Sunday, July 29, 2007

Vogue 9220 - The Substitution

As stated in a previous post, I have decided to remove the St. John's dress from my end of summer sewing list. At first I was going to use my TNT dress pattern and transform it into one more outfit ~ the yellow blouse pictured in the substitution post was to be the jump off ~ however I really am sick of working with my TNT dress pattern so I am moving on.

Yesterday while digging through my considerable pattern stash (which is contained in 10 legal bankers boxes that reside in the back of my DD's closet) I found this Out-Of-Print (OOP) pattern - Vogue 9220.

The pattern envelope describes the dress as: fitted and slightly flared, lined, above mid-knee, has princess seams and back zipper with short sleeves. The pattern is copyright 1995. I really like the accompanying jacket but since I am using the black & red polka dot linen that I used as the centerband of the Chloe knock-off dress (I mean it was out of the fabric closet ~ what was the point of putting it back in?) I am concerned that the jacket and dress combination would make me look like a big ole fat polka dot. So the jacket is not being made this time. However, this jacket will get made some time in the future.

I need to say something here about using some of the older, OOP Vogue patterns in my stash. Every time I have used one of these older patterns I have had to make less alterations in my size to get the best fit. Fewer alterations to the shoulder seams and throughout the body of the pattern. I don't know why but the patterns from the last decade seem to be drafted with more ease than their latest offerings.

For the accompanying piece to this dress, I will probably make a lightweight black sweatery type jacket. I believe that this type of jacket will serve me better when moving from very cold public transportation to a very cold office space. The only time I seem to have any issues with heat are when I am taking the subway around the city...and even then it is only journeying through the station and standing on the platform waiting for the subway. Some of those trains are just as cold as the bus!

Yesterday and today I worked on the pattern alterations. I added an inch in length to the dress and 1/2" to an inch on some of the side seams from the waist down. I also lengthened and added length and width to the short sleeves.

The shell of the dress is basted together for a quick fitting and I will need to take out some of the width that I added to the center front piece. Other than that I just need to make some decisions about trim, lining and the sleeve treatment to finish up this dress. As always I will keep you updated on my progress...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Jumper Patterns on Women of a Certain Age

Yes, I "borrowed" the title from a folder at Patternreview. Last week my good fiber friend, Marji, directed me to this folder at PR. Now as you know I am not a huge PR fan, even though Marji and Karla both have encouraged me to give it another try...and I am...but I digress because this was actually an interesting discussion.

I think this conversation definitely highlights a time in a woman's life when she has to really decide who is she is and what image she wants to portray to the world or whether she even cares about putting something out there...gone are the days of our youth when we can experiment with any style trying to figure out what we wanted to say about ourselves that day! Because age and life has a funny way of changing your body, so that even though you have grown in wisdom and knowledge, your body has grown in other to speak! *smile*

However, this post is not about "Our Bodies, Our Selves" but about the fact that I came squarely down on the side of yes, you can wear jumpers at a certain age...But and there is a big but here, I think they should be as fashionable as the designers meant for them to be. I don't think denim jumpers with appliques are the looks that the designers are bringing back. I don't think shapeless sacks in navy watchplaid is dialing up the latest fashion looks...The jumpers being shown now have a sleekness and feminity to them harking back to the looks of the 50's.

Now why am I posting about this...because I had to find room in my "sewing books" bookshelves for the Chanel book that I purchased at the Met two weeks ago. And in moving some things around, I discovered a magazine holder that contained several older versions of Burda World of Fashion circa 1993-1995! I didn't even realize that I had BWOF going back that far. I knew that I had occasionally picked one up at the newsstand in NYC but I didn't realize that I had held onto them this long.

This is what I found in several of them:

BWOF - Sept 1995

BWOF October 1995

And this is what is inspiring me in jumpers now:

Simplicity 3673 - I really like the jumper with the flare skirt. And the interesting detail of this jumper is how there are pleats to give definition to the waistline. I won't belt it but anything that makes my waist look slimmer is a good thing!

McCalls 5464 - now y'all know that I am boycotting McCalls 'cause this pattern only comes up to a size 20. However, I really like this look! And I can really see this pattern in some faux leather - or maybe even real leather since Fabric Mart is selling skins!

And this is what I made earlier this year:

Finally patterns found in my quite large pattern stash!

Vogue 1200 - OOP - the sleeveless duster becomes a jumper with the shirt from the pattern worn underneath it.

McCalls 6670 - OOP - see I haven't always had beef with McCalls! I have quite a few McCalls patterns in my stash!

McCalls 6782 - OOP - This is from the "Sew News Collection" of patterns and wouldn't this look great in a wool doubleknit or a heavier weight rayon/lycra knit. Y'all know that this is going into my fall sewing rotation, right?! *LOL*

Since I am a woman of a certain age ~ I definitely declare this look wearable! Now what about you will you make a jumper for the fall season? Or do you think it is just not for a woman over a certain age????

P.S. ~ I am not at my friend, Lisa's, house this weekend due to some personal issues with my children.

P.P.S. ~ I have an amazing collection of patterns stashed away in binders. I have pulled a few to look at, maybe even to incorporate into my fall wardrobe. And does anyone remember when Vogue did a series of patterns called, "Very Easy, Very Vogue career"? I found quite a few of them in my pattern stash...Guess what I am going to be using this fall...some of these wonderful, classic looks! Finally, I must own every Tamotsu pattern Vogue published in the late '80s/early 90s. *LOL*

I am off to sew! Enjoy your sewing journeys, today and every day!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Whole Lot of Nothing

As the title says, I have a whole lotta nothing going on sewing wise! All of my daughters are home and I haven't had much computer time besides the fact that there is just a lot of noise in my house right now. Put three young adults together with a TV and the internet and baby do you have noise! I am trying to enjoy this time because my oldest daughter is staying with me since her job is transferring her to Charlotte and her lease is up on her apartment. She will leave me soon and I know that I won't see her as much anymore...not that I was seeing her alot anyway! *LOL*

This is a rare time in my life, because even though I am not sewing, I am also not buying fabric or anything sewing related... And it's not because I haven't visited the internet fabric sites...nothing is catching my fancy or I already have something like it or a lot like it in the collection. I am just experiencing a total sewing black-out! *ohmygosh*

I do have this weekend planned to sew at my friend Lisa's but I have been dragging my feet about packing. I can't decide what to take to work on even though I still have 8 items of summer sewing to complete. I also just found out that I need to change my vacation, one more time, because of meetings at work!!! So since my vacation is falling further back into September, I think I am going to take 7 days (not including weekends) because the vacation policy is if you don't use your vacation days by the end of the year, you lose them. I will probably end up with 11 days for a personal sewing vacation and to start sewing fall/winter. That will be a good thing, as Martha says!

Sooooo, I am just checking in and letting you know that I am still around. My sewing machines are taking a well deserved rest and my fabric collection is not getting any larger! It's just a sewing black-out! *LOL*

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Look Back

Well its Sunday afternoon and another weekend has passed without me sewing a single stitch. Its not that I don't have the desire or ideas, I just haven't felt like sewing. I know this will pass because I have been here before so I am just going with the flow. And when the sewing desire returns I will be ready.

I was talking to my friend Lisa because we have planned a sewing weekend for next weekend. We haven't done this in some time, probably because we both have really busy work lives now, but after fabric shopping last weekend Lisa really wanted to sew up some of the beautiful linen pieces she purchased instead of just stashing them. So during our conversation, Lisa asked me about a couple of pieces that I made at least 10 years ago. Probably because I was complaining about not having anything to write about here and she said that I should share these pieces.

Now this was back in the late 90's that I made these pieces. First, this ribbon jacket:

It has almost $200 worth of ribbons in it purchased with birthday money from my boss at the time. This jacket was made during my "art-to-wear work clothing" phase. The ribbons were purchased from Hy Hendlers. It took several attempts, to place the ribbons in an arrangement that I liked. Then sewing them down to a piece of black cotton batiste before constructing the jacket. I wore this jacket with all black pieces underneath it. I worked in the garment district at the time, for a button company, and this was a great piece to wear to work. The closures on the jacket were fur hooks and eyes so that the jacket fronts met but the closures were invisible. The jacket was lined and a design was added to the back of the jacket - coming and going art-to-wear.

The second piece was made from Nancy Zieman's book, Sew Easy Embellishments

It was a Fusible Patchwork vest (found on page 64 ~ if you own the book!) I used a black and white theme, black wool crepe and a black and white plaid wool for just the vest fronts. I also remember making yards and yards of black binding for this project and the vest is lined. It took several weekends to complete the vest because I was still married, my girls were younger and we had so many more weekend activities. This vest was worn with a pair of lined black wool crepe pants and a white shirt or a black turtleneck and the black pants. I made several art-to-wear type vests during this period. This is the only one I hung onto because of the amount of time I spent constructing it.

I am sure that I spend just as much time now on making suit pieces as I did on these two pieces. However this is a walk down memory lane looking back at one of my sewing phases. And thanks Lisa for reminding me that I still had these two pieces in my closet!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

My Favorite New York Haunts

I have been asked several times (okay more than that!) about my favorite spots in the garment district. So I finally decided to do a post about them. Now I use to have many more spots but everything seems to be changing and so many shops have just closed down their doors and gone away....

So here is the listing in no particular order of where I like to shop in the NYC garment district:

Metro Textiles
265 West 37th Street
Suite 908
New York, NY
Phone: 212.209.0004

With Kashi and friends at Metro Textiles

You have seen the goods. You have heard me rave. If you are in NYC, visit! Enough said!

Ebad Fabrics
550 8th Avenue
New York, NY 10018
Phone: 212.869.7826

Nabil - the proprietor has the best prices on linen and he always seems to have an amazing assortment of them! If you get a chance to visit his shop, tell him that Carolyn sent you and he will give you a great deal! This is where I purchased the black herringbone linen and I have been buying from him for over 8 years. He is my go to resource for basics. I can find it here, take it home and make it up!

Paron Fabrics
206 West 40th Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212.247.6451

I am so sorry that they closed the Annex. It was a brightly lit treasure trove and even though they have incorporated the two stores into one and the Annex was looking better the last time I was there, I still miss the original. I have been shopping at Paron's since they had their stores on 57th Street. Great pieces of exquisite fabric can be found here for amazing prices. A definite must see when visiting NYC.

Steinlauf & Stoller
239 West 39th Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212.860.0321

This is where I pick up notions...zippers, rayon hem tape, ironing supplies, shoulder pads, plastic crystal hangers. You name it, they've got it. The only thing is that they are only open Monday - Friday until 5:30 pm. No weekends, at all!

Daytona Trimmings
251 West 39th Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212.354.1713

I love this trim store! This is my go-to store for trimmings. I have been shopping here so long that the clerks know small feat since just about everyone comes through here. And of course, Project Runway made them famous but they are still, kind and helpful with not only every kind of fashion & home dec trim but they also carry yarns and pillow forms. If you need it to finish off your garment, they have it!

Tinsel Trading
47 West 38th Street
New York, NY
Phone: 212.730.1030

Need a real vintage trim? This is the spot! Don't want to be bothered with a crowd but want good knowledge customer service? This is the spot! When I am looking for something unique and different, I head over to Tinsel. It is a must see spot if you are in NYC and right around the corner from M&J.

M&J Trimmings
1008 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
Phone: 212.391.9072

Shopping at M&J with friends

It's M&J what else is there to say!? Racks and racks of trims, buttons and appliques...braids for can be an overwhelming presence. But go, take a deep breathe and plunge in. But be prepared for an amazing sensory experience!

These are a few of my favorite NYC Garment District haunts. But I have to be frank, I purchase way more fabric on the internet than I do at any of these stores. It is just too convenient to purchase fabric in the middle of the night in my pjs without having to leave home. However, when I am having a bad day at work and need to touch some fabric, the district is just one train stop away from my job and less than 15 minutes to nirvana!

So if you are in the NYC area ~ what are your favorite NYC haunts? And if you are planning on coming to the fabric district any time soon, please feel free to visit my favs but also don't be afraid to go into some of the smaller shops. You just never know what you will find there!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Substitution and Looking Towards Fall

Seven more weekends and eight more projects...I don't know how I am going to work it out but I guess I will! *smile* On that note, I am changing one of my projects...see even though I didn't get the chance to sew last weekend, it doesn't mean that I didn't think about sewing. And after going over the construction for the St. John's dress in my mind, it is not what I really want right now. Let me explain...these are the construction details that drew me to the dress:

~ the square neckline
~ the elaborate embellishment
~ the shaping of the dress

After much consideration, I realize I can easily achieve the square neckline from my TNT pattern but my embellishment is not elaborate enough. And I am just not in the frame of mind to play with it. Also since the St. John's dress is made from a knit, my linen is not going to give the same shaping to the dress. So instead of having a nice dress with a nod to the St. John's dress, I am going to shelve the idea and move onto something different.

I saw this picture in People's August 2007 Style Watch magazine. Let's just say that the wheels are turning and ideas are forming...okay, I pretty much constructed "the new piece" on the bus on the way home. All I have to do now is get it out of my head and into a stay tuned.

After seeing the exhibit Saturday and perusing my newly purchased fashion books, my mind is finally turning towards fall. I have to admit that I have been resisting this mindset because I have these last eight outfits that I really want to make and I don't want to be waylaid. Plus, you know that you can't really wear fall clothes here in the Central Northeast states until the end of October/beginning of November...and sometimes later than that! My last few summer outfits can get plenty of wear if I concentrate and get them made.

However, the Costume Institute book is just causing my mind to do flips! For some time now, I have thought that I would add a little retro to my fall suits. You know how I have been complaining about dialing up the same ole suit looks that my fellow employees are wearing, and retro jackets would definitely be a different look, but still corporate! It also doesn't hurt that the new Vogue Patterns fall line was recently uploaded to their website and the new Vogue Patterns Magazine mailed out causing much discussion on the sewing boards about the patterns and the new looks.

Then late Saturday night I was trolling's site and found this:

Stretch Suiting Houndstooth Stripe Black & White
Our Price: $4.35 per yard; 60 inches wide
Contents: 96% polyester/4% lycra

I fell in love. It looks so much like the fabric in one of the Chanel outfits photographed in the Costume Institute book that I just bought it. Well it arrived today and all I can say is that it is so much better in person than on the website! It will make an amazing dress and jacket! I just can't decide whether or not to use one side as the jacket and the reverse side as the dress ala Chanel or make both pieces in the same color. But it will definitely be a part of my fall sewing.

I have other ideas for suits from the Jackie Kennedy exhibit and the Met's book, "Jacqueline Kennedy: The White House Years" and "The New Look the Dior Revolution" by Nigel Cawthorne. I will hark back to the recent past to come up with new and different suit ideas for my wardrobe.

Vogue patterns has also provided some inspiration with these new patterns:

Vogue 8414:
MISSES’ JACKET AND DRESS: Above waist, front button jacket has standing collar, raglan sleeves and pleated back. Dress has front and back yoke, cap sleeve, front gathers, back zipper, back slit and optional purchased belt.

Vogue 8431:
MISSES’ JACKET: Lined jacket A, B, C have front darts, back darts, back pleats with underlay and sleeve. A: contrast facing. A, B: side seam pockets. C: lined patch pockets.

Vogue 8436:
MISSES’/MISSES’ PETITE JACKET, SASH, SKIRT AND PANTS: Lined jackets A and B have raglan sleeves gathered into cuffs and snap closures. A: hip length with button detail. B: below hip length with a standup collar and optional sash. Straight skirt C and tapered pants D have grosgrain waist finish and back zipper closure.

So this is the beginnings of where my mind is wandering to for fall...but I've just gotta finish up those last things on my summer sewing list first!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

An Afternoon in NYC

I work in NYC so I don't like to spend too many weekends there. However, since NYC is a cultural mecca and I can't do everything after work (especially when I work so many long hours!) sometimes I have to break down and venture into the city on the weekends. My friend, Lisa and I ventured in together today. Lisa works as many hours as I do so I usually have to schedule events weeks and sometimes months in advance with her! This is one of those things that we scheduled back at the beginning of May.

We specifically went in to see the Poiret: King of Fashion exhibit at The Metropolitian Museum of Art. I wanted to see this exhibit because I love Coco Chanel's work and she was heavily influenced by Poiret. He was the first designer to design "corsetless" womenswear. Most of his designs are deconstructed and simply draped to create effortless dressing for women in the early 1900s.

There was this quote on one of the first walls when you enter the exhibit and in the book that you can purchase that accompanies the exhibit, "Am I a fool when I dream of putting art into my dresses, a fool when I say dressmaking is an art?...For I have always loved painters, and felt on an equal footing with them. It seems to me that we practice the same craft..." This really spoke to me. Because I truly believe that we dressmakers are artists and to realize that one of the architects of modern dress for women also felt that way, validates my viewpoint.

The exhibit is small but has some interesting features. There are two videos that show how he created a coat and a dress and then after the video finishes the actual garment is revealed. Lisa was mesmerized by these videos and watched them several times through because the construction was very simple but the end results are beautiful due to the colors he used, the fabrics and how the fabrics draped.

Many of the garments in the exhibit could be worn now. The empire waists that have been shown this season, the looser fitted dress and the detailing at the neckline are all prominently portrayed in Poiret's work. And at the end of the exhibit the last few dresses shown definitely are a precursor to Chanel's work.

Here are a couple of outfits that I liked from the exhibit:

And the detailing on this dress was really stunning:

If you have the chance to come into the city before August 5th, when the exhibit ends, it is an interesting exhibit. It is not as powerful as the Ralph Rucci exhibit was but it is an engaging exhibit and if you love Chanel it highlights what influenced her.

Of course a day in NYC is not complete without a trip to the garment district because like me, Lisa sews. She doesn't sew as much as I do and lately handbags and totes have been her sewing of choice. BTW, she was carrying an amazing tote that she had made with leather handles and the kewlest pockets both inside and outside the tote and she has promised to make a duplicate for me!

Lisa was looking for linen and she is as much a fan of Ebads Fabrics as I am ~ well I guess so since we've been shopping there for over 7 years! *smile* So we head downtown in a cab from the Met and end up hopping out at 37th & Broadway - traffic was a b*t&h! We stopped briefly at Spandex World where Lisa picked up three yards of a blue/brown paisley stretch. And then again at Pacific Trimming on West 38th Street where Lisa bought upholstery zippers. She also sews home dec.

But the real damage was done at Ebads. Lisa wasn't kidding when she said she wanted some linen ~ 25 yards later and another 15 yards of coordinating eyelet plus a length of silk charmeuse and lining fabric...the girl had bags that were almost too heavy to cart back to Grand Central Station! *LOL*

I, however, only purchased two pieces of fabric

an ivory eyelet and a brown silk charmeuse

along with a whole lotta lining fabric.

Then we stopped at Daytona Trimmings...I have an idea for the ivory eyelet...and I bought some trimmings and another roll of black rayon seam binding. By now Lisa was more than ready to head back to GCS - linen is heavy to carry - so she caught a cab at the Port Authority and I headed inside for the bus ride home.

I just want to leave you with a pic of the books I picked up at the museum. The Poiret book from the exhibit, Chanel - The Metropolitian Museum of Art (the book that accompanied that exhibit) and Fashion from the 18th to the 20th Century - The Kyoto Costume Institute.

As MasterCard would say, the afternoon was "priceless!"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Linen is One of My Favorite Fabrics

There are some fabrics I will always buy. Even if they aren't on sale! They are staples in my fabric closet and in my wardrobe. Linen is one of these and it is my favorite summer fabric to sew and wear. I know a lot of people like cotton but I love linen. It is cool to wear. It comes in amazing colors and prints. It's easy to sew. It's cool to wear....*LOL*

In my previous work place, I used linen a lot for skirts and dresses but I always washed it first. Now, why did I wash it??? To reduce the wrinkling factor and to give it a smoother hand and the ability to drape better. My usual method is to wash the linen 3x in the hottest water and then dry it 3x on the hottest setting. Once it has gone through this process, I then put it on my ironing board, get out a spritz bottle full of water, fill my iron up and set it on its hottest setting. I then spritz the linen and press the mess out of it. Finally cut and sew. Now when I do the washed linen thing, there is an entire day of prep work involved and I usually do several pieces of fabric at one time.

This very labor intensive prep work pays off. Garments made after being subjected to this process still wrinkle but the wrinkles are not as deep and fall out easily. The linen also loses any finishing agents that have been added to it and will also lose some color and sheen. The garments that are made using this process are usually very relaxed, non-tailored gear. And the process allows the items to be wash and wear.

However, I now work in a more tailored environment. The wash and wear linen look just ain't cutting it unless it's a Friday. And most of the garments I make now are dry clean only. After putting linings and alot of internal structure into a piece, I don't want to lose that work in the wash. So this long behind explanation brings us to why I don't want to wash the last linen dress I made or the new one I'm about to make.

If I had realized that the linen used for the bottom of the dress would hold the wrinkles as tightly as it did, I definitely would have added the silk organza to the bottom of the dress during the construction phase. I had time and I wasn't trying to be lazy or rush the project. I just didn't think it was necessary. Well, I now know better!

I would like to thank everyone for their thoughtful suggestions on what to do with the linen for the next dress. I have to admit that Summerset's suggestion about using the cotton batiste as a separate liner is a very intriguing thought and one that I am giving careful consideration to. I would also like to thank everyone for confirming for me that the three layers won't be too hot. For someone who is starting to have her own "personal summers," heat awareness is key!

I haven't quite decided what to do next and I might even skip this dress for now and work on the pantsuit. I am getting a little bored with my TNT dress pattern and think I want to explore some new patterns. Since I have several on my list, I think I am ready for the challenge. So stay tuned...'cause I really have no idea about what's coming out of my sewing area next.

For all those linen afficiendos out there, Fashions Fabric Club is having an amazing end of the summer sale on should surf on by and check it out here.

Cidell & Vicki ~ I hope I answered your questions...and thanks again everyone for your comments, suggestions and thoughts!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

My Dilemma

Long days at work and even longer meetings, so what am I doing when I am suppose to be paying attention...trying to figure out how to make a dress work! *LOL* Yeap, I am sewing the steps for the St. John's knock-off dress in my head, which is next on my list.

But here is the beginning of my dilemma...The bottom half of the red/black linen dress wrinkled badly.

This is what the dress looked like when I took it off...front and lower back views. The bottom wrinkled a lot worse than the top. Now I like linen and normally don't mind the wrinkles but I usually use "washed linen" which helps to minimize the wrinkling.

But the real problem is that I want to make the St. John's dress using this black linen fabric. Now I know that adding a layer of silk organza will cut down on the really deep wrinkles. So here is what I'm thinking, I would underline the thin linen with silk organza and then add a fine black cotton batiste lining. Now do you think this would make the dress to hot to wear?

And that is my dilemma...I just can't decide if I should have all three layers or just the silk organza? And no, I don't want to wash the linen first...thoughts, comments, suggestions?!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

“My version” of the Chloe Dress

I have actually been doing a little sewing! I know, I know with all the ranting that's been going on hard to believe right?!

First let me say that this is my "interpretation" of the Chloe dress. There are certain style elements in the original dress that I admired and wanted to incorporate into my version...but the original is sleeveless...and as much as I love my body, I love it best with some sleeves covering my fantabolious flabby biceps! *LOL*

So the things I admire:
~the different colored/fabric in the waistline section
~the flare skirt
~the three different colors and how they were incorporated into the dress.

However, due to my wardrobing needs, I needed to take those points and "corporatize" them. So here is my version of the Chloe dress:

1/2 yard of red linen from FM of course!

1/2 yard of red/black polka dot linen (this has been in the fabric collection for forever - the tag said 4 yards of linen from Cloth World ~ they have been out of business for a minute!)

1/2 yard of black linen - recent purchase from Metro Textiles. The rest will be used for the St. John's knock-off dress which is up next.

Construction Details:
I used the pieces that I drafted for my version of the Chanel dress. So this was a lay down, cut out and sew adventure. The kind that I like best! *smile*

The two fabrics that I chose for the top and middle section seem to be the same shade of red but there is a slight difference between the red for the top and the red in the middle section...not enough to make you go uggghhhh, what was she thinking, but enough so that the original concept of the dress is preserved.

I added a lining to just the bottom portion of the skirt ~ below the waistband. I don't really like an all lined dress during the steamy days of summer and the linen on the bottom of the skirt is a lot more lightweight than I originally thought it was. So a lining was needed for opacity.

I also added bias binding to the neckline of the dress. The dress originally had a front and back facing but I haven't used them in some time since almost every other version I've made of this dress has had a full lining added to it. And I could only locate the back facing in the pattern folder. It would have been easy enough to draft a front facing but bias binding is so much cleaner so I opted to go with that method instead.

There are also some issues with my invisible zipper. I was trying to follow Els invisible zipper directions in her post on The Sewing Divas and I must have missed a step somewhere. I think in my quest to make sure that the different sections lined up in the back perfectly that I concentrated more on lining them up than following the directions. I will try them again on a solid colored dress or skirt because I really want to become proficient using her directions.

Other than that this was a pretty straightforward dress to make. In my opinion what makes it interesting is the different colored waistband. It will be perfect for the 100 plus degree day we are anticipating in NYC tomorrow. It will also work well for the all day meeting at work tomorrow. But most importantly, I won't be decked out all in black, I will be wearing a little color!

So, the first dress on the list is completed. One outfit down and eight more to go!

More on pattern companies…

I feel a need to address a few of the comments generated by my "Big Girls and Pattern Companies" rant...

1. First, thank you everyone for your comments. Now if we could get someone at the pattern companies to read them, it would be great!

2. I have noticed that approximately 10% of my weekly readers comment on a "hot" topic. So quite a few people from all over the world read my blog every week ~ telling numbers to any pattern company since my blog is only about sewing.

3. It is a wonderful suggestion about starting my own pattern line but to be absolutely truthful, it is something I am just not interested in doing. If I won the lottery right now, however, I would open a bricks 'n mortar fabric store. I would spend a lot of my time trying to interest the younger generation in sewing. By mixing a little of the sewing lounge practices with some great fabrics at all price points, adding a great sewing library (as a reference site and for purchase) and instruction on all levels with guest lectures by some of the great sewing instructors both on the internet as well as nationally known. Now that's my sewing dream!

4. I did edit my post so that you could reach Meg Carter, who handles all consumer complaints and inquires for the McCalls Company. I personally believe that if she receives an influx of complaints and inquiries about their line that it will get noticed. That is one of her job responsibilities after all. Whereas complaints sent to the President of the company will be picked and chosen by a gatekeeper. I think Meg has to give a greater accounting of correspondence that comes in. If I am wrong, please correct me and provide the proper information in the comments section or to me at my personal email and I will post it to my blog proper!

5. I am including a picture of my bookcase. The one that houses all of my sewing reference library ~ not including magazines, that's another bookcase. I once worked for a person who posed this question to me. "If you like to sew so much, how can you not own books that will increase your knowledge about something that gives you so much pleasure?" I have never forgotten that and I have since collected sewing books both old and new. I am missing a few, just haven't wrapped my head around plunking down $90 or more for the Helen Armstrong patternmaking book. And there are a few others that I am still searching for but I have a pretty extensive library. And now I am posing the question back to you...

Finally, I have a favor to ask. If you have read this series of posts and believe as I do that this grouping of patterns don't meet your needs or even if you are just in agreement with me, can you write to McCalls at or call 800-782-0323 in the US. I truly believe that if we all raise our voices and complain to one central location, we may see change. Also, any bloggers out there who are as "annoyed" as I am, would you write a post about this or at least a note pointing them in my direction. As Joanna said, the internet has power and maybe we can influence McCalls pattern company to take another look. Otherwise, I am going to spend the rest of my time promoting Simplicity patterns into the ground! *LOL* At least their patterns meet my needs!

One last comment...I am a grandmother and almost 50 years old and I would walk the streets naked before I would make and wear one of the Connie Crawford patterns...they just aren't me! And McCalls has a long way to go before they are!

Next up, I promise, my interpretation of the Chloe dress! I have been working on it!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Mo’Nique School of Thinking…

Marji left this comment this morning:

I agree totally about the CC line being dowdy. I've met Connie when she's come to St Louis to have her teaching seminars and she *can* be an overwhelming presence, but she's passionate about what she does.It seems to me that the CC line, along with a lot of the indie's (which is why I really don't like most of the Indies) that design for plus size think that large squares of fabric put together like Omar would constitutes Stylish fashions for the plus segment of the population. It's a design aesthetic that needs to change. I think the root of the problem lies in the concept of what Plus Size sewists Want in fashion. Meanwhile, I'll add that when one company produces the same product under different brands, they aren't trying for your $ under each brand, they're trying to capture your market segment in one of the brands, while maybe offering just a smidge in the crossover brands. At issue here is that you (and a host of other sewists) have the design aesthetic of One Brand while they're offering your particular product under another. I'd write again.In fact, I'll write too. Can you email me the contact information that you received in your letter back? Thanks

I was going to write a response in the "Comments Section" but decided that everyone doesn't read comments so here goes:

I will fully admit that I am a fashionista in a plus size body. I will also admit that I am willing to try different things because I am not ashamed of my body - ain't on a diet, ain't trying to lose weight through exercise, etc. I like who I am and how I look...I definitely subscribe to the Mo'Nique school of thinking. That said it does make my attitude a little different from most plus size women and even though I am not trying to emphasize the "slight" rolls of fat that have accumulated over the years, I am not ashamed of them either!

So I want to dress my body in the latest styles and not muu-muu tents! Everyone can't be a size 2. God, wouldn't the world be boring if we all were! And also everyone doesn't think fashion is important. Some people do actually clothe themselves so that they don't frighten the world when they appear outside or they don't want to break the law! But I like fashion! I like nice accessories. I spend a considerable amount of time making these outfits, looking for nice fabrics and patterns ~ I enjoy this! So then why am I being ignored by the home sewing industry? Why am I told to go and attempt to get a designer gear outfit from this:

When I was looking at and the Parisian fashion shows last night, saw that on every runway! NOT! And you can't tell me that the CAD designing programs that they use to grade patterns can't be set up to grade past a size 18 or 20!!!! The home sewing industry is telling me that I don't count to them! At least that's my take on it. I may be a FAT girl but I am one wonderously made, fabulous and beautiful one.

Why can't I make a slim jumper from a great piece of faux leather, leather or suede for fall? Why can't I make a strapless jumper to wear over a great white shirt? Hey, I already own the white shirt! But most importantly, why can't the home sewing industry realize that to attract younger sewers they need to also concentrate on the heavy set young women who will try to emulate their skinny sisters and believe they can do so through making it at home? Well McCall's just ain't helping them out!

Yeah, I am full out ranting this morning because I just don't get it! Women were made to have curves and breasts and hips - not to look like boards! Those poor women in the fashion shows look like they need to come to my house and have several good home cooked meals! Why do we stand for this?! Why do we allow ourselves to be tricked into thinking that if we don't look a certain way we aren't good enough!? My response ~ if God wanted me to look that way he wouldn't made me this way! And he wouldn't made such great food or Spanx or the ability to grade a pattern up past a size 18!!!!!

Maybe the answer is to continue to use my TNT patterns and redesign them to make what I want! And send my precious sewing dollars to the fabric stores and online fabric shops...'cause I don't see EOS or Fabric Mart or FashionFabricsClub or Nancy's Notions telling me they don't want my money!

Rant over ~ I am off to sew...using one of those TNT patterns to get me some designer gear!
Edited to add:
McCall's Pattern/Sewing Technical Questions
or call (800) 782-0323
Monday through Friday8:45 AM to 4:45 PM Eastern Time

Friday, July 06, 2007

Here We Go Again – Part 2

I just wanted to share with you the letter I received from McCalls Patterns. They were actually very prompt in replying to me even though the letter was kinda...well, read it for yourself:

Dear Carolyn,

Thank you for your email concerning McCall Patterns. Whenever possible, we try to provide our home sewers with the information they desire. We appreciate you taking the time to send us your comments about our patterns. It's so important for us to know how you feel about our product, and what we can do to make it better. Be assured, your thoughts and opinions have been forwarded to the proper department for review. You may want to visit our Butterick site to view the new edition of Connie Crawford Patterns, designed for plus size figures. Currently the selection is small as the patterns have only been in our catalog for 2 issues, but we do intend to add more designs with future isses.

Meg Carter
Consumer Services

So there you have it folks...I have been sent over to another division of their pattern company to hunt for fashionable patterns. I know that a lot of people like the new Connie Crawford patterns but I personally find them a little dowdy and am waiting to see what else is offered before I indulge. And yes, Marji, I know that Butterick, Vogue & McCalls are all one company...but since they attempt to do business as three separate entities, you think they would want to get my dollars in all three places...guess not.

The letter and the promptness of it did very little to change my I remain McCalls patternless in NJ!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Nine more weekends

Okay I need your help! There are nine more weekends until September ~ and that's including the weekend of September 1st. I have nine more outfits to sew for summer from my list. Yes, that's right! I have waded through all of my fabrics and patterns and come up with a list of nine outfits that I want to make to finish off my summer sewing. So this is where I need your help!?

I am going to list my nine projects on my blog. Now when I go off on one of my flights of fancy ~ dreaming up new things to make ~ I want you to gently remind me to stick to my plan. Usually, I make a sewing list and generally I stick to it. Sometimes I will substitute a project but I never veer as far from it as I have this summer.

I started free-styling during my summer vaca so that I wouldn't stifle my creativity...and I have just kept on free-styling. Granted, I have come up with a couple of amazing pieces but now I just want to settle down and sew my list!

So here is the list:

1. "Chloe" knock-off dress from TNT dress pattern
Fabric: red linen; red linen with black polka dots; black linen

2. Brown & Pink Pinstriped Pantsuit
Pattern: Vogue 8209 for the jacket; TNT pants pattern

3. Shirtwaist Dress from Vogue 2939
Fabric: black/white tropical wool

4. St. John knock-off dress in black from TNT dress pattern
Fabric: Black medium weight linen

5. Faux wrap dress from Simplicity 4074
Fabric: beige/brown print rayon knit

6. T-shirt and 6 gore skirt outfit from Simplicity 4076 (View C) for the top & 6 gore skirt from Simplicity 4074
Fabric: red & white floral knit

7. Eyelet "Duro Style" Dress from Butterick 5031
Fabric: Printed floral eyelet with brown eyelet for accents

8. Threads Dress - Simplicity 3744
Fabric: TBD

9. Sleeveless Shirt Dress with collar - Tamotsu TNT Dress - Vogue 2090 with a matching jacket from OOP Vogue 2285
Fabric: Brown linen

The fabrics...

I have also added this list to my blog sidebar and hopefully I will spend the next nine weekends completing it. I go on vacation again Labor Day weekend and on that sewing vaca I am turning my attention to fall sewing. These last few outfits will carry me through the rest of the summer and into early fall.

So are you with me? Will you help me stay on track? I hope so 'cause I really would like to finish off my list and have some great garments in the process. BTW, did you notice there is not a single McCalls pattern on the list! *Oh well!*

Thanks in's appreciated!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Here we go again...

Okay, I should have taken all of the advice and written to the pattern company the last time I complained on my blog because here we go again!

This time when I got the message that the new McCall's patterns were up on their website, it was with trepidation that I flipped into their site. Now I want to say two things up front...what is up with making little girls look trampy? Am I showing my age? Because the first two patterns in the "What's New" section aimed at tween girls makes them look a little streetwalkerish to me! Talk about age-appropriate!!!! And the next thing I noticed was that they had some really kewl and funky designs....*sigh* Finally!!!!

But what the???? The sizes only go up to an 18?!!!! Ummmm, have they missed the reports that most Americans are fatter now! And since pattern sizing is definitely smaller than RTW sizing who is this fitting???? I know they are trying to get the younger crowd to sew. Okay, I can flow with that but what happened to the older sewer who has a little more disposable income and who will say ummmm purchase a pattern at regular prices?

Anyway, let me show you what I liked:

First choice McCalls 5466 ~ hands down! Loves this dress! Love the tucks at the neckline. Love the black/white/grey plaid it's shown in! Carries the dress trend into fall in a lovely way...hate the fact that it stops at a size 18!

Second choice McCalls 5464 - a good all around jumper! Nice detailing and variations...interesting ways to wear it and a great wardrobe builder! And again only up to a size 18...What fat girls can't wear a jumper??! Give me a break! Thank God I have a pattern stash...I will rummage through the boxes until I find something similar but c'mon really. Can you believe this pattern only goes up to a size 18!!!!!

And this dress - McCalls 5467! Ohmygosh! I could really rock this with a jacket! Talk about not dialing up the same old dress/jacket combo that everyone else at work is wearing...I would be in whole 'nother league...but wait, repeat after me, it only goes up to a size 18! I know, they are worried that I would sue them because the pleats wouldn't fit over my not quite flat abdomen (okay I know its protruding but Spanx does help it look better!) However, they are neglecting the fact that I have skills. I CAN SEW!!!! I know that if I simply sew those pleats down a little that I could rock that dress! But fat girls obviously don't look good in that style...I guess, well at least according to McCalls. *sigh*

So what does McCalls think I, as a fat girl, should wear - McCalls 5484 a twist tie front dress that Burda WOF magazine has done several times and soooooo much better! McCalls 5485 let's just wrap me up in fabric and hope that I don't look like a badly wrapped Christmas present! Yeah, like someone is going to want to take the time to unwrap all that fabric to get to the present! And these gauchos that have been so overdone in McCalls 5452. Ummm there are links here because I just refuse to show this "stuff" on my blog! So once again McCall's has called me out! Telling me that I am unworthy of truly fashionable garb! See this post. Guess I shoulda listened and wrote them. Guess I will break down and do it this time!

Because I am beginning to think that McCalls thinks it takes up too much paper to grade some simple dress sizes up to a size 22, 24, 26! I mean that can be the only explanation for blatantly ignoring an entire size group! Guess I am heading over to Simplicity and buying patterns from them! At least they don't keep the fashion to just the skinny girls!

I'm out and soooooo disgusted!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

The First of Two Summer Skirts

When I was in my 20's, I primarily sewed skirts. I could make 2 or 3 on a Saturday afternoon. Add a great blouse, which I could tuck in at the time, and I had 3 new outfits for the work week! Of course, I was a perfect size 12 straight out of the pattern envelope then, and I don't remember lining anything either!

I love sewing skirts! I love that you can get a great punch of color or an interesting print in such a fashionable piece. I also love the fact that a skirt can be any length and how it makes me feel feminine and flirty. But the best thing about a skirt is how cool it is on a hot summer's day! I would rather wear a skirt than wear a pair of jeans any day ~ does that date me?! *LOL*

Here is skirt one:

Right side out and inside out
100% rayon print from Emmaonesock

2 yards of lime green lining
burgundy lingerie elastic
3 yards of white 1.5" lace for the lining hem

OOP McCalls pattern 2795 copyright 2000.
Pattern Description: Misses'/Miss Petite Shirt-Jacket, Top, Pull-on Pants and Bias Skirt, Easy fitting skirt-jacket or top has loop and button closure and side slits; sleeveless top has bust darts, pull-on pants and bias skirt have elastic waist; pants have side seam pockets.

This is the original description of the pattern. I have primarily used the skirt pattern. And I have altered the pattern into several different versions - shorter bias skirt, 4 gore bias skirt, and a longer 4-gore straight grain skirt. I used the last version for this skirt.

None ~ since this is a TNT pattern. I basically lay it down, cut it out and sew it.

However, this is the first time that I made this skirt using lingerie elastic at the waistline. So it was a different experience. I measured the length for the elastic by putting it up to a pair of my underwear, marked it and left enough for a seam allowance before cutting it. To apply it to the skirt, I pinned the sewn elastic circle to the four seams. Then stretched the elastic as I sewed it down. I saw a friend of mine wearing a skirt like this a couple of weeks ago and I wanted to duplicate the look. Especially since this has been a popular skirt treatment at JJill.

The only other addition was that I added a small lace trim to the hem of the lining. Why? Probably because I could and lately I have been trying to use up some of the trims that are overflowing my trim drawer! It's a nice touch.

And a tip when hemming a wide bottom skirt - I sew the amount that I want to turn under on my sewing machine using a basting stitch. Then I press this up. The steam gives me the ability to shape the hem. On this skirt I used a double folded hem because I didn't want to use rayon hem tape to clean finish the hem.

Finally here is a shot of me and how I will wear the skirt to work tomorrow...I think though that I will do my hair and make-up! *smile*


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