Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The Busy Woman's Sewing Book - FB#2

On my list of top 10 Favorite Sewing Books - my second book is, "The Busy Woman's Sewing Book" by Nancy Zieman.

Discovering Nancy Zieman, the host of Sewing With Nancy, on public television was one of the first epiphanies in my sewing. Saturday afternoons from 3-3:30 pm became "my time" in my household! This time was sacred because I spent time with Nancy! Even my small children knew about Nancy....*LOL* When I first started watching this series, she referred to this book alot so of course being susceptible to anything Nancy discussed, I had to have it!

My copy is dog-eared and several hundred passages are highlighted - okay not that many - but alot, alot of them are! *smile* Because this book sat on my nightstand for months. One of my favorite chapters was, "Finding Time to Sew." With three children 8 and younger, a husband, a full-time job, an active church life and all the other things that are associated with parenting young children, sewing time was at a premium. And the first tip in this section is called, "Make A Plan!" See I was indoctrinated early, very early on!

Flipping through the book, I found this tip highlighted..."Never join two seams together without pressing them, first flat and then open." Yes, it seems like basic knowledge now but please remember there wasn't a computer or two in every household then. I think I had heard of one sewing board on the internet on Compuserve (does anyone remember that?). There were no blogs and if you didn't have a friend that sewed, you sewed in solitude! So any knowledge I could gain whether through a sewing program on public television or through a book was like gold to me. And that's why this book makes my top ten list. It reminds me of when I yearned for anything to elevate my sewing to the next level, and this book gave it to me in simple to read text and large illustrations. 'Cause you know I have always like the pictures best! *LOL*

This book is now out of print. It was published by Open Chain Publishing in 1988 (Robbie Fanning - remember her - was the head of Open Chain or worked with Open Chain or started it) Anyone with the correct information, just chime in here! But most importantly, it was a great beginning sewing book. I knew how to sew. I just needed someone to encourage me and help me grow in my craft. Nancy did this.

So that's book 2...there will be more reviews as the weeks go by! Oh and if I can I want to add some vintage books that I love that didn't make my Top Ten list.

1. Anything by Adele Margolis...
I have Fashion Sewing for Everybody, The Complete Book of Tailoring, The Dressmaking Book and How to make clothes fit and flatter.

2. Anything by Edythe Bishop
I have Fashion Sewing by the Bishop Method and The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction.

These are well-loved books and are chock full of wonderful sewing information! I hope that I have encouraged you to add something new or vintage to your sewing library!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Inspired by Tory Burch

I love the September fashion magazines especially the September Vogue (which finally showed up, BTW!) To me the best part of these magazines are the advertisements. Hey, I am a sucker for pretty pictures on glossy paper! *smile* My normal manner of reading these magazines is to flip through the magazine, examine the ads and mark the pages that I want to use as inspiration for future garments. Sometimes they are cut out and added to my inspiration book and if they are really working a nerve, they are cut out and added to my bulletin board. Every once in awhile something is so pressing that I need to figure out a way to make it right away.

So I got to this ad in the September 2007 Vogue - it is a Tory Burch dress that is used in a Bloomingdales ad - and I stopped in my tracks. To me this dress would be perfect for right now if I made it in a drapey summer fabric. After a trip to the fabric closet and to the notions and trim stash, I had a concept for my version of this dress.

First let me show you what the original Tory Burch looks like, it's called the Agnes dress and its made from a knit fabric.

Here is my dress:

TNT Dress - The version and pattern pieces that I used to make the Chanel dress.

A black/green herringbone linen blend purchased from Fabric Mart for $1 a yard. This was purchased during one of Fabric Mart's semi-annual store sales (where everything is $1 a yard) and has been in my collection for at least five years.

2 yards of black satin piping
3 black glass vintage buttons - thanks Joanna!

Alterations/Changes to the Pattern to Achieve this Look:
~I added three inches to the yoke & front pieces and cut them out separately.
~I added a lightweight fusible interfacing to both fronts and folded the three inches back on the overlapping front piece.
~Piping was added to the neckline (handsewn in) and then the yoke facings were sewn down to finish the neckline opening.
~The sleeve facing was cut on the bias and added to the sleeve by folding it in half and then stitching in the ditch to secure it.
~The back zipper was omitted since there is now a button front opening.

The differences between the "Designer Dress" & "My Version":
~Mine has a yoked front opening
~My sleeves have a bias band at the end and are a little longer
~My dress has a side slit
~I omitted the pockets on the front

This is a very simple dress with just a little trim to add some spice. All of this is deliberate since I am attempting to make garments that have a more corporate slant to them and will fit in better with the atmosphere at my office. I think I finally have a fix on what garments I need to make and still be me.

However, there are a few changes that I would make to this dress in the future. Taking the back zipper out of the dress affects the fit in the back and so I will need to either add a back seam or alter the back pattern pieces for a better fit. This dress will work great for fall with a jacket or by itself with longer sleeves.

And finally - patent leather is hot, hot, hot for fall. And I bought these Anne Klein shoes last spring and they will look so good with this dress.

And that is summer dress number nine....

I Just Love To Sew...

There will be no pictures with this post...no inspirational statements or information shared, just a simple statement...I Love to Sew. And because of that love, I started this blog. I don't proclaim myself to be a sewing expert. Most times I am not even sure that I convey exactly how I make something correctly...or even if I use the "correct" methods to construct a garment. And I really hope that no one is looking to my blog and my ramblings for that information because there are just so many other blogs and sewing sites out there that provide that kind of information so much better.

My point of view, for better or worse is just to share what I know, to encourage others to sew, and especially other plus size women that we can sew and make wonderful garments, but mostly to ramble on about what I love....so let's not get it twisted, okay!

And now back to the regularly scheduled programming....

Thursday, August 23, 2007

My Ten Favorite Sewing Books

I have been collecting sewing books for about 20 years. I started my collection with the Singer Sewing Library books back when there was an independent fabric store in every town! I really treasured these books and at $14.99 per book they were an added expense for a family of five with two little girls in diapers! So my titles were carefully chosen by what I felt I needed to learn at the time.

After a few years, I became a serious collector and since that time I have purchased as many sewing books as I could afford. Now years later, my sewing library is pretty extensive. Of course, there are still a few books that I want to add to my collection, but my list isn't half as long as it used to be. Besides, I am mostly collecting "vintage" sewing books now...y'know books written in the 40s, 50s and 60s.

Here are my top 10 favorite sewing books:

1. Vogue/Butterick Step by Step Guide to Sewing Techniques

2. The Busy Woman's Sewing Book by Nancy Zieman published in 1988 by Open Chain Publishing.

3. The Complete Book of Sewing Short Cuts by Claire Schaeffer published in 1981 by Sterling Publishing.

4. Mother Pletsch's Painless Sewing by Pati Palmer & Susan Pletsch published in 1975 by Palmer/Pletsch Associates.

5. Clothes Sense - Straight Talk About Wardrobe Planning by Barbara Weiland & Leslie Wood published in 1974 by Palmer/Pletsch Associates.

6. More Power Sewing (the original version) by Sandra Betzina published in 1990 by Sandra Betzina.

The next few books are series and I have listed the books in the series that I own.

7. The Singer Sewing Library
~101 Sewing Secrets
~Color & Design on Fabric
~Creative Sewing Ideas
~Sewing for Special Occasions
~Sewing for Style
~Sewing Lingerie
~Sewing Specialty Fabrics
~Sewing with an Overlocker
~Sewing Update No. 2
~The Perfect Fit

8. The Taunton Sewing Library
~Easy Guide to Sewing Skirts by Marcy Tilton published in 1985
~Easy Guide to Sewing Jackets by Cecelia Podolak published in 1995
~Easy Guide to Sewing Blouses by Connie Long published in 1997
~Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long published in 1998
~Easy Guide to Sewing Pants by Lynn MacIntyre published in 1998
~Easy Guide to Sewing Tops & T-shirts by Marcy Tilton published in 1998

9. Weekend Sewers Guide Series by Kate Mathews and published by Lark Publishing
~Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Dresses published in 1998
~Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Blouses published in 1998
~Weekend Sewers Guide to Sewing Pants and Skirts published in 1998

There is a fourth book on jackets but it is not a favorite like the other three. I did buy it to complete the set but rarely refer to it, preferring the Cecelia Podolak book from Threads more.

And the final book is:
10. Decorative Dressmaking by Sue Thompson published in 1985 by Rodale Press.

Over the next few weeks, I will "chat" about these books explaining why I like them so much and why I think they are must haves when building a sewing library...which by the way, I believe all sewists should have.

I would like to tell you a little about the last book on my last "Decorative Dressmaking" because this is one awesome book! This book is out of print and a little difficult to locate and obtain. If anyone has a copy and loves it as much as I do please let me know!

The blurb on the back of the book says:

"In the 1920s and 1930s, dressmaking was still an art. Beautiful fabrics were cut into intricate shapes with clever hand-detailing; now the clothes are avidly collected for occasional party dresses and musuem display. Unhappily, the skills and experience of the dressmakers has vanished along with their fragile silks. But Decorative Dressmaking is your chance to change all that, to bring a fresh, new approach to traditional techniques, while making yourself a complete wardrobe! Each chapter concentrates on a classic form of decoration. Clear text, bright drawings and photographs, with suggestions and sketches for inspiration, tell you how to make your flounces whirl, topstitch a classic suit, pipe a fine seam, applique a skirt, band a trouser suit, pleat a ruffle, ruffle a ruched dress and open-stitch a jacket...Decorative Dressmaking has been made with care and love for everyone who loves fine clothes."

And that about sums the book up in a nutshell.

Here are a few pages to show you what's happening inside.

I love this book because of the way it breaks down how to use a pleat, a flounce, interesting places to put piping and for a person who loves trim as much as I do ~ it is the dream book. Now this is not a "how to learn to sew" book but a how-to decorate your clothing and use your fabric in extraordinary ways book. If you ever get a chance to get your hands on a copy of this book, buy it! You will be glad that you did!

Finally a few sources that I use for finding out of print books:
Please feel free to share any other sources and to let me know about your favorite sewing book!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A Little Bit of This & A Little Bit of That

There have been a few questions posed in the comments section lately and I wanted to answer them. Please forgive me but I am usually flipping through comments at work and don't have time then to answer them. When I finally remember that there are questions, I am usually rushing to post...so without further ado here are some answers to a few questions...

Adrienne asked about the sizing on vintage patterns?
My answer:
I have no idea! *LOL* I bought these because I liked them and the oldest pattern in my pattern stash is probably from the late 80's, maybe one or two from the late 70s. This will be my first adventure with "vintage" patterns. I will have to let you know as I work with them. But I do have to share with you that I only bought the first one to make as is and I expect to have to make some kind of alteration to it. The last two were purchased for design inspiration, meaning that I will probably take pieces and apply them to a design that I think is more today.

Jamie asked, "How much time did you spend dreaming, planning, constructing in your head?" in reference to the seersucker suit.
My answer:
Usually my outfits get a lot of thought time. However, the fabric was the incentive in this outfit and that is why the turnaround time was so quick. The fabric spoke, I listened and then I sewed. I can actually say that this was a sponteneous sew and that this is a rare thing for me. Most of my outfits have a lot of time and thought invested in them! And what would that be on average? Probably 3-4 hours...

Faye asked, "Is your TNT trouser pant one with a fly front zipper and waistband?"
My answer:
Okay Faye, I read your question and then truly thought about whether I wanted to share the unvarnished truth with everyone. And then I decided that this works for me and my lifestyle so why be concerned with what anyone else thinks. I mean I post bad sewing advise here, why not bad pattern advise! *LOL* So the answer to your question is that my TNT pants pattern has an elastic waist because my waistline fluctuates from week to week ~ hey sometimes from day to day! Take the sage dress that I just posted. I think from the waist down that I look considerably larger in the pictures of that dress than in the Ladybug Dress. And it's because the camera doesn't lie...my waistline is two inches larger this week than it was during the time I was making the Ladybug Dress (Marji that's why sometimes I have a tendency too add to much width to the waistline and then have to remove it when I finally try the garment on!). At one point, I had clothes (pants/skirts) for one time of the month and clothes for another time...finally I got tired of that and went with elastic waist pants.

Several of my favorite TNT skirts have elastic waists also but I do love a straight skirt and I have found that if I make a really skinny waistband or use no waistband on the skirt that it takes me through my weight fluctuations. So there you have it, the entire unvarnished truth! *LOL*

That was the first bit and here is the second...

Today is my middle daughter's 19th birthday! She is the one on the right! Can't believe she is that old and how fast it went. I still remember fighting with a 2 year old about what clothes she could wear - she always wanted the most "fashionable" thing. Braiding hair on Saturday evenings, fighting with her to get up, do her homework, finish her chores, etc. And now she is a wonderful young lady! The first picture is of her and her younger sister (who will be 18 in November!) when they were 2 and 3. This picture is on both of their cellphones!

And here she is now!

Happy, Happy Birthday Aggie!

I'm off! The new Bazaar showed up in the mail and I have to go look for inspiration for fall sewing...however, my September Vogue still hasn't arrived! I'm convinced the mailman just doesn't want to carry it around...and I don't know why? He delivers the mail in one of those little postal vans! *smile*

More later...

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pattern Shopping

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to my fall sewing. I have been wondering how I can incorporate some of the new trends into my fall "corporate" wardrobe? What new colors would be appropriate for my all black and navy office? Will I be able to sew several of the new shorter jackets and not overdo the look? Questions, I have a few...

And then there is the Sew Stylish influence ~ yeah I think that's going to be my mantra for a minute! I want to incorporate the fun of playing with patterns and design into my sewing mix... So when a girl has this many questions...what else is there to do but to pattern shop! (I have images of Wilma & Betty, from The Flintstones, yelling charge it as they head out the door to shop!)

So that's what I did...I shopped! First stop ~ Simplicity's website where I purchased a copy of 3631 - the Sew Stylish Pattern.

Next stop was Lanetz Living's Vintage Pattern Site. Now I know some of you live on this site but I am not a big vintage pattern girl for many reasons. One I've already worn several of these styles and don't need to do it again! *LOL* And two I don't think that some of the vintage clothing styles and my body shape go together. This time though I was only looking for inspiration.

So I found this little bit of inspiration:

And this little bit of inspiration:

Wait just one more piece of inspiration:

These will all be winging their way to my house especially since there's a 15% discount (for inspiration) that is being offered on the site now and free shipping when you buy three or more patterns. Who can beat that!?!

Last stop on the pattern shopping train...yesterday I opened my email box and learned that Vogue Patterns is having a $6.99 pattern sale which ends tonight at 11:59 pm. Now "my people" usually get Vogue patterns for me at the Hancock pattern sales but "my people" have been out of town alot lately. And the last time she was in town, a couple of these weren't available so I rectified that by allowing this one - Vogue 8134:

and this one - Vogue 8203:

and this one - Vogue 8208:

to come and play at my house!

Now with all of this pattern shopping, inspiration and thinking you just know that I have a concrete, written down, bona fide plan ~ right? Ah heck no! *LOL* I still only have an outline, a guide, a fill in the blank plan!

I know that I want my fall wardrobe to have a retro nod. I know that grey, brown and a touch of eggplant will be the primary colors I work with. I know that I will focus on sewing suits that will consist of either a jacket, skirt, pants combo or a jacket, dress, pants combo. And I know I won't be swapping this year. However, that's about all I know!

So how about you? Are you thinking fall? And what are you thinking about? Are you planning yet? And here is the million dollar question...If you don't plan your sewing for the next season, does it hinder your ability to sew a cohesive wardrobe that will work for your lifestyle? Think on that and holla back at me.

Finally Summerset, if you don't mind, I am borrowing your "Parting Shot" piece again ~ I promise to give it right back when I'm done! *smile* And thanks for noticing that the tie ends were cut to showcase the border print!

Me, in the dress and looking so slim (gotta love those spanx and a better picture!) *LOL* This is how I wore it today. This dress was a pleasure to wear even in the cooler temps and garnered many compliments.

I'm out...I gotta go do some more planning! *smile*

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Summer of the Dress - No. 8

I originally titled this post "Border Prints" but then I realized that this is like the 8th dress I have made this summer, I thought this title was more appropriate.

For this dress I am revisiting Vogue 9220 and using one of the border prints in my collection to make it. Personally, I love border prints. Whenever I find an interesting one in a color and print that I like, I buy it. No hesitations, no questions, just slap down that credit card for as many yards as I can afford! Border prints usually linger in my fabric collection longer than most other fabrics because it always needs the perfect pattern to showcase its beauty.

I found this embroidered rayon/linen blend at Fashion Fabrics Club last spring. FFC had it in several colorways but I really liked this sage and a navy version. The fabric is 60" wide with an embroidered garden print at the selvege. I purchased 4 yards of this fabric and put it away to wait for inspiration to strike.

After carting around the latest Sew Stylish magazine last week, there was one idea that keep coming back to me...the blouse with the tie. I loved the fact that the Editors took the bodice top and made it into a blouse and then made several modifications to the blouse neckline. You would think that this would inspire me to make a blouse (and I probably will make that blouse when the pattern arrives in the mail) but mostly I kept seeing Vogue 9220 with the ties at the neckline. I went through various sleeve modifications in my mind and had not settled on a definitive sleeve treatment by the time I sat down to work on this dress. I did cut out sleeves but as you can see I never used them.

I made several changes to the pattern to get this dress:

1. Since the neckline is pretty deep, I omitted the center back zipper. Okay, I did try "The Ladybug dress" on first to make sure the dress would go over my head without a problem! *smile*

2. The entire dress is cut on the cross grain and the pattern pieces were carefully laid out to take full advantage of the embroidered border print.

3. I added the tie by using a pattern piece from Vogue 8118 which I made last summer. However, I made two changes to the tie pattern piece...first, I lengthened the pattern piece by three inches. And then I folded the pattern piece in half and after pinning it down to the fabric added another inch to the width. This did not make it as wide as the original pattern piece but it wasn't as thin as it would have been just folded in half. So why did I even bother to change the tie piece? Because I wasn't happy with the tie on the original blouse. It is a little large and floppy at the neckline when I wear the blouse and I didn't want to duplicate that with this dress.

4. The tie was attached to the back neckline of the dress matching center seams. The part of the seam that wasn't encased in the tie was pressed, clipped and top stitched.

5. Originally I was going to add sleeves to the dress but when I tried it on I really liked it sleeveless. I own a lacy lilac cardigan sweater that I made several years ago that coordinates with the dress so I will wear that with it when the air conditioning is overwhelming.
6. The hem is not hand or machine stitched. I did a sample on a scrap but the hand stitching and the machine stitching affected the border print so I steamed in some Stitch Witchery (industrial strength!) for the hem. It actually makes the hem stiffer and weights it.

So this is my nod to pattern modification as inspired by the Fall 2007 issue of Sew Stylish!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Sew Stylish & What Was I Thinking!

ETA: I realize that the Sew Stylish magazine has only one more issue...I am just so thrilled with this particular issue!

Let's just get the "What Was I Thinking" portion of this post out of the way first! By me admitting that Marji was right...I can not possibly work the hours I work and attempt to do a sewing activity every evening...c'mon I am just burnt out at the end of the day. Especially if you add work related social activities and then just social activities to the end of my days. And all of this just confirms that my preferred method of sewing ~ in large blocks of time on the weekends works best for me and that I should stick with it! Nice experiment, it failed, move on!

'Cause what was I thinking! *LOL*


Ohmygosh! I bought a copy of the Fall 2007 issue of Sew Stylish on Tuesday afternoon and have been carting it around with me all week. I left it home on Thursday morning and felt like I left something vital at home, like my cell phone or my watch! I have to say that this is the best sewing magazine issue that I have read in a long time. It is chock full of helpful sewing advice and sewing inspiration. If you have not purchased a copy yet, please run don't walk to your local bookstore or newsstand and get a copy!

There are several things that I like about this issue but my favorite is the 11 outfits from one pattern. They just worked the mess out of this pattern! First the pattern is Simplicity 3631:

Now many people on the sewing boards have talked about this pattern. It even made the "must buy" list of several bloggers that I admire. I have looked at it a time or two and admired it but I just didn't see its potential.
From this pattern, the editors of Sew Stylish made:

1. A pin striped skirt suit that consists of a jacket with an altered sleeve, a bow-tie short sleeve blouse and a straight skirt.

2. A short sleeve yoked button front jacket w/tie, pleated short skirt

3. Jeans with a bow-tie blouse and a jacket with a hem ruffle and a sleeve ruffle.

4. Pencil leg pants with a tie front long sleeve blouse and a belt (instructions in the mag)

5. Coat with a dress made using the coat pattern (too kewl!)

6. Sleeveless LBD

7. Highwaisted skirt with yoked blouse that has short puffy sleeves

8. Straight skirt with funky pockets and sleeveless Peter Pan collared top

9. Calf length pants with a cuff and a short sleeveless tank top

10. Straight skirt with a knit top with amazing elbow length dolman sleeves and elasticized hems

11. A color blocked top with banded high waisted pants

Not only is the pattern emphasized but how to make all of the changes are detailed too! They give you the instructions on how to make all the changes - can we say taking sewing to the next level! I also love how they organized the portions of the magazine making it so easy to move from the beginning of the sewing process to the end!

Pattern Principles
Construction Zone
Great Fit
Designer Secrets
Hot Stuff Bonuses

And I love the clarity of the pictures, the reprinting of several great articles from Theads and did I say this before but once again the detailed instructions! The sad thing is that they won't be producing this magazine after the next issue any more... Hopefully, this means that each additional issue they produce will have this same awesome quality of information and inspiration!

So go and purchase a copy of the magazine and get the pattern too because even if you don't fit into the pattern's size range, the mag gives clear and easily understandable instructions on how to grade up the pattern.

Yes, I am gushing! Yes, I am inspired! And yes this has moved my sewing into a whole new dimension. Ummmm what are you still doing sitting here reading this post! Go out and get a copy ~ now!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Look what I got!

I forgot that I wanted to show you what came in the mail today...sometimes TV just blinds me to what is really important...Okay, I am just so excited and just have to share!

But I got these from my friend Joanna today!

They are glass buttons ~ several cards in several different patterns. Some of the cards state that the buttons are from the 1940's and 1950's! I am just so excited. These will look fabu on my fall/winter retro jackets. Aren't they beautiful?

Gaylen - I was watching "The Closer" can you believe that there are only 3 episodes left!

Five Days of Preparation - Day One

I am going to try something new this week. I am going to attempt to do something sewing related every evening when I get in from work. It can be something as simple as rethreading my serger or making additional bobbins or as extensive as cutting out pattern pieces. But I have to do something every evening.

This is a huge commitment for me because some nights I don't crawl in the door until way after 9 p.m. And I am giving myself a pass on Wednesday evening because I have a work-related function to attend after my regular day is done. I don't foresee me making it home before 11:30 p.m.

Now the point of this exercise is to do an actual sewing related item every day this week, not just the weekend. I am hoping that this activity will start a habit that will cause me to have fewer non-sewing weekends...we shall see!

The problem is not that I don't think of sewing every day because I do. Today I was sitting on the subway waiting for it to move (and waiting, and waiting, and waiting...) when I noticed a young lady sitting in front of me wearing a simple gray t-shirt that looked a lot like Simplicity 4076 - the u-necked short sleeve version.

Her t-shirt had a lot more shirring in the front than the pattern and her short sleeves were a little longer and had a band around them. Very kewl! This made me think of other ways that I could make this garment work for me...as a top with a matching skirt, as a dress, as a tunic top and off my mind went. So its not the thinking that I have a problem with during the week, its the actual execution!
So tonight I am going to prewash two knits...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

It's a Non-Sewing Weekend

It's a non-sewing weekend and I don't really know why...I just know that nothing I have is tickling my fancy. It's not like I don't have a list of items to make ~ see sidebar ~ or a closet full of beautiful pieces of fabric to work with or even enough patterns to make an entirely new wardrobe several times over! It's just that nothing is doing "it" for me.

I am one of those people that sew by inspiration. Touch or see a piece of fabric that strikes a chord and I am off. See a picture in a magazine and the wheels start turning. Get a new pattern and I just want to rip the pieces from the envelope and create something new...and none of that is working for me this weekend...

Now I started the weekend with a great idea...I was going to make V8209 out of the poly/cotton white eyelet that I just received from Fabric Mart. I was going to construct the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank out of the same fabric and have a great cardigan and top to go over a skirt or pair of pants. I left work on Friday evening eagerly anticipating the weekend to work on this project...and now it is Sunday afternoon and nothing. Suddenly the fabric seems to flimsy for my idea and the jacket too long. Also, would this outfit be to "cutesy" for the professional environment I work in???

Another driving force to my sewing is the need to have something new to wear...pathetic, right? But that is the truth of the situation and in actuality I still have a few pieces that I made last year that haven't been worn to work yet. So I find myself drifting...However I did get one thing accomplished this weekend, I finally got the pictures of my garments transferred over to new Flickr photo albums!

Otherwise there has been no sewing here this weekend...I got nothing new to share....So here I sit...no sewing in sight...and only a great desire to sit and read a book before I head off to my niece's 6th birthday party...maybe I will finally break down and work on my Fall Sewing List...

Hope everyone else had a productive sewing weekend! And if you read my last post and enjoyed it, I hope that you read the comments section...there were some awesome replies there...so get a cup of coffee or your favorite beverage settle in and have a good read...the comments are truly amazing!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Sewing Fast

How do you sew so fast???

I am often asked this question. And I guess I am still amazed that it is asked of me because I truly don't think I sew that fast! I keep thinking that if I didn't stop to spend so much time on the computer or if I didn't watch a couple of hours of TV or if I didn't putter around the house for half the morning that I could have gotten at least two more pieces done.

Let's take last week for example...I didn't work on Friday but I went out to lunch with a friend and when I got home I took a nap. Then I puttered around the house during the evening and hung out with my kids. Went to bed early and got up Saturday...more puttering but this time I watched television, talked to a few friends on the phone, watched QVC most of the morning (it was Fashion Day!) and finally around 7:00 pm sat down to sew.

Now I will admit two things - "The Ladybug Dress" - what someone nicknamed the black/red polka dot dress at work - was half way done. I did start constructing it the previous Sunday evening. And two I didn't get up from my sewing area until it was completed.

I think there are two aspects to my sewing:

1. I am very organized.
I make lists (blog post about the lists I keep), keep supplies stashed and make sure that I have everything I need to make & complete an outfit before I sit down to sew. If all of the components aren't on hand, I don't start the project. There are no trips to Joann's or Wal-Marts midway through a project to pick up something that I don't have.

2. I am very focused.
I know that I am most productive when I sew in blocks of time so I schedule my life to have those blocks of time. Now this task is much easier now that my children are grown and pretty much have lives of their own. I don't drive children anywhere. I don't mall - can't stand it! Only do it when forced - usually by my mother. I also don't cook much anymore...do you know how much time cooking takes up?! *smile* My DDs are pretty self-sufficient and can either make a meal or supply one that someone else has made...and I think I own every take out menu for every type of food in the area! *LOL*

This is not to say that I don't go out with friends, to the movies or sometimes just sit and read a book...but when I want to sew, I just sew.

Let's take Sunday for instance when I made the seersucker suit. I started sewing about 10 am. I put my last stitch in the garment at a little after midnight since my goal was to wear the suit to work the next day. I worked on that suit for over 12 hours. Yes, I had something to eat. Yes, I stopped to watch "The 4400" - totally stopped sewing because I love that show! I know I took a break in there to eat dinner with my oldest daughter because she will be leaving me soon so I try to spend some time with her every weekend. And I know I talked to a few friends on Sunday but mostly I just sewed.

So the 10-12 hours it took to make the suit seems really fast but in actuality it is the same time that everyone probably takes ~ they just don't do it in one sitting. And I think that is the real difference in my sewing than in others...I just sit and sew for really long blocks of time.

Now I will admit that back in the day ~ not that long ago! I use to sew the "fast, faster, fastest" method. Hand sewing ~ that was two curse words. Paying attention to detail or very involved methods - didn't happen with this girl! That seersucker jacket's insides would have been serged and sewn. In my FFF days I would never have taken hours to sew binding to seams - I mean what in the world was my serger for??? *LOL* Lining a garment - pleeze! That meant making it twice which took too much time! A skirt could be worn with a slip and pants could have pantyhose under them in the winter...and who needed lined pants in the middle of a hot & steamy summer anyway! The sad thing is that I was very proud of that type of sewing. I could be overheard bragging about how fast I could turn a simple skirt out...

Then I happened onto Sewing World (now defunct) and my life changed. I met women who invested serious time into their sewing and made these amazing garments full of wonderful sewing techniques. And I wanted to be like them...so I re-evaluated my sewing methods...became a proponent of linings and underlinings...bought my first piece of silk organza and was hooked.

My "fast" sewing does not skip steps. It only eliminates steps if they don't fit my design vision (i.e., the lining for the Ladybug Dress), and hand sewing is definitely a part of my sewing repertoire.

So no I wouldn't say I was fast, just a little focused...However, I have a question for you who read my ramblings...Do you do everything possible before you sit down to sew? If so, why? I mean have you ever thought about why you put something that gives you so much enjoyment in last place? And if you do give sewing priority, do you ever analyze why you sew slowly? Do you enjoy the journey and want to savor every minute of it? Or are you paralyzed by choices which makes it hard to make progress?

Share with me...I am truly interested because I just really don't think that I sew that fast!

Monday, August 06, 2007

A Few Photos - Part 2

The red & black polka dot dress was made from OOP Vogue 9220. I used fabric that I stashed back when my DD's were mere toddlers. The label on the fabric said that the fabric was purchased from Cloth World. Those of us on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA, know that Cloth World was merged with Joann Fabrics at least 15 maybe 20 years ago! So this was a piece that has waited for some time to make it's world debut.

So here I am in the dress:

As I previously posted, I added the black trim because I did not want to line the dress and the pattern only comes with a lining and no facing pieces. Too get around this challenge without drafting new pattern pieces, I decided to bind the neckline. With trim I always think in "The Rule of Three"...add it three places to make the trim seem like a planned and well-thought out element. Using that theory, I also added it to the sleeve hems and the hem of the dress. In my mind, it gives the dress a beginning and an ending.

If you look at the sleeves, they have a slight bell shape to them. I would like to say that this was deliberate, but it was an after affect of lengthening the sleeve pattern. I liked the shape, so I kept it.

One more view of the dress:

I am wearing this to work tomorrow because the humidity is suppose to be worse than today (Is that possible?) and the temperature in the high 90's, maybe even tipping a 100! Hopefully I will be cool in the street but warm enough in the office and on the bus!

So what's up next? I am thinking about using the brown linen with my TNT Tamoutsu dress pattern with a line of brown mother of pearl buttons marching down the front of the dress...

But who knows...inspiration may strike, more fabric may arrive...so stay tuned!

A Few Photos

Well I promised pictures so here they are:

Okay my daughter and I were fooling around but I really liked this shot! Just to remind you I used Vogue 8209 for the jacket pattern, my TNT pants pattern with a slight alteration and a grey/black/white seersucker from Fabric Mart.

A front view:

And most importantly a back view:

A few construction details:

I loved the opening on the sleeve and the sleeve seaming. However, the next time I make this jacket, I will draft a facing for the sleeve hemline. With a facing this sleeve hem will have a cleaner finish and could be cuffed. Also since there is a seam in the middle of the sleeve the bicep alteration was really easy to make!

I had started construction on the jacket and serged several of the pieces before I was "inspired" to bind all the seams in the jacket. The pattern does not instruct you to do any special finishing details. And I want to be clear that I added binding to the seams, I did not do a Hong Kong finish. A few weeks ago I purchased about 20 yards of a light beige cotton binding from Daytona Trimmings I used this binding to encase the seams and sewed close to the edge of the binding.

Nancy asked about the alteration to the back leg...first a disclaimer...this is the Carolyn Method and not a TNT sewing book alteration. I measured from my waist to just under the curve of my buttocks. Took that measurement and made a mark on my pants pattern from that point on I folded in a 1/4" on my pattern piece to the hem.

Why??? Because the seersucker had a lot of stretch in it and I was concerned that if I made my typical trouser pant that the butt would stretch out. Taking out a 1/4" on back pattern pieces, gave the pants a closer fit. That definitely took some getting use to when wearing them today.

The other thing that I would change on the jacket is that I would add some closures to the jacket. This a great jacket to pose in! But in everyday actual wearing, it blows open in even a slight breeze. Clutching my jacket as I walk to the subway is not my idea of looking cute so the fall version will definitely have buttons on it. I even have some amazing silver buttons that I am thinking about adding to this jacket.

Otherwise this outfit was easy to wear...comfortable...and while I was in line for the salad bar at lunchtime, a woman came up to me and complimented me on the suit! It is a winner!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Vogue 8209

Last weekend I bought three pieces of fabric from FabricMart's 50% off Blowout Sale. One piece was a brown pleather piece (that I am using for some pillows), another was a poly/cotton white eyelet piece and the final piece was a gray/black/white stretch seersucker. All the pieces were at rock bottom prices and I had been watching them for some time on FM's site.
When the box arrived I was working on the red dress so I put the two apparel pieces into the fabric pile in my sewing area. The other day I was staring at the pieces and realized that they would make a cute suit. The two fabrics had an interesting play against each other so they never made it to the fabric closet but straight onto my cutting table.

Vogue 8209 which is a "Five Easy Pieces" pattern had been skipping around in my mind. Then when I saw Nancy's version, I knew I had to use this pattern.

The pattern envelope's description is:
Semi-fitted jacket in two lengths has neckline and sleeve variations.

Grey/black/white stretch seersucker from FM

Actually not many. After checking the finished measurements on the pattern pieces and flat measuring the pieces I cut a size 20 at the neckline and sleeves and a 24 for the body. I then added 1" to the center back seam, leaving the neckline alone and gradually adding the inch to the main body and hemline. I used the sleeves and neckline from the View A jacket but the length of View B jacket. I also omitted the side vents that I only noticed in the pattern instructions after I went to make sure that I didn't leave anything out.

This pattern is actually a very quick sew. I mean if you don't add binding to all of the seams, including the shoulder pads, you could probably knock this pattern out in 2 or 3 hours including cutting. My version of course took much longer! No easy sewing for me! *LOL*

I used my TNT pants pattern and I made a slight alteration to the back leg of the pattern. This seersucker had a lot of stretch in it and I thought a little closer fit would work better with this fabric. I am happy with the alteration in the finished pants. Again, I don't have pictures of me in the finished pantsuit...and I think the picture above really makes the outfit look like pajamas, but it is what I am wearing to work tomorrow. I will have one of the DD's take a picture of me in the pantsuit after work tomorrow.

I still have plans to make a quick shell from my TNT SW Mission Tank out of the white eyelet fabric. Tomorrow though I will wear a regular cotton tank top underneath the suit.

Final picture of the red dress and pantsuit - weekend sewing!

I promise to add pictures of me in the outfits soon!

Circa 1995 ~ Vogue 9220

Or the polka dot dress:

The pattern back describes it as a fitted, and slightly flared, lined dress, above mid-knee, has princess seams, back zipper and short sleeves.

I was attracted to this pattern because of the cover illustration. I am sure now that the dress is finished that I could have used a current pattern like Butterick 4980 or Simplicity 4014. But I had to take the adventure with this pattern. Y'know how you get an idea into your head and then there is no turning back. That's what this pattern's journey was about.

First I made quite a few alterations to this pattern, even though I started with a size 22. Alterations such as:

~ 2 inches in length was added to all of the pieces

~ 1 inch was added to all the side seams beginning at the waist and ending at the hem

~ The sleeve was altered by adding length to the pattern and width to the biceps. I showed a picture of the altered picture in one of my last posts.

~ I also used the pivot and slide techniquee on the center front piece adding another 3 inches at the hemline and 2 inches at the waist.

Of course to achieve the close fitting appearance of the dress, I ended up taking all of those added inches out. I also did not put the lining in the dress. Because the pattern included a lining in the dress, there were no facing pieces. The linen I used for the dress was a medium weight piece and I am sewing for the 90 degree weather we are currently experiencing. I just could not bear the thought of a lining sticking to me.

So I used binding to finish off the neckline edge...a 1" black satin binding that I had in my stash. I added the binding to the neckline, sleeve hems and the hem of the dress. The black did a good job of breaking up some of the red/black in this dress...I don't look like a big polka dot since I added the black trim.

Sorry there are no pics of me in the dress but I finished this dress late last night and started in on the seersucker pantsuit - that is in the next post - but I will add pictures later, I promise! Now the final and most important question is ~ will I use this pattern again? I don't know. This might be one of those patterns that sits and waits for the perfect fabric to come along or then it might never be used again...only time will tell!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Its August so it must be Fall!

Here on the East Coast, we are in the midst of a heatwave ~ every day temps are over 90 degrees and those soaring temps are predicted to last well into next week! But I am all atwitter because the fall fashion catalogs and magazines are landing in my virtual as well as real mailbox.

So even though the temperatures are soaring and the air is soupy, I am drooling over wools, tweeds and leathers. I am dreaming of cooler temperatures and layering garments. I am imagining what I can create for fall and how I can inject some of the new trends into my fall wardrobe.

The new "September" Lucky is in with a headline screaming about where I can purchase fall fashions. Thanks Erica!

I am even anticipating the 5 lb. September Vogue ~ y'know the issue that has just as many advertisements as articles! Oh but the fun of looking and dreaming...to me its just one huge inspiration book!

There are just so many versions of the short retro jacket everywhere...and Vonnevo on PR has just created a trio of jackets that you must see! Check them out here! She used Butterick 4980 which I used during my sewing vaca. As you may remember, I made two of these jackets - one in a linen jacquard and one in the brown eyelet. I really thought that I wouldn't use this pattern again but with Vonnevo's trio and all the new retro jackets being shown, I think I am definitely pulling this pattern out and trying it again!

My virtual mailbox brought me the new St. John's collection and the fall catalog for Barrie Pace.

Even my TV set is getting involved..."Fall Fashion Day on QVC" is this Saturday and several of my favorite designers are showing their collections...Dana Buchman and Bradley Bayou.

So as I sit in a t-shirt and shorts with the air conditioning cranked up high, finishing off the last of my summer sewing...I have dreams of fall clothing dancing through my mind.

It's August ~ so it must be fall, right?!


Related Posts with Thumbnails