Saturday, June 30, 2007

The Midway Point of 2007

It's been a crazy week at work and I have to admit that I haven't thought much about sewing let alone blogging. Sometimes life just interferes but since it pays the bills, I have to let it! *smile*

As I sat down to write a post, wondering just what I had to hit me that today is the last day of June...and that one half of 2007 is over. Doesn't it seem like it went extraordinarily fast? I mean especially the last few months? Or is it just me? Then I realized that it is time to tally up...and I groaned. Because even though I am much better this year than last with my fabric buying habits, I realize that I still have ALOT, ALOT, ALOT of fabric. So I am just not going there. I don't care how many yards are still in my collection. I am just going to celebrate the fact that I own it. I have plans for it and hopefully it will be used before I pass on. Enough said!

Next up - garment totals...I have made 25 garments since the beginning of the year. Only a quarter of what I originally wanted my garment total to be, but since I decided to revise that total earlier this year, I am doing okay. And from what I can forecast, this probably means that I will end up with approximately 50 new pieces for 2007. Pretty much the same amount of pieces that I created last year. So I guess with all of the things that I must do in life, I should be grateful that I can make that many pieces. Moving on...

Even though I haven't purchased any new fabric, I did get some wonderful mail this week! "My people" ~ sent me this:

and these two Butterick patterns purchased at the last 99 cent pattern sale at Hancocks:

and Butterick 4685

Thanks Marji! I really appreciate it!

I am going to need to look very corporate in the days following the 4th of July, big presentations at the office, so I need to come up with another "corporate" outfit. Since brown is my color of choice for these meetings, I am working through some ideas with the brown linen I purchased from Fabric Mart earlier this year. But today, I am going to work on some easy stuff! Skirts!

I love summer skirts. They are fun to wear and women are usually willing to experiment more with color in them. The streets of New York City are a sea of beautifully colored, printed and textured skirts! My TNT 4-gore skirt is coming back out and will be made using this fabric:

I got this from the clearance section of EOS earlier this year. It just screamed, "Lovely Summer Day" to me and I knew right away that I wanted a skirt from it. So that's what it shall be!

This second piece is from Fabric Mart (of course!) and it will be a simple elastic waist skirt with the border side at the hemline. Worn with a twinset it will be perfect outfit to wear during the first two days of next week when there will be limited staff in the office.

I know that I need to finish working on the dress from Simplicity 4093. However, since it is not something that I can wear to work in the next two weeks, I will set it aside. I will return to it closer to vacation time because it will make a great dress to hang out in. So that is what I am going to work on as soon as I get off the computer! *LOL*

Have a great day and enjoy the sewing journey!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Simplicity 4093

Since this is the "Summer of the Dress," I decided to make one more. Well, I am sure that I am going to make several more before I switch over to fall sewing especially since I haven't yet made a faux wrap one. And I just wasn't in the mood to sew something complicated this weekend. The dress in this pattern fit the bill.

First let me tell you that I did not finish the simple little dress. See I told you I wasn't much in the mood to sew this weekend, *smile*! But I wanted to show you the fabric and tell you a little about the dress.

Pattern first: Simplicity 4093
Misses'/Women's Skirt, Pants, Jacket and Dress or Top
The suggested fabrics for this pattern are ~ lightweight wool and wool blends, lightweight tweeds, sueded silks/rayons, silk linen, linen and linen blends, challis, crepe, crepe back satin, shantung, matte jerseys, lightweight pique, lightweight poplin and brocade. I bought this pattern last summer and I wanted to make several of the pieces. I almost made the jacket and pants last fall but as usual other things came into play and pushed this one out of the way.

2 yards of a rayon knit from Metro Textiles. I bought this fabric back in May when I went to Metro Textiles with Karla. I originally thought that I wanted a top from this fabric but when I saw it laying on top of one of the piles this afternoon I thought why not?!

I don't think this dress is suppose to be made using a knit. But that's how I saw it. So I made some basic alterations to the pattern, cut it out and sewed the dress up. I tried it on and realize that I have some simple alterations to do to the dress to make it fit better. But I am just really not in the mood ~ so here is where I left the dress:

I know, I know more hanger shots! But this is the best I can do right now. I am sure that I will have an update next weekend. It's just suppose to be a simple knit dress that I can wear on those really hot days when nothing else works! And that's all the sewing I did this weekend...Can you believe it? *LOL*

Saturday, June 23, 2007

This is all I got!

Yesterday was a good day for me! I met some sewing friends, had lunch at The Bryant Park Grill, went to M&J Trims on Sixth Avenue and then over to Metro Textiles for some serious fabric shopping.

But first I have to apologize because the only picture I have is the one I took when I came home. As usual I was rushing yesterday morning and I forgot to put my digital camera in my handbag. So even though several of my friends had cameras, they are from out of town and won't be back home until the beginning of next week - so no pics until then!

The fiberly women joining me were Diane E. (she wrote the article, Top Ten Patterns for Beginners on PatternReview), Mardel who authors the blog, Sew Distracted and my good friend, Joanna who has no web presence but has the most amazing fabric sense!

The weather in NYC was perfect yesterday...a slight breeze, a beautiful temperature, blue skies, it was perfect for a girls lunch in a fabulous place and then strolling down the bustling streets of Manhattan. First stop on the stroll was M&J Trims. Joanna hadn't been to M&J Trims in years, since it was a tiny little store and as Diane said when you walk in, the new and improved M&J can be quite overwhelming. But it is such a fun place to shop and if you take a breathe, walk slowly and look at things piece by piece it is not sooooo overwhelming! *smile*

We looked at buttons and trims and I found the trim for my next inspirational project, The St. John's dress. We spent time picking out and thinking of ideas for interesting pieces of trim and then we went in search of the perfect button for a handbag that Joanna is knitting. Once our purchases were paid for and a quick call made to Kashi, we headed over to Metro Textiles.

I have got to put in an unabashed plug here for Kashi. If you get the chance to come to NYC to fabric shop, you have got to stop by Metro Textiles. I know there are several other well-known fabric stores in NYC and I am not saying not to patronize them because every fabric shop in the garment district now needs your patronage! But what I am saying is that Metro Textiles is so special because of the pieces that Kashi has and Kashi himself!

I am so used to arriving at Kashi's later in the evening, that I was actually surprised that there were customers there ~ silly me! But there was one particular customer there that it was so nice to meet in person, Trina who is known as "Nicegirl" on PR and who blogs as The Slapdash Sewist. And Cidell, I know a secret! *smile* She was picking out some fabric before heading out to The Mermaid Parade in Coney Island! It was so much fun to meet someone else from Pattern Review and blogland!

From my opening shot, you can see that I purchased just one piece of fabric in trying to keep with the spirit of my fabric moratorium, but Diane, Joanna and Mardel picked out some amazing pieces. I especially loved Joanna who just dug behind bolts to find the most beautiful treasures. I took the only seat in the store and watched them shop. Fabrics in breathtaking hues - silk charmeuses in deep jewel colors, an awesome royal navy blue sheer silk chiffon, a taupe lace with pearls encrusted on it, a beautiful muted pastel print knit, rayon knits in a multitude of colors, velours in stunning jeweled tones of red and purple and several different fabrications in all shades of green were oohhed and ahhhed over and CUT!

I have been to Kashi's many times but the pieces these women were digging for, finding and placing in their piles were a fabricaholic's dream! At one point Joanna pulled a piece of lace out and Kashi backed it with this striking olive green silk charmeuse and all of our mouths just dropped open! The combination was that gorgeous! There was some serious fabric shopping going on here folks! And I got to be there!

The fun soon ended as everyone had other appointments that they had to go to in the city with their families and I headed back home to NJ. The one sad note was that as I was walking down 40th Street to Port Authority, one of the last remaining fabric stores on 40th Street, Fikret Fabrics is closing. They have big signs up in the window that the store will close on July 14th. Everything is of course, deeply discounted. So if you work or live nearby, or you're visiting the city before then, please go by and purchase something. Their rent has been raised because they are directly across the street from the NY Times new office building and they are not moving...just folding up and going home!

So I entered the Port Authority on a sad note...the 40th Street that I have shopped for beautiful fabrics for the last 25 years is gone. Only a few fabric stores remain closer to Seventh Avenue but most of those wonderful treasures have gone away and now all I have are my memories.

However, it was an extraordinary day and I will treasure the new memory I have of fabric shopping on a beautiful summer day with some amazing fiberly women!

Friday, June 22, 2007


Many things inspire me to sew. A magazine article, something I saw someone wearing on the street in NYC, a piece of clothing in a store window, and sometimes even nature itself inspires me. I also have a collection of photos from magazines, catalogs and the internet that have triggered something creative in me and cause me to want to create something.

Now not all inspiration is a direct copy like the Chanel dress...sometimes I will see something and it will trigger a response that is nothing like the original and make me run to my sewing machine.

This picture:

Made me look for fabric and I created this jacket.

This ad:

Inspired me to look in my collection for fabric for this dress:

The picture of the St. John's dress will become something from these pieces:

So I was wondering. What triggers your imagination and inspires you? What makes you run to your sewing room ready to come up with an amazing garment? Is it fabric? Is it a pattern? Is it a picture? Share...I would love to know!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

The Letdown...

Okay, I am just going to admit this up front...I am not in love with "The Dress." Yes, I am referring to the pink Chanel knock-off dress. I keep seeing everything that is wrong with it. And I keep thinking that I could have made it better. And then I wonder why y'all can't see it too?! *LOL*

I think I am going to let it hang in the closet and become friends with all of the other things hanging there and maybe one morning when I am desperate for something new to wear I will pull it out and think, "oh wow, maybe I should wear this!" And maybe upon wearing it I will be happy with it because right now I just DON'T LIKE IT!

I am truly hoping that I am experiencing sewer's know how you get all burnt out after completing a major project. And this was the mother of all major projects and accomplished in a rapid fire turnaround time because I just wanted it done! Maybe that was a mistake! *LOL* Maybe I should have taken my time and let the anticipation build ~ or not! Who knows...'cause I just don't like the blankety-blank dress. Can you imagine? All that work and no thrill!

Linda asked:
"Do you have a sense for the amount of time this dress took from concept to completion?"

My answer:
I saw the picture on a Thursday evening and started to twist it around in my mind. So about 2 hours Thursday night working through the construction process. Friday, I pulled the fabric out of my fabric closet and more thought time - another 2 hours. Saturday - pattern work and worked out the pleats - 4 hours. Sunday - sewed on and off during the day - 6 hours. Monday - sewed on and off during the day - 6 hours. Approximately 24 hours in all.

Okay so onto other things...

My silver metallic linen arrived yesterday. I have to say thank you to Els, one of the Sewing Divas, for writing and giving me some pressing tips. Thanks again! Els said that this fabric has been really hot in the Netherlands and I am pretty excited about it. I love how it shimmers in the light.

However, I will not be sewing this just yet. I have a work thingy to go to next Thursday - one of those casual, outdoors things (didn't anyone tell these people that I am NOT an outdoors type of girl!) so I need either a denimy dress, skirt or pants outfit. So you know what I will be making this weekend! I really need to learn how to go to the mall! *LOL*

The St. John knock-off dress has been pushed back...though I will look for some awesome ribbon or embroidered trim this Friday when I am fabric shopping in the garment district with some friends...can we say bye-bye fabric moratorium! *LOL* Well hey I gave it a good try!

Gonna go back to that book I started reading...its pretty good! *smile* 'Cause Marji, I just don't knit! *LOL*

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Building of a Dress - Part Two

First, I want to say that this was a totally encompassing experience that I don't want to repeat any time soon! *LOL* And then I want to say that I have another idea for this dress to make it out of linen using a ribbon for the trim at the neckline and the yes, I am totally crazy! Here is a picture of the Chanel dress one more time on Cameron Diaz.

The back of this dress is almost a letdown in sewing details because the front has all of the details! The back only has a back neck yoke and waistband and on the next incarnation I will probably lose the back neck yoke. I guess I could have added some pleating detail to the back but felt like it was overkill.

And here is the dress on me:

A few more construction details...

1. Matching up the side seams with the waistband detailing was a major concern. I used a lot of pins and some hand-basting to make sure that the seam wouldn't move when I machine sewed it together.

2. I added the seam band to the sleeve, topstitched it and added a facing.

3. I inserted the lining (after cutting lining pieces from the finished dress pieces). I also added a lace hem to the bottom of the lining so that it would look like a slip.

4. A one inch hem was turned up on the dress and rayon seam binding was added to it. Then it was hand stitched down.

One thing about this dress is that I did a lot of topstitching on it. I didn't see this detail in the pictures but I liked it for my dress. I deliberately used a thread color that sunk into the fabric and a small stitch length because this was not a detail that I wanted standing out. However, I felt all the topstitching was necessary to keep all the parts in place.

I did omit the front pockets and the front seaming. The front pockets because they would just not be attractive on me and the seaming because I was more concerned with making sure that I got the pleating, yoke and waistband details to work...maybe in the next incarnation I will add the front seaming back ~ but definitely not the pockets!

Even though the details on the back of the dress were the simplest, it seemed like it took forever to finish the dress. Or maybe its just that I don't like finishing details! *smile*

And even though I have an idea for another dress like this in mind...this is what is really inspiring me next. I know I wrote about the pink & chocolate combination for a pantsuit and I even have the pants and top cut out but dresses just seem to be pushing my creative buttons right now.

This St. John dress is much simpler than the Chanel one and will probably be easier to complete. I am also using my TNT dress pattern to make this one too!

And if you want to see more pictures of the dress and the process they are available in my Yahoo photo album!

I think I am going to go read a book now!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Building of a Dress - Part One

Or as a subtitle, "My Version of a Chanel Dress"

I was inspired to make this dress by a picture I saw of Cameron Diaz wearing this Chanel dress in last week's People magazine as well as the July 2007 issue of InStyle Magazine. It was the details in this dress that intrigued me. I loved the yoked neckline, the pleats on the bodice and the band at the empire waistline.

Usually I see a garment and look for a pattern to duplicate the look. But this time to my amazement, there was something about this dress that encouraged me to use my TNT dress pattern as my starting point. I actually spent the better part of my bus ride home, reconstructing the dress in my mind and figuring out how to make the elements that excited me about the dress. Then I mentally toured my fabric collection, searching for just the right piece of pink fabric. Happily realizing that I had a wonderful 5 yard piece of woven silk in a light pink that I purchased several years ago from Vogue Fabrics at a Sewing Expo in Worcester, Mass.

First the steps I used to change my TNT pattern:

1. Since my TNT pattern has already been cut into a bodice and skirt pieces for the front and back, I just made a copy of both front and back bodice pieces to use as my starting point.

2. Then I measured off a 2" yoke on both the front and back bodice pieces using a compass. You would think that I would use a french curve or some other curved measuring tool but I have always liked using a simple compass to create curved pieces. A 5/8" seam allowance was added to the bottom of both yoke pieces.

3. A 5/8" seam allowance was added to the new curved front & back bodice piece.

4. I made a 2" wide sleeve band with a 5/8" seam allowance for the bottom of the sleeve. I folded back 1" on the sleeve pattern. Why did I only fold back 1 inch? Well a 1 inch hem allowance was included and I didn't want to lose it. I don't know if this will work yet but I am working my way through this - that's why I titled the post the building of a dress.

5. Made a 2" waistband piece for both the skirt front and the skirt back pieces. I added 5/8" seam allowances to the top and bottom portion of the waistband pieces.

Now, I need to stop here and say that these are my fiddlings and shouldn't be taken as gospel. I am just explaining what I did to "build the dress that I saw in my head!" I do not think of myself as the best teacher or instructor and I really appreciate the people who can give great straightforward instructions on how to construct a garment because it sure ain't me! *LOL*

One of the most intriguing parts of the dress to me were the pleats on the bodice. And it took a lot of "thinking time" to figure out what would work best for me! Here is what I finally worked out:

1. I cut a 1/2 yard of fabric from my main piece. This piece of fabric was about 6 inches longer than my front bodice pattern piece was on the top and the bottom.

2. Then I marked 2.5 inches from my center front. I literally put the ruler down on the fabric and using a fabric marker placed a notch at the top of the fabric on one side of 2.5 and another notch at zero.

3. From those notches I measured 2 inches out for 10 inches, leaving a notched mark, every 2 inches on both sides of the original mark and on the top and bottom of the fabric piece. Clear as mud right?! *smile*

4. I pressed the pleats down - leaving the 2.5 inch center piece and then folding the notches back to meet each other at every 2 inch mark. Hope the pictures are better at explaining what I am so obviously lacking! *smile*

5. Pressed the pleats down and then topstitched the pleats 3/8ths from the pleated edge. I decided to topstitch them because I have a little more bosom than Cameron Diaz and I didn't want the pleats flopping open. Stitched down they lay flat but give the detail I desired. I don't know if the pleats are stitched down or not on the original dress because I couldn't find a close up shot of the bodice front that allowed me to see that amount of detailing.

6. The topstitching is done in small stitches because I didn't want it to be an obvious feature of the dress especially since there will be so much topstitching on this dress.

7. I also added the bust darts that I normally have in this dress. Again this was a feature that I couldn't see in the pictures so I went with what worked well for me.

After getting the pleated front made, I added the waistband to the bottom of the bodice top and then I carefully added the yoked piece. I was worried about my calculations but the yoked piece went on beautifully.

I was ambivalent about adding a lining to the dress. My original thought was just to double up the yoked pieces and leave the dress unlined. But after holding it up to the light, I realized that I would be able to see through the dress and after all of this work, I didn't want that to take away from the dress. So I cut a piece of lining from the bodice top with the yoke and waistband added and then a piece of lining from the skirt bottom.

All through the process of constructing this dress it has felt like I was building it layer upon layer. When I start a garment, I usually lay out all of my pattern pieces on the fabric and cut them all out at one time. Then I make any markings that I need to the garment. Add interfacing where it is needed and finally take all of the pieces to the serger where I serge finish all of the pieces before beginning construction. However, the process for this dress has been to cut out pieces and do the markings as I need them. It is probably a wasteful use of the fabric but there is more than enough and I need to be able to see how each piece fits together rather than have a whole bunch of pieces cut out and working from there.

The last part of this installment is adding the skirt front to the bodice front. I folded down 2 inches on the top of the skirt pattern and added 1.5 inches to the hem. I added some to the hem because I was worried that the dress might be too short. I can always cut that off the hem later but I would rather be safe than sorry. I attached the front skirt to the front bodice and topstitched the waistband. Here is where I am so far:

I like this! It has turned out better than I thought it would and by using my TNT dress pattern, I can hold the front up to me in the mirror and see that I don't have any fitting issues.

Tomorrow - Part 2 and the finish, 'cause I just can't drag anything out!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

My Confession

Okay, I am just going to admit it up front...I am a fabricalcoholic and a cheat. Know how I was boasting last night about how I was fabric free for 13 days ~ well today I broke that vow!

My morning started off innocently enough. I got up. Got dressed. Went to work. Yes, there was a little tension at work this morning but since I had things to do away from my desk it was almost noon before I sat down at my computer. I smugly deleted emails from my work email from and the den of temptation, Gorgeous Things. I pop into my personal email addy and continue on in this vein, delete fashion fabrics club - even ignoring the $2.95 shipping charge note in bold, not even reading the headline on a message from Sawyerbrooks in my smugness.

Then throwing caution to the wind, I open the Thursday Special from Textile Studios. I mean, how many mornings have I opened this email and been immune to the blahness. I usually only purchase from Textile Studios once, maybe twice a year. They are a low level radiation threat. Unlike Fabric Mart which is nuclear radiation in my book and needs to be avoided at all costs, if I don't want to suffer from radiation poisoning!

But this morning, oh this morning, Textile Studios was bringing its "A" game! And I saw this:

Silver Glazed Linen#0515-11 Linen/Metallic 54" Wide $16.50/yd.

Now a little background about why this fabric caused me to fall off the wagon....As you know I love Dana Buchman. She designs the kinds of clothing that I love to wear! And last Sunday she did an hour on QVC...beautiful classic pieces that work for my new lifestyle. I did not purchase from that show, but I did notice that Dana is using the glazed linen from her "Collection" (that is sold in high end stores) in some of the pieces that she is selling at QVC. And I say to myself, "self, if you can find some of that glazed linen, buy it!"

Famous last words, *sigh* because I found the glazed linen this morning. I kept that dang page open all day...through a meeting, through lunch, through a few phone conversations...I reluctantly closed it out without purchasing the fabric as I was going home. But y'know I have an hour and a half commute home. During which time, I was inspired by some garments in a magazine and that gosh darn fabric started to turn into a garment in my mind. I was doomed!

I just gave in and did what I do naturally...I bought the fabric...after arguing with Marji about whether or not to purchase 4 or 2.5 yards, we settled on 3.5...enough for a jacket and a skirt, even though I originally wanted enough for a pantsuit. So with the input of a few numbers from my credit card into the secured order cart, my fabric moratorium is kaput and this is my confession...

But since I do sew I want to show you me in my black/creme linen dress.

And I am climb back on the pray that I last the next 16 days and to secretly yearn for the glazed linen to wing its way to me as fast as possible so that I can play with it! *smile*

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I have no new pieces to share. No fabric to squeal excitedly about since I am on a fabric moratorium. No new patterns to share since "my people" went on vacation during the last Hancocks sale and wasn't available to feed that habit! Absolutely nothing ~ especially since work has been kinda hectic this week and I haven't even had much time to think about sewing....

So, I have been journeying through blogland looking wistfully at what others are making or showing on their blogs:

First - Erica has an article about Stepha Henry who is missing. Check out the details on her blog. Since she is a local girl this has been playing a lot in my area newscasts and has been detailed in all the NY newspapers.

Second - my friend Kathryn (fxzdoc on Stitcher's Guild) has just made the kewlest carwash skirt. You can see it here! I love Kathryn's sewing and get so inspired by what she makes! Enjoy!

Third - I found this at Christina's blog. It isn't the studs that set my mind twirling even though they are a very kewl element ~ it was all the tucking down the front of the blouse that sent my mind whirling and wondering if I had a nice piece of fabric that I could tuck the front of and make into a lightweight summery dress using my TNT dress pattern.

Fourth - check out Shannon's latest creations on her blog! I love her color combination and have found myself looking sideways at this pattern that I had previously dismissed. God, I love it when someone else's ideas make my mind spin!

And lastly - eyelet, eyelet how much I love thee! Check out Cidell's newest dress - Talbots, I think not!

It is day 13 of my fabric moratorium... I may or may not make it to the end of the month. I have friends coming in from out of town and we are headed to Metro Textiles next Friday. Now it is my duty as a good sewing friend to take them there but I have no will power once Kashi starts pulling out fabric, so say a prayer for me that I don't come home with an additional 20 or 30 yards! *LOL*

Well I'm out so enjoy your sewing journeys and stitch something for me!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

More Embroidered Pieces

In my opinion, some fabrics should not linger in your collection. Some fabrics have a shelf life and should be used right away. These fabrics are usually trendy pieces ~ pieces bought that readily identify with a RTW garment that is hot now. If you hold onto these pieces and use them later, the finished garment usually looks old or stale.

Eyelets, printed eyelets and big-eyed eyelets are trendy fabrics in my book. I bought several pieces earlier this year and I am trying to get them sewn up quickly. One reason is because I obviously want clothing that looks like what everyone else is wearing now and another reason is that I don't want to hold onto these fabrics too long. I didn't purchase a huge quantity of these fabrics or much yardage. I actually only have two more eyelet fabrics in my collection, a black big eyed piece similar to the chocolate one I just used for the jacket/dress combo and a multi-colored printed embroidered one from Metro Textiles. I know that I want the black eyelet to become a spring trench type jacket but have no idea what to do with the other piece. I am sure something will come to me!

Because of this reasoning, I used the black pieces highlighted in yesterday's post first.

Sewing Workshop Mission Tank (TNT pattern) and TNT pants pattern.

Black bias binding used to finish off the neckline and armhole sleeves of the top.

Black & White polka dot 100% cotton with an embroidered edge
Black herringbone linen

I think I found a new suit look for the "muslin" Butterick 4980! I will start work on the chocolate/pink combination next weekend. These pieces will take a little longer to come out of my sewing area since they involve a few more construction steps unless of course inspiration strikes first! As always, I will keep you updated on my sewing adventures!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Musings on Sewing

After being back at work for a week, I found myself dreaming about sewing. And I noticed that the things I desired to make were a little different from what I thought of when I was actually home sewing.

Dresses are great pieces and so easy to wear but some days I need an outfit that will work with climbing under desks and working in our production room. So I need to be able to wear at least one coordinated pantsuit a week. Two color combinations started running through my mind for new pantsuits. Maybe this was in direct reflection to the fact that four new dresses rolled out of my sewing machine last week!

The first color combo is a brown polyester pinstripe from Timmel Fabrics. It has a pink pinstripe running through it which satisfies my need to add chic to the corporate style I am required to wear. This will become my standard pantsuit - short jacket with long sleeves, a notched collar and three button closure. And a pair of TNT pants. The pink textured knit is from and will become the sleeveless version of Silhouette's Dana Top.

The second color combo harks back to corporate black. Even though I seem to be incorporating more black into my wardrobe (kicking and screaming all the way, like Paris Hilton going back to jail!), I am trying to find interesting fashionable ways to use it. The black/white polka dot embroidered cotton was purchased from Metro Textiles and will become a Sewing Workshop Mission Tank. Hey it works, and I am sticking with what works! *smile* The black herringbone linen from Ebad Fabrics will become a pair of pants. These two pieces will be worn with the white linen jacket from Butterick 4980. A funky, fashionable pantsuit outfit from corporate black.

On the dress front ~ I am rethinking my colors for the Threads dress - Simplicity 3744. My first idea was for the dress to be made from a black/grey/white cotton print with a black linen band. However, I want to use something a little lighter and summery looking. So until I figure out what fabrics I want to use for this dress I am setting it aside and will revisit it before the summer is over. Hopefully, my fabric collection will offer some inspiration!

I wanted to show you some detail shots of the blue cotton paisley dress. After the travails of coming up short on the fabric and then it becoming the last item made during my sewing vacation instead of the first, I had a great idea for the use of the cotton embroidered trim. The trim was too large to use at the neckline and at the waist and I didn't have two kinds of white crochet trim on hand. So I simply cut the top and bottom off the trim, serged the edges and added that to the v-neck fronts. The entire piece of trim was used under the bustline and enough was left to add a tie to the back of the dress. I am still not sure about the tie feature. It will have to pass the wearability factor before I am sure that I will keep it on the dress.

Now to answer some questions:

1. What did I wear on the first day back to work?
Why the brown eyelet dress and jacket of course!

2. What pattern is my TNT dress pattern?
Butterick 5932 OOP - TNT - this pattern has a copyright date of 1988 on it. And if by chance you happen to own this pattern and notice that there isn't a knee length dress with short sleeves included in in the pattern, that's because years ago I made the empire waist, calf-length sleeveless dress. I made it several times - well actually I made a series of those dresses and I loved the pattern block. So I altered the pattern pieces to reflect the new look I wanted and I have been using the pattern since.

3. What is TNT patterns?
Tried and True is what TNT means. It's one of those sewing acronoyms that is spoken a lot in the sewing community. And the definition is a pattern that you have altered for fit and can now be used with immunity. Okay that is an interesting word but basically it can be used again and again to expand your wardrobe.

Finally a few comments and I'm out:

1. Cidell ~ you do have a TNT pattern. What about the Hotpatterns Cosmpolitian dress that you have successfully made a few times!? That counts as TNT in my book!

2. Laura ~ you are absolutely right about the dresses. I definitely look better in them than on a hanger and I should take more pictures of me in them so that you can see that. Or at least add the legs back to my dress form so that they can be photographed on Lulu especially since I don't always feel like getting dressed to get my photo taken!

Well I am off to surf the net, read some blogs and then to sew! To everyone joining me, enjoy your sewing journeys! Peace!

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My 30 Day Program

I am on Day Six of my June Fabric Moratorium. At Stitcher's Guild in the Fabric Moratorium folder, a group of women have joined together to stop purchasing fabric for 30 days. Now I know you are wondering why I, who just a few months ago was awarded "The Fabric Enabler of the Year Award" by the participants of Stitchers Guild, am now participating in a fabric moratorium?

Because I stayed home for a week and sewed and barely touched the mountain of fabric that is laying outside the door of my beloved fabric closet. See, its like this...I love fabric. I love handling it, touching it, buying it, sewing it and owning it. I don't see any problem with having a healthy and robust fabric collection. However, mine is now everywhere and it is just not cute. So before the fabric piles become much larger and I think of even more reasons why I should own just one more piece...I am setting a moratorium for myself.

Now why am I blogging about it? Because, as they do at AA, I am standing up and confessing so that the whole world will know that, "Hi, my name is Carolyn and I am a fabricaholic!" But also and most importantly because I was tempted today. Sorely tempted by my most favorite of internet fabric stores, "Fabric Mart" I love that place! When I am having a bad day, they have just the right piece of fabric to soothe what ails me. When I am feeling creative, they always have an unusual piece at a fantabulious price to inspire me and make me believe that I can sew anything. Fabric Mart is my muse. My inspiration. The ying to my creative yang. And today, it was almost the death of my moratorium!

It all started innocently enough. I was at my desk at my place of employment working on a cost analysis when out of the corner of my eye, I see a fleeting email message flit across my computer screen. Not quite sure what it was, I pop into Outlook and there it was..."The Temptation." 50% off all blow out last chance fabrics. And the first question that ran through my mind was, "Should I look?" Not delete this email right away, but...should...I...look! I got up from my desk and went to the kitchen for a treat of Mountain Dew. Maybe it wouldn't look so tempting after some time away from my desk. Maybe I would have the strength to delete the email. Maybe my computer would blow up! *LOL*

Of course none of these things occurred and back at my desk I gave into temptation and looked. Now there is this bible verse that says that sin occurs first as a thought...well folks, I sinned today. I looked. I scrolled through all 8 pages! I even put a piece in my cart. But then, mercifully, miraculously and thankfully, there was nothing else I wanted. Can you believe in 8 pages of fabric I only found one piece that I wanted and I only wanted 2 yards at that!!! You just can't justify $8 of shipping for 2 yards of fabric...and there weren't any cart fillers. You know, cart fillers - the fabric that you think you can make something with so you add it to the cart to justify the shipping charge!

So here is my confession...I almost slipped today. I almost purchased fabric. I almost voided my 30 day program before I even really began. Please say a prayer for me that I will make it through the next 23 days. I mean it is only 23 days! It is not like I need or really want fabric. I really want to be fabric free for 23 more days!!!! I don't want Mr. UPS man to smile at me as he hands me his electronic clipboard to commit my signature to as he subtly grins while saying another box from Fabric Mart! Please, Mr. UPS man doesn't even live with me. I don't need his comments - no matter how cute he is!

*Sigh* I made it through today but I am worried ~ truly I am that this little adventure is going to be harder than I thought...take more will power than I thought...and expose a seamy side to my nature that I thought was under control! *Sigh* Just 23 more days to be the woman I know that I can be...

I will let you know how I fare....

...and for those who were looking for it...a picture of me in the blue cotton paisley dress - the vacation circle has been completed.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

One More Time...

Today on Stitchers Guild ~ Fran G. wrote this to me in the Sharing, Inspiration & Project Photos VII Folder ~ "You make a strong case for TNT patterns..why do I forget to go to them sometimes, heading off in search of the "perfect" pattern when I may already have it??"

The comment really made me think about how much I use a TNT pattern. I have written about my love of TNT patterns before and I don't basically have anything new to say. This time I wanted to show you how a TNT pattern can affect your wardrobe and the possibilities. This is my TNT dress pattern in all its glory:

I have made this dress 11 times (although only 10 are shown) and for every season. And I thought it really apropo to show you this dress pattern with all its possibilities, since this is the "Spring/Summer of the Dress."

From left to right they are:

1. Black linen dress with short sleeves but the details are what makes this dress. I have only worn it once because I made it to wear to my father's funeral. My friend Nabil sent me the black linen special when I called and explained what I needed it for. I added black lace to the hem and used a green bemberg lining to give the dress some joy...because my father would have wanted that! Oh my! I seem to be writing a lot about my dad lately but this dress is so special to me.

2. The black/creme linen circle sleeveless dress with the black satin bias binding that I just completed on my sewing vaca.
3. The black/white plaid jumper with the black piping that I used for my "Corporate Chic" SWAP.

4. The black/white cotton print that I made during my sewing vaca.

5. Another favorite the red crepe dress with short sleeves. I changed the neckline shape on this dress and pintucked the fabric. An epic project but so worth the effort!

6. A new version in brown lace with an apple green swirl silk inspired by a dress in a Jessica London catalog.

7. The blue cotton paisley version with white crochet trim.

8. A pale pink in a silk/linen blend with short sleeves and trim on the sleeves lined in a beige bemberg rayon. It originally had trim at the hem too but I removed that this year for a cleaner look.

9. An orange/pink floral print in rayon linen with short sleeves - a cool, breezy summer dress.

10. A multi-color pastel print on a white background. The fabric is a linen and it was purchased from Rosen & Chadick when they were still a presence on 40th Street. This version has short sleeves and piping at the neck, sleeve hems and the hem of the dress. It is lined in a fine cotton batiste.
What makes each dress different is the fabric, the trim or lack of and then finally the alterations I started to perform to the pattern. For the black funeral dress the pattern was cut apart and sewn back together. In other versions, the sleeves have been removed, the bodice and skirt separated and finally the bodice redrafted. Basically, I just played! *smile*

I have made this dress in linen, silk, rayon/linen blend, wool crepe, wool blend & cotton. Fabric brings a few different qualities to the garment also. Look how slim it looks here in the silk/knit pairing. Same dress, same dimensions, different look.

The point of this post is to encourage you to come up with your own TNT patterns and to play! You will be amazed at how much fun your sewing will become when you are concentrating on being creative instead of always worrying about fit! And how much more you will get accomplished when you're only concerned about making a wonderful garment!!!

If you haven't thought about it before I hope I have persuaded you to look at it at TNT patterns a little differently!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

In 1995 my father asked me if I would speak to the new Youth Pastor at his church. Pastor Pam was preparing to preach her trial sermon in a few weeks and couldn't find a robe that she like. So my dad asked me if I would help her out. Now my dad rarely asked me for much so I was more than willing to talk to Pastor Pam.

Around this time, I was running a home sewing business so that I could be home with my children. That venture didn't work out for a variety of reasons and truthfully I don't miss it! But at the time, I would take just about any sewing job that I could get.

I met with Pastor Pam and she told me what she was looking for in a robe. I found a hard working black polyester fabric, a pattern (that I have no idea what it was! I need to go through the pattern stash and see if I can remember!) and some kenta cloth that looked like it had crosses woven into it. Surprising even myself, the robe turned out pretty good. After a fitting and changing a few things primarily length related, my dad came by a few days before her trial sermon and picked the robe up to deliver it. She wore the robe for her trial sermon and was very happy.

Now fast forward 12 years...Friday night my mom and I went to a dinner to celebrate my sister's work with youth at the very same church. Sadly my dad wasn't with us since he passed away almost two years ago. Pastor Pam is now an Assistant Pastor but while she was the Youth Pastor she worked with my sister in several youth activities so she was at the celebration. As I stood chatting with Pastor Pam, she told me that she worn "the robe" last Sunday to minister.

That robe is now 12 years old and still going strong. However, she was experiencing some velcro failure from multiple trips to the dry cleaners. I, of course, suggested that she give it back to me so that I could repair it. I told her that the changes didn't sound like they would take much time and I could have it back to her on Sunday. After a quick trip home, Pastor Pam gave me the robe to be repaired.

I spent just an hour today replacing the velcro, tacking down a loose shoulder pad and sewing down one strip of kenta cloth that had come apart. The robe is hanging waiting for my mom to pick it up on her way to church tomorrow. But it was just amazing to work on something that I had constructed 12 years ago. The robe was still functioning and in good shape. I don't have clothing that I have made in my own wardrobe that is that old! Five, six years tops is the oldest piece!
I am so honored to have made this in the first place and even more honored to be able to repair a robe that has obviously meant so much to this Pastor.

And a parting shot...

(Summerset I hope you don't mind that I "borrowed" this from you!) Today I went and picked up some flowers to go in the flower pots that my mom gave me for my birthday. (They are the blue ones BTW!) I thought they made my balcony look so cute!

Tomorrow is my last day of sewing vaca and I will finish the dress that started my sewing vacation week - the blue cotton paisley one!

Friday, June 01, 2007

So Far

Here is what I have made so far...

I finished the chocolate brown eyelet jacket up just before I needed to get dressed for dinner out tonight.

And no I did not wear this out...The pieces that I have completed so far are:

  1. Butterick 4980 - jacket in a white jacquard linen
  2. Sewing Workshop Mission Tank - in white jacquard linen
  3. TNT dress - sleeveless in 100% black 'n white cotton
  4. TNT dress - sleeveless in Black/Creme circle print linen & black rayon/linen
  5. Butterick 4980 - jacket in chocolate brown cotton eyelet
  6. Butterick 6082 - Tank dress in chocolate brown cotton eyelet
I still have the blue cotton paisley TNT dress and Simplicity 3744 to finish. I believe I can get both done before the weekend is up but we shall see.

Okay a few more pics ~ here is just the jacket.

And just the dress:

And last but not least, is my review of Butterick 4980! I broke my own rule and posted it to PatternReview just for you Karla!

Pattern Description:

Loose fitting waist length jacket has neck band and three-quarter length raglan sleeves. B: button loop

Pattern Sizing:
14-16-18-20 ~ I normally use a 22 or 24 but I adjusted this to fit me.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?
I made myself follow the instructions instead of free-styling or just looking at the pictures. The instructions were pretty clear except for in one part where you attach the yoke to the jacket. If there hadn't been a picture there it could have gotten dicey. If we were using 4 stars to rate the pattern instructions - this would get 3.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
The jacket is fresh and trendy and it reminded me of a Liz Claiborne jacket that was in a lot of ads in the spring fashion magazines. So that was the attraction to the pattern.

Fabric Used:
100% cotton eyelet in chocolate brown from Metro Textiles

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:
I made several pattern alterations:
1. I lengthened the pattern 2 inches to fall at my natural waistline.
2. I slashed the front piece from the marked bust point down to the hem and spread it an inch at the hemline.
3. I added a center back seam to the jacket back.
4. I added a center back seam to the yoke back.
5. I reduced the amount of the front fold from 2.5 inches to 1 inch.

Since the fabric is an eyelet all of the seams were bound in cotton bias binding. I was concerned that with the large eyelet holes, serger thread wouldn't hold and I wanted a seam finish for the jacket. I used brown lining fabric for the yoke instead of interfacing. It gave the firmness the yoke needed because I didn't have a dark sew-in interfacing for this fabric.

After adding binding to the sleeve hem and the hem of the jacket, I really liked the look of the binding that I did not hem the jacket. Just left the binding alone. The binding is just ironed in half and applied with some raw edges. I saw this technique on a designer dress and wanted to try it. Since this outfit will be dry-cleaned, I thought this would be a great opportunity to try it out.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I made a Wearable Muslin of this jacket from a white jacquard linen table cloth before making the final version in the chocolate brown eyelet. So I don't need another one of these jackets because of its trendiness. I am more a classic kinda girl. However, I would definitely recommend this pattern to others. The jacket has a lot of punch with a minimum amount of effort.


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