of my buttonholes I have been experimenting. *smile*

3. The tucking detail on the jacket front is sewn as darts. After reading all of the reviews on PatternReview and looking at Linda's, Danvillegirl Sewing Diary's version, I decided I liked the clean look of the darts better.

4. I lapped my version left over right. I liked the way I finished the left side better than the right side and I wanted to lead with my best foot forward when wearing the jacket closed. Not that it will be worn closed often.

5. No belt. I don't have the overly large version of this jacket because all of the design ease was used as wearing ease. It is just a loose fitting jacket on me so I didn't see the need for a belt.

6. I hand stitched the inside yoke bands down. I know the pattern instructions tell you to stitch in the ditch but I wanted a cleaner, less instrusive finish and with the extra layers from the lining fabric I wasn't sure how it would look. So handstitching it was.

If I were to make this again...and I'm thinking about it...I would add a center back seam and a pleat in the center back to make the jacket more looser fitting for my plus size body.

I also cut out a 4-gore TNT skirt from this fabric and the Simplicity 3631 dress in a smoother, lighter weight black wool crepe as well as a pair of TNT pants to be lined. I won't make any tops to go with these pieces because I have plenty in my wardrobe and all of these pieces will mix and match with garments presently residing in my closet.

And that's my version of Simplicity 3631...if you are contemplating making this pattern, I hope some of the explanations of what I did encourage you to go ahead and make it your own. And if you are plus size thinking that this pattern is too small or wouldn't work for you, I hope you realize that there is room to play with this pattern to get your own version of it...

But mostly I want to leave you with the idea that a pattern is just a guide. There is no need to make it exactly as it appears on the pattern cover. That you can and should see your own vision for it and run with it...making something that is unique and uniquely you!


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