Monday, March 31, 2008

Transitional Sewing

Yes, this transitional sewing plan happens twice a year...between summer and fall and between winter and spring. Since it's the time of year between winter and spring, and even though I am already thinking about wonderfully colored summer dresses in light and airy fabrics...the reality is that it is going to take a minute to get that warm here in the Northeast.

So every year I add several pantsuits to my list for both transitional periods...every year I get maybe one made. Which I then precede to wear into the dirt so that I end up right back where I started. And this year is no exception, 'cause there are two pantsuits on my transitional sewing list!

eta: In the interest of full disclosure - I made this suit last year! But it is the type of suit that I will be making for my transitional wardrobe. Don't want anyone thinking that this is something new! :)

Now I'm sure you are wondering why even make up a transitional sewing list? Well because I LIKE new clothes and you need something, you really do, for those slightly chilly yet beginning to get warmer days...and I am TIRED of my winter clothes! Aren't you?

So without further ado, here is my sewing list:

1. Make vanilla silk twill lined straight skirt to coordinate with Easter Suit jacket.

2. Chocolate brown/pink pinstripe pantsuit (already cut out from last fall - just waiting to be stitched). Make SW Mission Tank from pink silk crepe.

3. Pink cotton twinset - using Burda OOP cardigan & SW Mission Tank with tie.

4. Black ltwt gabardine pinstripe pantsuit - using V7944 and made exactly like the brown suit in the photo.

5. Brown cotton eyelet from Gorgeous Things in Tamotsu dress sleeveless with white piping. Make a white cotton shrug type sweater to wear with...

And that's my transitional list - short, sweet and hopefully doable. I am learning not to pile the entire world on it! *LOL* In the hopes of actually finishing all of the garments on the list.

So what about you? Are you sewing things for a transitional period or are you going full steam ahead into spring/summer? Or do you even have a transitional period? And for my friends on the other side of the world - how does this work for you? Do you transition or do you slide into a season full-tilt?

Now that the weekend from home dec hell is over - which btw I did not sew a thing! I gave in and purchased a lot of stuff!!! And even that made me feel like I was going to break out in hives! I will be working on my list and getting some things made!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I Abhor Home Dec

eta: from Marji - seems I used the wrong word...but I am standing by the content cause I ABHOR home dec...*LOL*

loath - adjective
1. unwillingness to do something contrary to your custom; "a reluctant smile"; "loath to admit a mistake"
2. (usually followed by 'to') strongly opposed; "antipathetic to new ideas"; "averse to taking risks"; "loath to go on such short notice"; "clearly indisposed to grant their request" [syn:

loathe - verb
find repugnant; "I loathe that man"; "She abhors cats" [syn:

Well I guess you can tell that spring is approaching...

Because spring usually makes me want to clean closets or fix something...but due to a downstairs neighbor, I had to fix a lot of something in my apartment...which in turn caused me to just go ahead and change curtains, bedspreads etc.

Now I A-B-H-O-R home dec sewing...give me a pattern with a lot of little pieces, a great piece of fabric and a vision and I am happy as a pig in slop! Give me long pieces of fabric that just need straight seams and I'm running as fast as my little feet can carry me away from the scene.

However, since these actions have been FORCED upon me, I am the midst of home dec hell! So there will be no garment sewing this weekend...

Which brings me to just one other point before I go to move some furniture...I HATE LOEWS! Yeap that's right the home dec/do-it-yourself store...poor customer service, more poor customer service and even more poor customer service makes me wonder how they stay in business!

I am still planning my transitional wardrobe but alas home and hearth has taken precedence this weekend. I will have more garment related sewing soon!

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Why do we sewists point out the flaws?

I have been asked that question or some variation of that question either here or in personal emails and I have even been scolded by a very good friend about pointing out flaws in my garments!

I have one word for this question...perspective...and then quite a few more words! *LOL*

See several of you read my post as the garments are flawed ~ where I saw the garments as unfinished or incomplete. I chose the route of full disclosure because I realize that pictures can and do make the garments appear finished and perfect. Personally, I don't want to perpetrate that fraud so I listed what wasn't finished with each piece or what I will change to the piece...that's Point 1.

Here's Point 2, I think of myself as an enthusiastic sewist who has a passion for sewing, fabric and clothes. In no way do I proclaim to be or want to portray myself as an authority on fit or as a great instructor who knows how to sew each and every piece correctly. There are so many blogs out there authored by some fabulous teachers and sewists who tackle these subjects so much better than I ever could...Don't make me name, names! *LOL*

I write about my sewing adventures to encourage other sewists who are just beginning their sewing journeys, or who are returning to sewing after some time away or even for sewists who sew at the same level that I do. And please understand that I realize that I'm in the middle of the pack when it comes to sewing talent. I am so impressed and inspired by some of the really talented sewing artistes who are blogging. These artistes not only have amazing technical skill, technique and knowledge, they share it so willingly with the online sewing community!

Point 3 - my "Make it Work" post was suppose to be the first post and then I was going to write a follow-up post detailing the changes to the finished garments. I still intend to do this, its just a little hard to do if I haven't had the opportunity to make the changes yet. So let me state here emphatically, that I don't believe my garments were flawed, they were unfinished, incomplete, rushed BUT NOT flawed!

Finally, please understand that I am not looking for affirmation. I know who I am, what I'm capable of doing and what I still have to learn. I am quite pleased with me right here in this place, knowing that there are more sewing journeys to take and learn from. However, if I can inspire just one person to fall in love with sewing as a newbie or again, or one plus size woman can realize that you CAN have a fashionable and fabulous wardrobe no matter your size, or even that being "middle-aged" doesn't mean you have to be marginalized...then hey, I am doing a good thing!

And for the wordsmiths amongst defines "flaw" as:
1. An imperfection, often concealed, that impairs soundness,
2. To make or become defective
3. characterized by flaws; having imperfections

Now talk amongst yourselves, 'cause I have a transitional wardrobe to plan and sew! Til next time!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My wardrobe and sewing

Pajntsl asked:
If you had to give a %, how much of your closet consist of things you made, opposed to RTW? And whats TNT?

Let's start with TNT - means Tried and True Pattern. You know a pattern that you've made over and over and you've worked out all of the fitting issues, so you can just lay it down on the fabric, cut it out and sew it up.

Now to the main question - I would say that I make 90% of what I wear. Yeah, I know that's scary right! *LOL* For me to purchase RTW it has to meet several criteria - one, it has to be under $20 for the garment ~ anything over that I can reproduce at home! Or it has to be something that is a waste of my time to reproduce, i.e., the cotton tank tops that I own in every color! I also tend to purchase sweaters because even though I can make fantastic twinsets sometimes it is just easier to buy them. And I still haven't perfected a turtleneck pattern yet...when I out! So all of my turtlenecks are RTW!

I see y'all shaking your heads in disbelief, but think about it. If I produce approximately 50 pieces a year, it wouldn't take long before most of my wardrobe is made by me. Since I've gotten a pants pattern to fit, I haven't bought a pair of RTW pants. I can't remember the last dress, skirt or suit jacket that I've purchased. I broke down recently and bought a jean jacket only because spring goes by so quickly that I never get one made in time...not that I don't own several jean jacket patterns and quite a bit of denim! *LOL*

Probably the follow-up question is how and why?
Sewing is my passion. I would much rather spend time doing this than a lot of other things. Also, I have raised my children. I no longer have to cart kiddies here and there, go to PTA meetings, birthday parties, afterschool activities, etc. that use to consume so much of my days. I am also not as involved in church as I was when my daughters' were younger. This leaves alot of time on the weekend for sewing.

But mostly, I guess the answer is that I I do! So what about you? Do you sew most of your wardrobe or do you have a combination of RTW and Couture Sewn...I refuse to call it home made! And what is the percentage if you do? Now for the $100,000 question, if most of your clothing is RTW, yet you love to sew, why isn't more of your wardrobe sewn by you? What prevents you from sewing more? Is it fitting the pattern? Your skill level? What? I really want to know so talk back to me!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Make It Work!" Sunday

Happy Easter Everyone!

Yes, I did wear the suit to church today. I finished it enough to "make it work" and wearable, but it wasn't finished with all the detailing that I wanted. In my opinion, the jacket needs another 3-4 hours of effort before it is "perfect"!

I decided to go with the top and skirt instead of the dress after making my daughter's skirt ~ thinking that it would be quicker and I would end up with more versatile pieces...I think I sewed them so quickly that I am not happy with the final outcome. There is still some more work to be done to all of the pieces to bring them up to the level I desire.

I guess I should have cried "uncle" but I R-E-A-L-L-Y wanted to wear the suit today! *LOL* Okay, so let's start with a picture...then I will tell you everything that isn't finished or went wrong and what I'm going to do about it!

First the jacket:
1. Needs covered buttons and covered snaps added to the jacket fronts so that the jacket will close. I decided to leave these off about 10:00 pm last night.

2. Needs sleeve linings. Those sleeves only have organza in them but no sleeve linings. I jettisoned that part about 1:00 am this morning. So I will remove the hand stitching at the hem and add the sleeves by machine stitching them to the hem and then hand stitching into the jacket lining. Since I never took my jacket off, no one noticed.

The top:
I originally had a bowtie on the top. Yes, took all the time necessary to cut, stitch and add a bow-tie to the Sewing Workshop Mission Tank. The idea worked but the top looked horrible with the jacket. So then I had to remove the bowtie, however, the neckline was a little wonky due to way I cut it to add the tie. I wore it with the wonky neckline today but I will have to fix it. I think I'm going to add some pleats to the top front and a bias binding to the neckline so that it will stop slipping off my shoulders and down into the jacket sleeves.

The skirt:
It will never be worn with this jacket again. I wanted a sleeker look but started to panic at 8:30 pm last night when I realized that I hadn't started a bottom piece yet. I quickly constructed a TNT 4-gore skirt and wore it this morning. However, I don't really like this combo so I will NEVER wear the two pieces together again. I have a vanilla medium weight silk twill that will make a wonderful straight skirt for this outfit. I will use that, take my time and make a well-fitted, lined straight skirt that will add some ooommph to this outfit.

All in all I met my goal but if I was graded on my sewing techniques I would probably get a C+. On Project Runway I would not be eliminated but I wouldn't have won the challenge either. Though I don't think Jesus cared much...I mean I was clean, clothed and attended service with a pure heart so I guess that's what mattered most! *LOL*

Once the corrections are made to the pieces, I will give a full review of the process because I did do some interesting things during construction. And the jacket does have some great details that I would like to share.

On the PR reviews, one of the final questions is, "Would you make this garment again?" And my answer is I honestly don't know! I think the deadline definitely affected so much of the process, and the best thing I re-learned from this...Don't sew on a deadline because you just don't do your best work! *LOL*

Finally, one shot of the family ~ my daughters, my sister & my niece and nephew:

I hope you had a wonderful day with your family too!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Commercial Break

One of the other things that I had to accomplish this weekend was a simple 4-gore skirt for my youngest DD. She doesn't ask me to sew for her often and since this was an easy request I said yes!

I am using this fabric purchased from Metro Textiles last spring:

And I am making a version of this skirt:

This is my TNT skirt pattern that has been altered several times and is a workhorse pattern and garment in my own wardrobe. Every time I produce another one of these skirts, she admires it so this was my starting point.

And here is the final skirt:

It was a down and dirty sew because I still have soooooo much left to do on my Easter Suit that I am already thinking of alternative things to wear with the jacket! But that is stuff for another post!

Skirt stats:

3 yards of a mesh print from Textile Studios
3 yards of black rayon lining
TNT pattern altered to fit my daughter
1.5 yards of lingerie elastic

I used a serge hem finish on the bottom of the fashion fabric and straight stitched the lining fabric.

Well that's done now back to the Easter Suit!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Easter Suit - So Far

I am taking a break to eat so I thought I would let you know how far along I am...

First, a pic of the Vintage Vogue Jacket that I'm interpreting:

The lining and jacket shell are both almost complete, they just need to be sewn together!

The sleeves for the lining are done. However, I need to add the underlining of silk organza to the fashion fabric sleeves before setting them into the jacket. Then I will add the lining to the jacket.

I have followed most of the instructions from the Vintage Vogue pattern especially for the construction of the jacket fronts with the faux welt pockets.

Adding the silk organza underlining was part of my own plan...I wanted to give the jacket some stability but I wanted it to be lightweight like a cardigan. I do plan on wearing this outfit into spring!

Finally, I can't decide whether to make a dress using the striped silk as the top or two more pieces...the SW Mission Tank from the striped silk and a straight skirt from the wool crepe. Right now the dress is winning because it will take less time to construct than two additional pieces but we will see.

I am also struggling with the piping that I wanted to put around the jacket. When I was imagining the jacket, I could see it clearly. But now as I am working with the pieces it seems like it might be overwhelming, so I still need to make a decision about that.

Well, that's my update! Hopefully tomorrow I will be able to show you the completed suit! I will definitely have something finished to wear for Easter, because I am close enough and have enough time left to get it done! Thank Goodness! *LOL*

Thursday, March 20, 2008

And the winner is....

The Winner is Combination No. 1

with a final vote tally of 37 votes.

Combination No. 2 was a close second with 25 votes - I guess the blue fabric really resonated with quite a few people! Bringing up the rear, Combination No. 3 had 19 votes.

First I would like to thank EVERYONE who stopped by to vote! And a special thank-you to all the lurkers who voted! It was nice to see some names in the comments section that I hadn't seen in awhile and some new ones too!

Now, I know that you are all quivering with excitement wondering which combination I've chosen to work with and what it will become...but first a little backstory...*LOL* You didn't think I was gonna reveal all right away did you?

The base fabrics are wool crepes acquired from Fabric Mart during their last tremendous wool blow-out sale! The coordinating fabrics are silks and in one case a polyester acquired from Fabric Mart during the silk blow-out sale. And the reason that I am using the wool crepe as a base is because these fabrics will be used to make my Easter Suit.

Yes, Easter suit. I had originally planned on using the black/white border silk to make a dress but since the temps on Sunday are going to hover around 42 degrees Farenheit and we have a dinner reservation after church, I decided that I wanted to be chic yet comfortable.

I also decided that with all the fabric buying that has been going on here lately, everything had to come from my collections! Thus the digging around in the fabric collection, the fabric euphoria and the voting. So, my choice of fabric for my Easter Suit ~ Combination 1! Why???? I think that combination of fabrics will have a spring-like look without looking overly springy on a day that will still have a little of winter's chill knocking at the door. Everyone who picked that combination because of "The Look of Spring" were right on the money!

Now what pattern am I using? I am going to use my TNT jacket pattern and the instructions from the newly purchased Vintage pattern to make the suit.

Riding back and forth to work, I have been mentally working the construction details out in my head. I believe I have an idea of how I want to accomplish the look! So I'm locking myself into my sewing area until Saturday morning when I have to go have my hair done! I have several good take-out menus as well as a couple of bottles of Mountain Dew! *LOL* And I will crawl out and post updates over the next few days!

Again, thanks so much to everyone for taking the time to vote! I REALLY appreciated it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Ah the title gotcha didn't it! *LOL* I am a little giddy 'cause I've been digging around in my fabric collection and you know what a euphoric experience that can be!

But here's the thing...I really do want you to vote...for a color combination! I am not going to tell you what its going to be...I really just want your opinion on what color combination you like best. So here's a chance for you lurkers to come out, stand up and be counted!

First combo:

Second combo:

Third combo:

And nope, I am not going to tell you what the fabrics are or their end use...I just want your opinion on the color selections...

Okay, get set, vote! I will give you the tally on Thursday. Then I will let you know what color combination I'm leaning towards and what I'm planning on making! Now isn't this fun! Don't forget to VOTE!!!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Embellishing a Garment - Part III

Or..."The Rule of Three"

There was some discussion in the comments section of the prior embellishment posts about "The Fear of Overembellishment." I believe that if you follow "The Rule of Three" you won't ever have to worry about overembellishing a garment.

This rule simply stated is that a garment should not have more than three pieces of embellishment on paraphrase Coco Chanel, once dressed in all your finery, take off one piece of jewelry and you're ready...basically that's how the Rule of Three works...only three types/pieces of embellishment on a garment...I think of it as a more than three elements to the theme.

Now, if my garment has buttons on it, that is one element! And I can only add two more, plus the buttons must work with whatever trim or embellishment that I've chosen for the garment.

If you stick with the "Rule of Three," you can also use it effectively when fabric is the trim or embellishment detailing.

~This green linen border print - the border is the embellishment at the hem of the dress and on the tie.

~and this border print is on the sleeves, on the banding and in the tie

But see how a theme is developed and the garment tells a story. I first learned about the Rule of Three from the Ronda Chaney book, "Make It Your Own" which for a time was my embellishment bible! The Rule of Three is MY first rule of embellishing.

My second rule is subtle is so much more effective.
What I mean by this is that you should pick an embellishment that enhances your garment and does not detract from or overwhelm the design of the garment.

This Barrie Pace dress is a perfect example...

See how the subtle use of color in the piping adds to the dress. It punches up the original color without overshadowing it.

Or if I may, Marji is making an awesome jacket for her sister. The trim that she has picked for the garment enhances it and even the buttons play their part!

When embellishing a garment, think about what you are trying to say and use the trim to enhance the conversation...because isn't a wonderfully designed garment all about a great conversation between the fabric, the fit, the styling and the embellishment?!

My third rule of embellishment is - plan, plan, plan!
In the conceptual stages, I work out what trim or embellishments I am going to add to the garment. That way they are not afterthoughts but integral parts of the garment. It also makes sewing the trim on so much easier and the end result has a more professional and clean finish.

So how does someone who has a fear of embellishment begin?

Well this is something that is also addressed in Ronda's book. Her advice is to open your eyes, explore the world around you and t-r-y to look at things differently. She gives a series of examples, which I think of as exercises, that are designed to encourage you to think out of the box when making design decisions. I know to some of us this is intuitive and that others struggle with it but if you open yourself to the experience and are willing to go with the flow, I believe that you may surprise yourself with what you can imagine.

Personally, I love trims and embellishments on garments! I love the extra detail or flavor that it gives a all of the pieces have been carefully assembled and constructed to tell one amazing story. So I am always looking for opportunities to tell that story...and you can too!

The next embellishment post will be about MY technique for applying embellishment ~ well my technique for my two favorite types of embellishment...piping and binding. I will discuss what methods work for me and I will invite others to share their techniques...because I have found that there is more than one road to reach a destination! And maybe someone has found another path that we can all enjoy and spend the day exploring!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

What do you do with your scraps?

I finally found some time to sew this afternoon...and no the item is not completed...just cut out and I told myself to enjoy the journey and not rush to finish it! However, as I was cleaning off my sewing table prior to cutting the fabric out, I ran across a pile of scraps. Well not really scraps but sizeable pieces of fabric from my last couple of outfits. Now these scraps were all more than 1/2 a yard of fabric which presented me with a real quandry...
"What to do with the scraps?"

In the past, I have used various methods of storing scraps. Mostly because I was not the owner of as big a fabric collection as I have now and every piece of fabric had to be used or reused as it was. At one point I used an old hamper and folded scraps inside of it...then when I needed a small piece or wanted to embellish something, or make a binding I would go to the scrap hamper. In my prior abode, I used a rattan trunk that now resides in my bathroom holding extra bathroom supplies.

Lately, though, I just don't want to hold onto them...but I don't want to be wasteful either! So what do you do with your 1/2 yard or more of scraps?

Friday, March 14, 2008

This & that and a little vintage, too!

I know, I know I should be posting about embellishing a garment but after a long and tedious week at work and a weekend full of activities, all I want to do is SEW!

I have two grumble, grumbles...first whose bright idea was it to move Daylight Savings Time into March...I mean really...I liked having light early in the morning instead of at the end of the day... So now instead of going to the bus stop at 6:30 am in the kewl morning is still dark as I'm trudging across the field to the street to the bus stop...and I am coming home so late I still don't see the "extra" light at the end of the day...oh wait, I'm a liar, I see it from my office window! W-h-o-p-p-e-e!

And my second grumble is who moved Easter up so early...ummmm, the Easter activities are just coming up wayyyyy too fast for me! One, my Easter dress is still in flat fold fabric - thank goodness I have next Thursday and Friday off! And that means that all of my March weekends are taken up with family activities...I usually don't have to do these things until April!!!
grumble, grumble, grumble...

People I have the wanna sews BAD! I haven't sewn anything since the twinset back in February BEFORE I got sick! The "Menswear Lace" dress that was just a quickie fix project! And I have ideas...boy, do I have ideas swirling around in my head begging to be made into something! My finished garment total is just an abomination...7 items in three months...*sigh*

And the fabric and the patterns and the notions...they just keep on coming! 'Cause you know if I'm not sewing something...I'm buying something...its truly a shame! Well, at least I'm supporting the home sewing industry!

Lately I have been on a real vintage pattern kick...not because I want to make them but because the instructions and attention to detail in the garments is the look I am "longing" for...notice I said longing 'cause I ain't sewing! So, Lanetz Living was running a sale on patterns and I bought these:

This one in my actual size - cause I would love a bowtie dress - not sure about the sleeves and will definitely use my TNT dress pattern to "Make it Work!" (Karla that was for you!)

This one because I wanted to see how they constructed the pockets in the seams...

And ooooohhhh the instruction sheet on this one is full of interesting tidbits! I am going to use my TNT, Vogue 2285 - OOP, as my jacket pattern but all of the information in this pattern will be used to construct it...especially since I bought this pattern in a size 12 and that ain't no where near fitting my bodaciously plump body! *LOL* But since I was after the instructions - $3.00 for some great information was pennies in my eyes!

This final pattern was purchased for the detailing...

I just have to figure out how to work this detailing into an outfit for me...again not in my size (16.5) but the instruction sheet is worth its weight in gold.
While a lot of fabric has made its way to my home in the last several weeks, I won't bore you with pictures of beautiful and luscious fabrics...instead I will attempt to make some of them up! Yeah, right! *LOL*

So think of me kindly and with good thoughts over the next few weeks...'cause I don't know how much sewing I'm going to get done and hopefully I won't explode or implode from the drought!
Enjoy your sewing journeys...and I will get back to embellishing a garment, I promise!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Embellishing a Garment - Part II

I know I promised to talk about what I do and how I do it...but honestly I am just too dang tired to think right now. I should have written this post out earlier, and I meant too...but that day job it just keeps rearin' its ugly head!

Instead I'm going to answer a few questions and make an observation...

Observation first...

When you are from out-of-town and go into any of the trim shops in NYC, you should come with a plan or just to look! Because it is hard to explain to anyone who has never been here before how much trim, ribbons, appliques, buttons, etc. are in the stores...and it is overwhelming. Even when M&J was a tiny store, there was so much jammed in there, it was like a cacaphony of trim...all singing a different song! *LOL*

So if you are a first time visitor...come with an idea of what you would like and a price range! That last part ~ the price range is very important because most stores have something in every range and you will probably fall in love with the $45 per yard ribbon...because it is prominently displayed and looks so beautiful, etcera, etcera, etcera.

I have taken quite a few people through the district and the trim shops and most just lose their minds in the trim shops! So a plan is very helpful!

Next questions:

Nancy K asked, "What is your process on buying trim?"

The same one that I have on buying fabric...whatever speaks to me! *LOL* Seriously, though I do have a lot of trim that I bought because I saw it and I liked it...because I had an idea for it but it didn't come to fruition...because it inspired me...

Sometimes I do head to the district to buy trim especially for a pattern but that is rare. I mostly fish around in my trimmings drawer and see if there is something there that goes with what I'm seeing in my minds eye and there usually is. That's mostly because I don't buy trimmings with a plan, I just buy what I like.

Someone asked in a private email how I store trim?


And here are pics of my trimmings in my sewing armorie and on the back of my sewing table. I like the digging process...

Renee asked, "How do I use trim to dress up a plain garment?"

This is more of an inspired kinda question... y'know what inspires me. Usually when I plan the garment, I have a picture in my mind's eye...and sometimes the garment seems naked like it needs something, that's when I go looking for something to give it flavor! Or, I will have a great piece of trim that I just scored and I will want to add it to something so the project can get built around the decorative embellishment. That is definitely what happened with this Simplicity dress:

Or I can be inspired by a photo in a magazine or catalog or on the internet and want to interpret what I've seen...that's how this jacket and tank came to be..and the trim and buttons were totally from my stash!

Sometimes a color in the garment is crying out to be enhanced, so I will use trim to bring the color out, as in this dress:

But mostly, I see it, so I add it! Not really a primer in adding embellishment I know, but I will have more detailed stuff in the next post, I promise!!!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Embellishing a Garment - Part 1

The other day, I was having a conversation with a friend about how I use trim and my ability to see it in a garment. So I decided that maybe I would share some info with you about how I think about embellishing garments and how I execute the look.

First a little background:
I have always liked trimmings. I know that I sneaked a piece of lace from my Grandma's stash to add to one of my original Barbie creations at 11! And I vividly remember learning about piping and how to apply it to a garment as a teenager. Does anyone else remember those Wright packages of trimmings? I used those for the longest time...

Several people have said to me that they think I use trim so much and so effectively because it is readily available to me through local resources, i.e., NYC Garment District. And while it is true that I do have some amazing resources, Daytona Trimmings, M&J Trimmings and Tinsel Trading as well as a host of bead and button shops, I truly believe that if you don't have an idea and a plan for how to use the trim, resources won't matter.

This first post will be about embellishment/trim books. Now you know that I am a huge believer in owning the right sewing book to get the job done. When I checked my sewing library I found that I had 13 books on some form of to apply it, techniques, inspiration, etc. A few are quilting titles, a few are technique driven, and a couple are totally inspirational. Almost all of my vintage sewing books offer a section on embellishment and even though the topic basically comprises one chapter of the book, they are chockful of information!

The following are my favorite top five embellishment books, in no particular order...

Author: Stephanie Valley; Published by Taunton Press

As the title says it goes through embellishment techniques from A to Z. It has large clear pictures, a project rating (easy to advanced), a supply list and some sewing techniques. This is a great how-to book and since it has a spiral binding it will lay flat next to your sewing machine if you want to follow along.

2. Make it Your Own - Personalizing Patterns for Creative Design
Authors: Lori Bottom & Ronda Chaney; Published by Chilton Book Company
There is a tag line on the back of the book that says, "No more cookie-cutter clothes" and I think that is the essence of this book. You are shown through pattern alterations how to change a pattern up and embellish the original look. Now this is not a use-trim to get an effect book but a pattern alteration manual that uses the pattern and fabric to enhance your garment.

Authors: Lois Ericson, Linda Wakefield; self published
This book has a more Wearable Art feel but there are some interesting techniques in here that could be applied to a host of garment situations. I like this book because it is a really think outside the box book.

Authors: Kenneth King; published by Sterling Publishing Company

This book is full of techniques that Kenneth has perfected in his design line. There are pictures as well as illustrations with step by step instructions. Just a wonderful book by a master of embellishment.

Author: Jane Conlon; published by Taunton Press

This book concentrates on five types of embellishment - beading, threadwork, trims, applique and binding & pipings. There are great color photographs and clear illustrations with a lot of step by step instructions.

I highly recommend all of these books. After taking the time to read and ingest the information in these books, you will look at trims and embellishments in a completely different manner!

The other 8 books in my library are:

a. Embellishments - Adding Glamour to Garments by Linda Fry Kenzle

b. Fabulous Fabric Embellishments Elegant & Innovative Techniques by Mary Jo Hiney

c. Celtic Knotwork Designs by Sheila Sturrock

d. Weave It! Quilt It! Wear It! by Mary Anne Caplinger

e. Sew Easy Embellishments by Nancy Zieman

f. On the Surface by Wendy Hill

g. The Artful Ribbon by Candance Kling

h. The Art of Fabric Collage by Rosemary Eichorn

Now a few vintage book mentions:
Two are from Edna Bishop ~ Fashion Sewing by the Bishop Method & The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction - both have just one chapter on trimming the finished garment but the ideas that are shown are awe-inspiring, yet quite easy to accomplish...definitely not things you would see on today's clothing even the ones with a retro feel.

The last one is, Sewing Made Easy by Mary Lynch and Dorothy Sara. This book has three chapters on embellishing your clothing and again the embellishments just add so much to the finished garments.

Lastly a pretty new reference that I highly recommend is the latest issue of Sew Stylish Magazine that is all about embellishments! If you just want a taste of embellishing knowledge without a hefty investment, this is the way to go!

In my next post I will talk about when I choose to embellish a garment and some techniques I use.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

So this is how it started...

My day that is...

I finally wore this twinset to work with one of my four pairs of black wool crepe pants! I know you are wondering what took me so long to wear it but I really only think of this as a "Casual Friday" outfit. Today was going to be a low-key day and I thought I could get away with it! It must have been low-key because now that I think about it every female except the Accounting Manager came in today with a twinset on...but I digress...on with the rest of my day...

I get off the A Train at Columbus Circle and head towards the Universal Newsstand and Dunkin' Donuts - I love their hot chocolate! I was going to the newsstand because I still don't have a March BWOF in my hot little hands and the owner promised they would be in today - NOT! However, they did have this:

And yes Marji I have one for you too!

And this:

Ohmygosh, the designers entire collections are in here...this is the London version so tomorrow I will be looking for the American version along with the elusive March BWOF...

After satisfying my magazine thirst, I mosey on down to DD and then with a heavy magazine bag, a medium hot chocky...I am off to the day job. Halfway through the morning, this shows up in my personal email account:

"Hey Carolyn,
Have you ever seen white on white seersucker?"

Now have you ever received an email that totally changes the course of your day?! How could 8 little words have me taking orders and spending way more time than I should on my cellphone during my lunch hour at Metro Textiles buying fabric!

Yeap, those words set a ball in motion that rolled down a hill and took prisoners...and you know who you are...cause being a L-A-D-Y, (said in my best Martin Lawrence/Shanana voice!) I'm not naming names but lets just say that Kashi was more than thrilled to fill my fabric orders today!

All of this fabric bonding did make my afternoon fly and before I knew it I was crammed on the bus hurtling down the NJ Turnpike towards home. I finally got a chance to peruse the Marfy catalogue and wonders of wonders there is a plus size jacket included in the free patterns! One that I should definitely try to make for spring...I really need to lose that Marfy virginity...hehehehehe!

Off the bus and home....groceries haven't been delivered yet...dang! I really didn't want to help put them away...snap a few pics in the outfit because I did look good! *LOL* And remember that another friend has been B-U-G-G-I-N-G me for pics of the fabric I bought at Paron's last Saturday....

Oh yeah, true confession time, I was in the city last Saturday with my youngest DD 'cause sometimes she at Macy's Herald Square...and we stopped at Parons on 40th Street just long enough for her to send a coupla text messages and take 2 or 3 phone calls. I mean a teenager's social life does not stop for luscious fabrics...y'know what I mean!

So I bought 4 yards of this silk black/white border print - just because it is beautiful...

And I got this ltwt silk print to use as lining fabric...

Okay pics all snapped...description up and blogged...I'm off to watch Lost!

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

My Name is Carolyn

And this is what it means:

What Carolyn Means
You are very open. You communicate well, and you connect with other people easily.
You are a naturally creative person. Ideas just flow from your mind.
A true chameleon, you are many things at different points in your life. You are very adaptable.

You are usually the best at everything ... you strive for perfection.
You are confident, authoritative, and aggressive.
You have the classic "Type A" personality.

You are wild, crazy, and a huge rebel. You're always up to something.
You have a ton of energy, and most people can't handle you. You're very intense.
You definitely are a handful, and you're likely to get in trouble. But your kind of trouble is a lot of fun.

You are well rounded, with a complete perspective on life.
You are solid and dependable. You are loyal, and people can count on you.
At times, you can be a bit too serious. You tend to put too much pressure on yourself.

You are relaxed, chill, and very likely to go with the flow.
You are light hearted and accepting. You don't get worked up easily.
Well adjusted and incredibly happy, many people wonder what your secret to life is.

You are a free spirit, and you resent anyone who tries to fence you in.
You are unpredictable, adventurous, and always a little surprising.
You may miss out by not settling down, but you're too busy having fun to care.

You are very intuitive and wise. You understand the world better than most people.
You also have a very active imagination. You often get carried away with your thoughts.
You are prone to a little paranoia and jealousy. You sometimes go overboard in interpreting signals.

You know alot of this is very true! BTW, I got this from Gaylen's blog, "GMarie Sews!"

And for a very "tell the truth" moment - head over to Marji's blog - "Fiber Arts Afloat a Misnomer", she is sharing some be ready for it!

Tonight is the conclusion to Project Runway - FINALLY! Like we haven't already figured out who won!

And soon, I will have pics of the acquisitions...but I'm telling you I need to get down to the down and dirty and sew something real soon! *LOL*

Monday, March 03, 2008

I put my toe in...

Well I dipped my toes back into the sewing pool...

The Menswear Lace Dress has been hanging and patiently waiting its turn since January 22nd. Y'know back when we all agreed that those decidedly unattractive sleeves sucked. At the time I received some great suggestions on how I could fix the sleeves and I was very intrigued with the possibilities.

But you know how it is, something hangs around long enough and it is no longer intriguing it is just something hanging over your head waiting to be finished. So I kept looking at it yesterday evening and it really started to bug me...because the dress is basically finished. It is just lounging around not pulling its weight in my closet and I needed something new to wear.

The weather was suppose to be decent today (in the mid to upper 50's) and I really want to wear some dresses before the next artic wind blows through so this dress had to come off the wall! The fastest and easiest solution was to dump the that's what I did! They weren't working and I didn't want to lose the dress to more hang time, so I serged the lining and fashion fabric together, turned them down 5/8", pressed and topstitched.

Wow! The dress was getting closer to wearable by the minute! Some hemtape to finish off the hemline, a couple of hand stitches to secure the lining to the vent and four hours and two TV movies after I got the bright idea to finish the dress, I was stitching the hem down by hand.

So this is how I looked after 13 hours of wearing it!

Not bad right?! One more of the front pleat:

Let me give you a few stats:

TNT Dress Pattern
Tropical wool blend menswear plaid from Metro Textiles & brown lace from Fabric Mart, lining fabric from stash
22" taupe zipper
Rayon Hem tape

I made this one exactly like the grey version that I made earlier this year. The difference is the lace panel on the front. The panel was made by cutting a piece of lace slightly larger than the pleat. Then I tucked the lace under the pleat prior to sewing the pleat down. I used a triple stretch stitch to secure it and to allow the topstitching to show through. Though I think no one noticed the topstitching but me! At the bottom of the dress where the pleat falls open, I cut the lace close to the seam and left it alone...lace being lace, it doesn't need any finishing.

I wore it all day and the only thing I noticed was that the lining was sticking to my pantyhose...not something I would have been aware of during construction and nothing that a little Static Guard couldn't cure. Otherwise, it was a perfectly comfortable dress. Especially since I spent most of the afternoon bending and stretching as I located and moved files.

Now that I've finished a UFO, and gotten my toes wet, maybe I will sew something else! Stay Tuned because there is alot of fabric inspiration winging its way to me...hopefully something will beg me to morph it from its original shape into something new!

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March Remnants

Today is March 1st and last month I sewed exactly two pieces...TWO PIECES! I haven't sewn so few pieces in one month in is a little unsettling to realize how much "life" affected my passion!

1. Simplicity 3631
Yesterday, I wore the black version of Simplicity 3631 to work. I had a couple of meetings and wanted to look professional but comfortable...also it was Friday and our firm has a more "casual" dress code on Fridays...can I insert a "yeah right" here! *LOL*...and the dress/jumper was the perfect piece for the day.

However, it was the compliment that my 18 year old daughter gave me when I arrived home at 8:00 pm (Can I say that I am getting mighty tired of this...but that's another post for another time!) that really made my day! Whenever you can get a teenage daughter to exclaim that she loves an outfit, you know that you have really hit on something! Which brings me to my next point...

The Simplicity 3631 pattern is a wonderful, wonderful pattern.

I know that quite a few people have made the jacket - well there are 12 reviews for the jacket on PR and it made the #10 spot on The Best Patterns of 2007 article written by Diane Egleston - who is a friend of mine! And I have used the pattern quite effectively myself...a jacket, two dresses and a tank top have come from this pattern. I think of it fondly and probably will use it again for a spring/summer dress. I know some people have had problems with the dress but if you can get a copy works wonderfully in a host of situations.

2. Fabric Accumulation
Now we all know that I have fabric issues...and of course when I'm not sewing, fabric seems to follow me home like children followed after the Pied Piper when he tooted that d*mn horn! *LOL* And lately Fabric Mart just hasn't been doing it for me...I am a little disturbed about this but maybe it's time that I show some fabric love to other internet sources! *LOL* Which is what I did last night!

I have been in love with this chocolate embroidered cotton since Ann of Gorgeous Things first put it on the site...last night I succumbed. Did you hear that Cidell, I have my piece! 4 yards cause, I want a full skirted shirt dress like Summerset's for spring! Can't you just see the embroidery on the edge of the skirt and short sleeves? Oooolalala goodness! Ann is having a sale for her first year anniversary - 24% off almost everything until tomorrow - March 2nd - so hurry over and buy something...she has AMAZING pieces!

And I placed my first time ever order with Sawyer Brook I've been getting their emails for years, but for some reason I've never bought anything from them...anyway, last night I bought this silk. It's called Village Stroll and it resembles the lining I did for the Simplicity 3631 jacket which had such a great impact, so 5 yards of this is coming to me.

Again, it's a piece that's been haunting me for most of the month of February. I got it to use as lining in a jacket and for a simple shell top. It will be placed with the last 5 yard piece of black wool crepe that I bought from Fabric Mart a couple of months ago. Probably won't see the light of day until fall but it will make a complete set and it made me happy!

I also picked up two rayon pieces for spring/summer dresses....

......This black and white piece

And this kewl retro 60s type print...

3. Spring Sewing
I am ready to begin sewing for spring! I think I am going to ditch most of my "List of things to Sew for Fall/Winter" and start concentrating on spring. 'Cause you know Easter is in 22 days!

Have a wonderful sewing weekend!


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