Sunday, November 30, 2008

Vogue 8137 - A Beginning

Today I started working on the red doubleknit - constructing the jacket from Vogue 8137:

I pulled this from Vogue's website...this pattern is now out of print...but I have to tell you that if this was the cover of the pattern envelope I probably wouldn't have bought it! *LOL* My envelope has a totally different colorway and model on it!  ETA:  The website now shows the same picture that I've replaced with a copy of the pattern I have on-hand.

Nevertheless, I got the shell sewn together and the lining all cut out! I'm loving the painted fabric!!!

A pic of the jacket shell on Lulu:

I have plans next weekend so I don't know if I will get back to this anytime soon...hopefully before Christmas...but who knows because I still have Christmas sewing to do!!!

Also I need a little help...below is a picture of the buttons that I'm auditioning...please take a moment and tell me which ones you prefer. Let's call them 1-4, left to right, okay!

Have a great week!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

I Painted Today...

A couple of months ago, I purchased this very pretty wool doubleknit from Metro Textiles. LindseyT purchased some of the same fabric and made this amazing military jacket from it. After reading about her jacket and viewing the pretty pictures, that red doubleknit came roaring back into my mind...proclaiming quite loudly that IT wanted to be used this weekend.

Now I had plans to use the $1 a yd. fabric from Fabric Mart...purchased to make that great vintage pattern and some components this weekend. That was my plan right up until I saw that jacket...*sigh* But the red doubleknit was all I could think of all day long I gave in. I know what pattern I want to use with the fabric...I just didn't have any red lining material.

I thought since I was leaving work around 3 pm that I could swing by the garment district and pick up a couple of yards for this outfit...however, after a couple of hours at work, I just didn't feel like going to the garment district! So what to do, what to do! I remembered that I had a beautiful black and white paisley printed silk charmeuse in the collection...maybe that would work.

Well I got home and looked at the silk with the doubleknit...nah, no good! But if it had just a little bit of red in the background, it would be fantastic! The wheels started to turn...I went to check my notions stash...and I found my painting supplies. I have an entire collection of fabric paints, fabric markers and stamps from the Dana Marie Design Co. formerly known as Purrfection.

So here is the fabric in its "before" state:

And here it is in it's "after" state, hanging over the shower rod curing for its 24 hours before pressing and cutting:

Now how did I accomplish this? First I covered my cutting table with an old twin sheet so that none of the ink would add any MORE stains to my cutting table!!!

Second, I used two types of red paint from Pelle's, Bright Red and Magenta, and a fine point red fabric marker.

Originally I was going to use a stamp in some of the white areas and actually stamped the fabric 2 or 3 times near one end

But I didn't really like the effect. Just filling in the design with the two paints and the fabric marker worked so much better. It took about five-six hours to complete...because I would paint an area, allow it to take (approximately an hour) and then move it and work on another area. After the second move, I got into a rhythm knowing which pieces to fill in first and which ones last. It was a very soothing and relaxing process.

So now I have custom made lining fabric specially designed to go with the red doubleknit. I will move onto cutting out the pattern pieces and working on the garments...but if I don't get a single item finished this weekend, I feel like I have achieved something great. I made my own lining!

To Collect or Not to Collect

Even though I had a jam-packed day at work yesterday...I did have time to read a few setting up conference calls! Elaray's blogpost was about "Too Much Fabric." It is an interesting opinion on what constitutes too much fabric for one person.

This, of course, is the line that intrigued me, "With all due respect to stashers, stashing is a practice I just don't get." I believe this is the integral discourse between a fabric collector and someone who has just enough fabric on-hand to construct the next few projects. Now apologies to Elaray, because I'm not aiming this comment directly at you, it's just an observation, but as a fabric collector and someone who enjoys owning as much fabric as I always seems like a belittlement of my collecting ways...and I always feel like I have to justify something that gives me joy....hmmmmm!

Then I began to painters have this discussion with fellow painters? Hey dude why do you have like 18 shades of red paint? Don't you know if you have one tube of red, some black, pink, white and blue you can make any shade of red you want? Or do cooks have this conversation, Why do you have 7 different size spatulas? Can't one or two spatulas handle your flipping needs? Or seriously Shamos, do you need ALL of those spices? I can get by with my basic 10 and make many appetizing meals! Do you think those conversations occur?

Or are we the only community of artists that think that owning sooo much fabric - our basic creative medium - is guilt inducing? And why do the materials of your craft, give you pressure? Shouldn't these materials that you took time to purchase and store, inspire you and encourage you to new creative challenges? Or are we back to that age old argument that since sewing is a "women's craft" somehow we shouldn't expend too much of the family's hard earned money on it?!

Now, before you start slinging those arrows...I understand that we are in a global recession and for some buying a whole lot of fabric is just unrealistic! Or even if you are not the primary breadwinner in your home and you want to be respectful of that fact, or if the economy has really kicked you & your family's budget in the pants. But and here's my but people, if you have the means to stimulate the economy and keep our fabric retailers both online and in bricks 'n mortar shops buzzing, if you have the storage space *LOL*, if it does not adversely affect your home budget...and most importantly if it gives you pleasure, why can't you collect, store, amass to your heart's content?! Why is there a need to justify this to a non-collector?

As I stated previously, this is a constant conversation between stitchers...whether to collect or not? And no, I don't call it a stash...never a stash! To be perfectly honest, have I ever felt overwhelmed and challenged by my collection - Yes! Have I ever wondered that I've created a monstrosity that my children will have to deal with upon my demise - Yes! Have I ever called a retreat, hesitated or wondered if I should add to or continue to add to my collection - YES! However, all of that is overshadowed by the feelings of joy, inspiration, peacefulness, the hopes and dreams that my collection affords me, the ability to share it with friends and family and most importantly the fact that on almost any occasion I can walk into the closet and pull a piece to use that day without a journey to the fabric store.

Now I've written about this pheonomena before, "Are you ashamed of your fabric collection?" and I guess that periodically this discussion reappears in sewing land...but I would like to put it to rest this saying this...some people are happy coloring with a box of 8 Crayola crayons, but even as a small child, I always wanted the 100 box set of Crayola crayons with the special crayon sharpener!

So today's "Question of the Day" is: Did you color with the box of 8 Crayola Crayons or did you have a larger box? And do you believe that the size of the box you owned reflects your attitude towards purchasing fabric today?!

Have at it people's...I'm off to dye some fabric and it's all LindseyT's fault?! More on that later!!!!

Friday, November 28, 2008

I'm still here...

...just had to work all day Wednesday and most of today! We have a really big meeting on Monday so I ended up in the office...

Hopefully I will get some sewing in this weekend...however, yesterday before I went out to celebrate Turkey Day with my family...I spent a quite pleasurable morning strolling through my pattern collection. Why you ask? Because I need to find some jackets that aren't "boring" Corporate Wear and long enough to cover my "assets," yet trendy and chic. Yeah, I had to do a lot of strolling! *LOL*

I did end up with three piles of patterns:

Suit pieces - great jackets that will go with a pair of pants and a skirt so that once the weather warms back up and before spring officially sets in I can get a "new" look from the jacket. I found a few candidates (that met all of my needs) and ended up with about 8 patterns in this pile.

Dress pieces - this pile is comprised of several dresses and dresses with jackets that I would like to make. This is my back-up pile - you know the pile I will refer to when I get bored with my original 8.

The last pile is of odds and ends - things that caught my attention that I just couldn't bear the thought of putting them back into their respective drawers without at least giving me the opportunity to fawn over them now and again. These patterns actually have the least chance of being made into a garment but I'm just not ready to return them to their homes.

Now the thought of having 8 wonderful suits - complete with jacket/pants/skirt or dress components is very thrilling to me...I don't know how many of them I will get completed before the season ends...or if I will even change my mind midway through the process...but this is where I am headed the land of sleeve heads, full body interfacing, linings and much, much slower sewing! But this is what I need most right it's where my sewing journey is taking me...

I'm a little tired tonight...maybe it's cause that day job keeps intruding! *smile* But tomorrow morning I will pull one pattern out of the pile and begin working on my next adventure.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

10,000 hours revisited...

Now you didn't think I was going to let this rest, did you?! I did promise to give you my number and the comments were so interesting that I thought I would share some of them with you too. The post also spawned a post by, Shannon and a mention by Kristy! So I guess it's something that all of us have an opinion on...

Okay my number was around 13,300 hours. And its probably a little on the low side...I have been sewing since I was 11 years old and have never stopped...not during any period of my life haven't I sewn...okay there was a six month stretch while I was getting divorced but this is a person who bought a sewing machine while she was in college and set it up in her dorm room. I remember having an argument on New Year's Eve with my significant other because the dress I had made to wear over my 6 month pregnant body was just a little too sexy for him...oh really now? *LOL*

I made my wedding suit. I made maternity clothing for 2 of my 3 pregnancies. I made my DD's church dresses and outfits for school, school dance dresses, costumes for school and church plays, dance outfits and prom dresses. A sewing machine has been a constant in my life since the Christmas of my 11th year...I don't know what it's like not to own one!

I've said all that to say that even though I've sewn like forever, I don't consider myself an expert. I think there's quite a few things that I could learn to do better and some things that I can't do at all. I can fit my body because I've had years to practice on it...but I would be hesitant to fit someone else. I know how to handle certain types of fabrics because I've handled them for some things practice does make perfect. However, I'm like a fish out of water using something like leather...can we say new adventure?! *LOL*

"Do I think 10,000 hours equals expert?"

No, *shaking head* no, not at all! The reason that I posed the questions that I did was because I truly believe you have to have a talent to sew. There has to be an innate gift that lets you know what fabric goes with what pattern. When something, be it pattern or fabric, can be used in an atypical fashion and still result in an amazing garment. There has to be this intuitiveness working that shows up in your finished pieces...hours and hours of sewing can make you an excellent technician but not an expert. Now of course you are free to disagree with know I love a great conversation...but that's my point of view!

So let's take it to the comments and see what others have to say...

Marji wrote:
"But my initial reaction is, there has to be an inclination and talent or all the hours in the world will never yield the best. Michael Phelps may put in the hours (and we know he did), but he's also got the physiognomy and the talent."

I loved this one by Mel J.:
"Something my Dad likes to tell me comes to mind: "you can have ten years experience OR one years experience ten times over". If all the thousands of hours spent sewing do not include advanced skill building, you CAN'T get to an advanced level."

And Claire was adamant:
"I don't agree with her theory. There has to be talent. I surf a LOT of sewing blogs. I see people who put in hours on end sewing and their work is mediocre and their clothing is unflattering. Then there are those who don't have a ton of hours to invest but the quality of their work when they do sew is impressive - what I'd call expert - and they really have that ability to put out fine craftsmanship. Perseverance, per se, is honorable, but it doesn't make someone a skilled seamstress or designer. There has to be an eye for details, construction, as well as composition and silhouette. I've been sewing for years, but I would never consider myself an expert."

Wendy wrote:
"Dressmaking is a craft that is definitely improved by technique...and technique can really only be mastered by practice, practice, practice, practice."

NancyK said:
"Sewing many hours certainly helps, but if you don't push your boundaries, no matter how many hours you sew isn't going to get you to that expert level, much less the best of the best."

That's definitely a consensus right! How about some other points of view:

Myra says:
"I think it is both. Time invested and increasing the skills as you invest time is one side, but you have to have an "eye" for it, too, so you enjoy it, appreciate it and visualize the finished product before you begin."

Sewsy contributed:
"So, where do I stand on this "work hours in equals a mastery of a particular endeavor?" Well, yes and no. There can be arguments offered up both ways. It depends on the person, I feel, more than the amount of hours."

Finally Athena added:
"It's never one end of the spectrum or the other. You need both experience and talent to be outstanding in any craft. As everyone who commented before has said. How do you add talent and a good eye to a math equation?"

Then there were two comments that I loved...just loved!

Linda said:
"Ah, the old quality time versus quantity time argument."

And Ann Rowley wrote:
"I’m a bit late to this party – but what an interesting topic, and what erudite replies!"

That is so Ann, but she goes on to say...
"I was brought up, by perfectionist parents, with the mantra “practice makes perfect” ringing in my ears. But not only do you need to practice; you need to love doing it, even be obsessive about it. Many times over the years I’ve sewn when I really should have been doing something else. And yes, I’ve done the hours – and some – but am rarely 100% satisfied with what I achieve; although I admit having considerable skills. I hope to go on learning, practicing and striving for that always elusive “best”."

Since Ann is one of my sewing sheros...I'm going to end there! But there were 31 well thought out and well expressed (erudite indeed!) comments. If you haven't had a chance to peruse them, scroll back a few posts and take a moment to read them!

To everyone who left a comment...thank you so much for being willing to share your opinions with all of us! It was greatly appreciated!

More later!!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I bought it!

Yes, I won my eBay auction...and this pattern will begin it's journey to me sometime this week!

I saw this pattern on either Lanetz Living or Out of the Ashes several months ago but it was in a smaller size. I really like the v-neckline and the way the top wraps. I also like the seaming detail in the skirt. So I searched it out on eBay and saved the search when nothing came up. I am not sure if the waistline will work for me...heck, I need to make one of the vintage patterns that I already own with this type of waistline to make sure...but I liked the design and it came to a grand total of $2.74 with shipping & handling so I won't be out much...and I will have loads of design inspiration.

So the pledge is broken...however, I do plan on staying away from Big 4 pattern sales until after January 1, 2009. Those patterns have a longer shelf life than an eBay one does and to tell the truth, I've only seen a few that I've liked...and not enough to break the pledge.

Since I've had such great success with dresses this year, and I have a pretty deep and interesting plus size dress vintage pattern collection, I know that I want to make quite a few of them next spring and summer...cause there is nothing like a good dress!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

An Interpretation of "The Dior Dress"

Some stats:

2.5 yards of a midweight poly blend tweedy fabric from Timmel Fabrics
(This is one of the few pieces that I have left from this amazing fabric resource - that I miss so much!)


22" black zipper
black rayon seam tape
12 ~ 5/8" covered buttons
1/2" shoulder pads
yards and yards of black satin bias tape

(I bought 25 yards of it from Daytona Trimmings when I started the dress and the clerk graciously rolled it onto a spindle for I have no idea how much is left! But there is plenty for future projects.)

I have wanted to make an interpretation of this dress since I first saw it last summer. But as with all things, I want to sew more things than I actually have time for and this had to wait it's turn in the rotation. The dress is from Christian Dior's Fall '08 Collection. While it has been pictured in a number of upscale magazines and notably the Roosevelt Mall catalog (thanks LindseyT for sharing it with me!), I think the parts of the dress that intrigued me were the binding and the buttons.

So those are the elements that I primarily feature in my version of the dress. I planned on using a version of the black/white plaid fabric that the original is constructed from, but the piece in my fabric collection was too small. It's a skirt sized length and when looking around the closet for an alternative, my eye fell upon the Timmel piece. I thought it'd be okay because it would capture the essence of the black/white feel without duplicating it.

To me the most distinctive part of the dress, besides all of that binding and the matching buttons, is the pleat in the front. And, that's what made this dress a shoo-in for me to make...see since the Gray Flannel Dress and the Menswear Lace Dress have an inverted pleat on the front...I knew that I already had an altered pattern to use to make another version of the dress.

The actual pleat was made by laying the dress front pattern piece 3 inches from the center front seam. I measured it in several places from the top to the bottom of the pattern - insuring that it was a true 3 inches all the way down. Then I made 2 slight notches to the top and bottom of the pleat. I used those cut notches as guides to folding the 2 front pieces together. I pinned the pleats flat and then ironed them down.

A regular zipper was used for the back of the dress. Yes, I know I'm suppose to be using invisible zippers applications, but there were so many elements of the dress that I wanted to concentrate on more, that I went with my old reliable zipper insertion method. The only thing I did do differently was that I interfaced the back seams with 5/8" of a fusible knit interfacing to give that seam some stability. The fabric is very drapey and I didn't want a wavy zipper.

The binding was added after that pleats were made. Nothing fancy...just fold over, press the binding edges together and then sew it onto the pleat front. I sewed it as close to the edge of the binding as possible while catching both the back and front of the binding. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was so concerned about making sure that the binding went around the neckline correctly that I forgot to include a lining in the dress. Now that it's gotten a little colder (heck who am I kidding ALOT colder) I probably could use that polyester charmeuse lining I was going to add to the dress to give it a little more heft and warmth! But what's done is done and I will wear it with a full slip...yeap, I must be one of the few women left in America in possession of a full slip! *LOL*

The buttons were made from 5/8" covered button shells. The satin bias binding was folded open and pressed flat to use as the fabric cover. This choice was made so that the binding and the buttons were from the exact same fabric. The buttons were stitched through all of the layers of the pleat to keep the pleat laying flat. Just like the designer original, the pleat falls open from the last button to the bottom of the dress.

The dress has a 1.5" hem. Black rayon seam tape was added to the hem and then the bias binding was sewn on the bottom of the hem. The top of the hem was handstitched down. I originally debated about having just the hem with the bias binding but in an effort to make this "the dress that I just wouldn't finish" I added the extra step...though I'm actually glad now that I did!

Since I found no detailed views of the back of the dress, I used the version of my TNT dress there is a small slit opening...again since this is an interpretation I felt free to free-style all I wanted.

The tie, the tie, the tie *sigh* I gave it up! There was no way to add it to the sewing it down or by using it as an actual tie that didn't either make me look like a stuffed potato or like I was wearing a maternity dress. That is so not the reason for copying designer gear, therefore, the tie had to go! Which means that I made another version of a straight dress...and I did so because this type of dress works well on my figure. It gives me a very professional corporate look without showing any lumps, bumps or wrinkles that my body naturally has...and it gives a slimming effect...long, tall and straight which I also like...

So this is dress no. 15 for the year...I just realized that I've made a dress for every month plus a few extra...not bad! I have some separates to work on for the Thanksgiving Break and then I will move onto pantsuits...just have to find some jacket patterns I like!!!

BTW, thanks to everyone who offered cold weather wearing solutions for dresses...but tights are out...not warm enough in below 20 degree weather when I'm standing at the bus stop at 6:30 am and the wind is blowing up my coat. I don't do boots because my calves measure 21" around (yes, Marji I'm telling the true measurement!) so besides finding fashionable ones with a wide enough shaft, they also make my legs feel like they are encased in cement...and the final suggestion of wearing pants underneath my dress and changing just boggles me! Why would I wear pants beneath a dress when I could make a wonderful pantsuit and not have to change when I get to work? Oh and I do own two very long winter coats for those cold windy mornings...

Have a great week everyone...more later!

Friday, November 21, 2008

So is it cheating?

...if I put a bid on and purchase a pattern on eBay that I've been looking at for several months? I mean technically I could lose the bid right? Then again I could win and that would mean that I would miss the mark 38 days short of my goal...

So is it cheating?

It's the weekend so I will finish up my Dior dress but I have to tell you I'm quickly losing interest in it due to the horribly cold weather we are having here in the NY Metro Area. One walk down 57th Street with the wind blowing, my coat flapping and my knees quivering quickly reminded me of why I DON'T wear dresses in the winter...

Which upon reflection has made me remarkably sad. I really wanted to figure out a way to continue to wear them but I'm a wimp. The cold beats me every time...I just DON'T like to be cold! Cuteness goes out the goes out the window...all I want is a Dunkin Donuts medium hot chocolate in my gloved hand and as much wool around me as my body can stand to chase the cold away...

So I'm putting the pretty lightweight skirt/dress suit wools away and pulling out the heavy duty wools purchased for pantsuit making...cause I'm thinking that its gonna be a cold, cold winter and this girl better be prepared.

That's it for tonight...more later!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

What are you?

Erin, who authors the blog, "A Dress A Day" had an interesting post today complete with a math equation! Her post is called, "10,000 Hours" and it's about what makes you the best of the best in your field.

She says,
"but here is the two-minute takeaway: when we look at people who are at the top of their game, it's not so much that they are fantastically talented -- it's more that they put in the time. How much time? About ten thousand hours of time, if you want to be the best of the best. (If you want to be merely good, shoot for 8,000 hours, and if you're okay with being just north of mediocre, 4,000 hours.)"

And she gives a formula:

Number of hours you sew a month x 12 months x the number of years you've been sewing equals _____________ hours. This number then designates whether you are an expert (best of the best), good or mediocre. Check her post out! Read it for yourself and then figure out where you are in the sewing game. I have a number because you know I did the math right away...and I'm not sure I agree with it! *LOL* But do the math and then let me know what you think!

So the question of the day is: Are you the best of the best in this craft? Are you just good enough? Or are you mediocre and working on improving? And finally, do you believe this theory to be justified? Can you really be the best of the best without some talent, or is it just about the time put into the process? Talk back to me...I really want to know what you think!

It is an intriguing thought, isn't it?! And maybe I will share my answer later this week!

Monday, November 17, 2008

So You Wanna Know...

...which dress is my favorite?

Well, I don't have just one! *LOL* And as I look at the poses, I realize that all of them look good but all of them don't wear well!

By season - by two favorites are:
(drumroll pleese!!!)

spring/summer ~ The 60's Mod Border Print Dress

fall/winter ~ The Menswear Lace Dress

Least worn dress ~ Vintage Vogue 5265 (because it's too fiddly!)

Otherwise all of the dresses were worn quite a bit, even mixed in with the dresses that I wore last year. I have to tell you one thing I learned from all the dress-making this year...I much prefer to wear a dress than anything else! I just wish I could wear them all year long!

Now to some questions:
Allyn asked: "Is there a type of thread that you typically use in your sewing projects?"
Yes, I use the Gutterman thread from Atlanta Thread and Supply.

From ATL's website:
"This thread is ideal for all weights of fabrics from ultra lightweight to heavy coat material. May be used on both woven and knitted materials - synthetic and cotton. Perfect for all ladies', men's and children's outerwear, lingerie, knitwear, shirts, blouses, swimwear and household textiles. Guaranteed knot free. Long staple technology gives the most trouble free sewing."

Charlene asked: "If I zigzag finish or serger finish?"
Charlene my pieces are finished on the serger. I've had one so long now that I can't imagine doing without one! To me it's like the have one in your kitchen and primarily use it to warm things up but most people can't even imagine not having one anymore. That's my serger! I could clean finish the seams on a garment a variety of ways (and used them when I didn't have a serger) but I don't want to go back there! *smile*

Emily inquired about my bulk purchasing process! Well Emily I actually wrote a post about it in February 2007 called, "It's Time to Restock!" The post talks about what I restock, from where and why! Hope this helps...

Now I know you're wondering about The Dior Dress and why no post on the weekend...well, every once in awhile I must leave my sewing machine and participate in family activities. This last weekend was one of those weekends. Because of that, I am no further along on The Dior Dress but hopefully will get it finished this weekend!

So that's all I've got...more later!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dress-polozza!!! (Picture Heavy!)

I read Marji's comment in the comments section and thought I've been meaning to write a post about the dresses I've made this was like she was channeling my thoughts so here are the comments that inspired this picture heavy, super heavy duty linked post...

"I was just thinking the other day that you must be getting close to your annual order. so I want to know, how much of that thread and how many of those zippers that all got delivered last February have you used? And, while you're counting, how many dresses have you made this year?"

First ~ I will address the annual order question...
I normally make my annual bulk orders (thread, interfacing, silk organza, zippers, elastic, even pins and needles) in late January/early February. I ordered ALOT this I won't be replacing much in 2009! Now things like zippers and shoulder pads get refilled several times during the year...however, Atlanta Thread and Supply, where I order my thread from had a great sale at the beginning of the year and I went thread crazy...if I have to refill anything it will be basic black, white and brown.

Next ~ I have made 14 dresses so far this year! I'm not sure...I guess it seems like a lot but then for some reason I thought I had made 15...oh well...

1. Navy Blue Ribbed Dress - from TNT pattern

2. The Simplicity 3631 Dress in Black Wool Crepe

3. Gray Flannel Pleated Front Dress - from TNT Dress Pattern

4. Menswear Lace Dress - from TNT Pattern

6. New Look 6779

7. The Optical Illusion - from TNT dress pattern

8. The Contest Dress from the June Capsule Contest Wardrobe - dress from TNT pattern

9. Vintage Vogue 5265 - copyright 1961

11. Vintage Simplicity 8160 - copyright 1968 - 60's Mod Border Print Dress

12. Butterick 5399 - Inspired by Michael Kors Spring '08

Number 15 is The Dior Dress...I have another 2 or 3 I would like to make before the year is over...and Marji, I wish I could sew way more than I actually do...but in the great Catch-22 where would I wear all of these clothes that I made?! *LOL*

If you want to see more pics of the construction of the dresses, you can see them all in my 2008 Dresses Flickr Album.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Taking Care of Some Business

I've noticed that there have been quite a few questions left so I thought I would take a moment tonight and answer them...

But first can I thank you all for leaving such wonderful and thoughtful comments regarding the Blue Brocade Wool Crepe Dress, the Ralph Rucci inspired dress and the Argyle Cardigan. It is such an affirmation to flip into my blog in the mornings and read your compliments especially since they come from people who love the art of sewing as much as I do! So thank you!

Next - NancyK you deserve a prize...cause you asked the most questions. So here are the answer to your questions:

1. Is the lining stretch woven or knit? (From the Retail Therapy Post)
It's a stretch woven lining - rayon/lycra blend. Kashi had it in nude and black. I just liked the hand of the nude better.

2. Am I participating in the Stitcher's Guild SWAP this year?
Nope! I don't really have a reason, just don't feel like it!

3. How do you make buttonholes in knits? Do you cord them? (From the twinset post)
I have several options on my sewing machine for making buttonholes but I use the standard buttonhole with a bartack on either end. I don't use a special needle and I don't use the looser "knit" buttonhole that my machine offers. However, my trick is to put a piece of pattern paper behind the buttonholes before I go to the machine. After I've figured out where I want the buttonholes to go, I just pin a thin strip of pattern paper to the back. The paper gives the sewing machine's feed dogs traction and I get some of the best buttonholes that way. Here's a pic to show you what it looks like before it heads to the sewing machine. Oh and I do trim that paper down first!

Sherril asked, "If the black white paisley is a knit or a twill?
And Alex asked, "If it was a cotton knit?"
Both questions are from the Retail Therapy Post - so I will answer them together. It is a medium weight rayon/lycra knit.

Towanda wanted to know if she could come over and play in my closet?
Yeah sure...I will give you access to the wardrobe closet and the fabric collection! When do you want to come over?! You know you really don't live that far from me! *smile*

Vicki asked about handstitching the lining in on the Dior Dress?
Well I guess I could do that and I even considered that option but my DD looked at me and said why? You own a slip! I do so I'm going to use it...

Summerset asked if I had shoes and accessories for the Dior Dress?
Now c'mon know me better than that! You know the shoes are waiting for the dress to be completed. As for accessories, I am only wearing earrings and a bracelet because there is so much going on with the front of the dress!

Sherril asked, how did I lose such a cute dress? And then made a comment about how much clothing I had...
Well, the point of cleaning out the closet was so that I could "see" everything that I had in was getting pretty tight in there! And as for the observation about too many clothes, gurl please! I LIVE for too many clothes! ROTFLOL! Ummm, that's the whole reason I I can have as many options and as much stuff as I please! Plus, what the heck would I do with the fabric closet if I didn't continue to sew clothing? *LOL*

Cindy asked, "Do you ever use old patterns and restyle them to your designs?"
Isn't that Tried and True Patterns! *LOL*

Cindy also asked, "Would you ever make any of your own patterns?"
The closest I've come to making my own patterns is slicing and dicing my TNT's! That's about all the patternmaking I can handle! I am in awe of people who use the Japanese Pattern Books or who can draft from scratch...that just ain't me!

Finally Mel asked about buying patterns and saving money from the "nameless" craft store...
Okay, hell would freeze over and I would NEVER sew again if I had to go into that store to shop! We have had a serious and irreconcilable falling out and my feet will never darken their doorstep again! Plus by purchasing online from the pattern companies, I am giving them my dollars directly and keeping them in business. That's my story and I'm sticking with it!

I would like to give a shout-out to all of the new posters and some of those who have come out of lurkdom - specifically Crystal, Alex in Canada and Brocadegoddess! If I didn't name you and you have just recently posted, please forgive me and drop me another comment! I would like to thank you all from coming back and reading my ramblings!!!!

Lastly Glenda offered me some vintage patterns and they showed up Monday evening.

Thank you so much for your generousity and I will let you know when I use them!

Okay, I think that's everything...tomorrow is it's almost Friday and the weekend and sewing! Yes!!!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Inspired by Ralph Rucci

I love Ralph Rucci designs...I've loved Ralph Rucci for quite some time...last year I even got to see the Ralph Rucci exhibit at FIT! Talk about a day of sheer joy...

So what do I like about his designs...they are artistic & creative, unusual & unique but infinitely wearable.

I especially loved this one from the Kent State exhibit:

Black double-faced wool crepe "Trellis" dress
with printed silk chiffon lining and stole
Chado Ralph Rucci, Haute Couture fall/winter,
2004 Collection of Ralph Rucci

And at one point, I had planned to felt some wool crepe strips and attempt my own version of it...but then I found this brown lacy knit fabric from Lucy's Fabrics - paired it with this green apple silk print from Fabric Mart...and I had my own version of a Ralph Rucci design...

Yeah, I'm a copier from way back, lol! I made this dress in 2006 (I think) found it during the great closet clean-out. It was shoved waaayyyy in the back of the closet and I had forgotten how cute it looks. So I've dusted it off and brought it back...will wear it to work this week with a brown cardigan and a killer necklace!

And Summerset, I'm borrowing your parting shot ~ how I wore the argyle cardigan to work today:

p.p.s: Sherrill, thanks for your comment on the Dior Dress! You've sent my mind whirling and in the words of Tim Gunn, I've got to "make it work!" Thanks!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

The Dior Dress ~ so far...

It's been a day full of highs and lows...

The dress is almost finished and I'm happy with some parts of it and dissatisfied with others. I was so preoccupied with getting the binding on the neckline correctly that I sewed it down then realized I hadn't added the lining...and it took so much effort to get the binding on correctly that I just couldn't bear the thought of unpicking the dress is unlined.

I also don't think the belt is going to work...unless I come up with another idea. I'm tired now so I know it's time to stop, clean up and get ready for work tomorrow.

Here's a sneak peek...I know you want to see how I'm doing so far...

There's plenty of finishing work left to do...more buttons need to be sewn on the dress...the hook and eye added to the back neckline...shoulder pads sewn in...hem cut and bound...and of course, the major decision, "What to do about the belt?"

I'm not sure this is going to end up being a good might just end up being a nice work dress...*sigh*

A Pattern Story

No, this is NOT about how I broke my No Patterns Until January 1st Pledge! Rather this brief note is about some wonderful customer service I received.

Before I got lost in my pattern collection and pledged no more pattern buying for 70 days, I went through a little something with Simplicity Patterns. As most of you who read along faithfully know, I only purchase patterns online. I don't have a Hancocks or Hobby Lobby near me, the fabric stores in NYC have pretty much ceased carrying pattern lines, and I do not frequent that other crafts retailer which shall remain nameless...

See sometime around September 12th, I was surfing the internet sewing sites and spied this New Look pattern 6835:

It's a cute dress/jacket combo that would work well for my corporate I'm finally getting used seeing those puffy sleeves on the jackets and probably should make just ONE before the trend disappears...but I digress...

So I purchase it along with Simplicity 2868:

S2868 was purchased to knock off a Michael Kors jacket - I mean if you're interested! *LOL*

The Simplicity pattern shows up but not the New Look one. So I search my email box thinking I must have received an email - NO email! I am a little annoyed but I write a nice email to the company asking what's up with the New Look pattern. No reply...and no reply 2 weeks later?! Hmmmm, this has never happened to me before. One of the things I love about ordering from Simplicity online is the free shipping and the fast service...sooo before I put them on blast...writing a blog post about their poor customer service...I decide to send one more email.

For this email, I sent it to every email address I could find on Simplicity's site...and I get a return phone call from Deborah Wright, Customer Service Rep extraordinare, apologizing profusely explaining that she sent me 2 emails and doesn't know what happened to them...(They ended up in my spam mailbox. I must have deleted one and found the other after our conversation.) She explained that the pattern sold out and they were waiting for reprints, that she would personally send it out as soon as it returned to production.

I waited patiently for 2 more weeks, because who am I kidding, I know I'm not using the pattern right away! *LOL* No pattern, no email! So I send Deborah another email which I think she replied to before I clicked out of my Yahoo account! *LOL* She let me know that the pattern was arriving shortly...and it did 2 days later!

So why am I writing about this if it was resolved to my satisfaction with minimum drama? Because Deborah Wright, Customer Service Rep extraordinare, refunded me the price of the pattern on October 30th. And she sent me a copy of the transaction in the however, ended up being read in the post-election glow! So I just noticed it and wanted to give a shout out to her and Simplicity for having the good sense to hire an amazing Customer Service Rep.

If you are EVER worried about ordering patterns online...please dive right in and use Simplicity's online site! They offer the best customer service ever!!!!

...and that's my pattern story!...oh, and I am still pattern-free...just 52 more days to go!!!

Saturday, November 08, 2008

A Long Line of Burda 8869's

Burda 8869 - a twinset consisting of a v-neck cardigan with long sleeves & front pockets, and a short sleeve t-shirt, sizes 18-34.

I love this pattern! I've had it in my pattern collection for approximately ten years. I found it after trying a couple of Big 4 twinset patterns that just did not work for me. I started using it when I was working in a business casual atmosphere. After finally deciding that my work style would be twinsets and bottoms (pants/skirts), this pattern became a star because it helped me to create a "look" that worked well for my body type yet gave me a polished and professional look for any job occasion.

Of course, my journey to a well-fitted TNT Pattern took me through several renditions of Burda 8869, as well as quite a few interesting experiments with various knits. Upon getting a fit that I liked and learning quite a bit about knit fabrics, I started to play with the pattern. Over the years I've used this pattern in both woven and knit fabrics.

So here is the baker's dozen of knit twinsets presently in my wardrobe:

And here are the woven choices:

All of this leads me to my latest incarnation ~ The Argyle Cardigan.

I know in the Fashion Shoot post I said that I was going to use fur hooks and eyes as closures on the cardigan...but I never made it to Pacific Trimmings. Since I'm ready to move on, I looked through the button collection and found a button that I believe works well with this garment:

I know that this won't be the last version of this cardigan/twinset I make since this is one of my Top Ten TNT Patterns, so I will leave you with some stats for this one.

Argyle fabric is a poly knit blend from
Black fabric is a poly knit specifically "Sophia" from

5 black buttons

Construction/Design Techniques:
The construction was the same on this cardigan except that I omitted the front band. To make sure that the garment still fit, I added 2" to the front pieces and 2" to the neck of the back piece. After sewing the shell together - shoulder and side seams - I fused a 1" strip of fusible tricot knit interfacing to the edge of the cardigan front and back neck edge. Then I folded over the fused section and using a twin needle stitched it down. I used the twin needle to simulate the banded edge that is normally on the cardigan. Otherwise the cardigan is sewn exactly the same way as the pattern instructions say and made to look like the inspiration sweater from JCrew.

As always this cardigan will be a hard-working member of my wardrobe...if you can find a copy of Burda 8869, I highly recommend that you purchase it! More pictures of my journey with this pattern can be seen in my Flickr Album.

Hope you are having a wonderful sewing weekend. Hopefully tomorrow I will have pics to share of "The Dior Dress"

Friday, November 07, 2008

Blue Brocade Wool Crepe Dress & Jacket

...a review...

First, the patterns used for both of these garments are from my TNT pile. Chosen because fitting challenges are at a minimum and they belong to the list of patterns that I would take with me anytime, anywhere, anyplace! Patterns that are the cornerstone of my sewing.

Dress: Butterick 5932 (OOP)
Cardigan: Burda 8869 (OOP)

3.5 yards of cadet blue/periwinkle blue worsted wool crepe from Fabric Mart
(Can't make up my mind what color to call it!)

1.5 yards "Cheval" fabric from Sawyer Brook
(I think of it as a brocade but it is probably more like a jacquard)

4 yards of a silky black polyester lining from Ebad Fabrics

22" periwinkle (the pkg called it that) blue zipper
1/4" shoulder pads

Construction Techniques:
Since both patterns are TNT there were no fitting challenges...however, there were several design changes:

The Dress:

~I added homemade bias binding to the neckline of the dress.

~I also added lace to the lining's hem. I wanted to make the lining look like a slip attached to the inside of the dress instead of a typical lining. I really enjoy this look in my garments and will definitely use this technique again in future garments.

The lace on the hem of this lining was previously used in this outfit. I hand-dyed it and even though the black is a little softer now than the original, I think it works well here.

Whenever I want a well-fitted, fashionable dress or a great starting point to make my "interpretation" of, or even some crazy idea that I dreamed up while traveling back and forth to NYC, this is my jump-off pattern! It never disappoints!

The Cardigan:

How many ways and out of how many different fabrics can I make this pattern?

As many as I want! *LOL*

I started with this pattern because it fits, it met my needs and because I can go buck wild with it doing whatever and still end up with an amazing garment! This time I took the journey using a woven fabric instead of a knit.

Design Changes:

~Normally I cut the back of the cardigan with a center back seam but because I wanted to preserve the design of and showcase the fabric, the back was cut on the fold.

~The front banding and sleeve hem bands were also cut from the pattern fabric to bring some of the design detailing to the front.

~To make allowance for the fact that the pattern calls for a knit - the seam on the sleeve was sewn with a 1/4" seam instead of a 5/8" seam. Thankfully that was all the extra space I needed for my bodacious arm flaps.

~Finally the body of the jacket is lined so that it will slide off and on easily. This was accomplished by cutting the front and back pattern pieces from lining, then sewing them together to form a shell. The shell was basted to the body of the fashion fabric, the band was attached to cover them and then hemmed together as one piece.

I believe I accomplished my make a beautiful outfit for work that fits into my company's corporate work environment yet allows me to express some of my own creativity. While the jacket's back doesn't blast "artistic" it isn't the norm and it does add a little spice. I can't wait to wear it to work!


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