Monday, August 31, 2009
A lunchtime excursion
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Friday, August 28, 2009
Being the comment ho that I am, it is always amazing to me that days later someone is still commenting on a post. It is heartwarming to realize that you care as much about something I said, wrote and made as much as I do.
But most especially I want to give thanks to both Gigi and Colleen for taking the time to write such informative blog posts...for so willingly sharing of their vast sewing knowledge and who without hesitation agreed to write these posts!
Thanks to everyone who let me know that Archie is marrying Veronica and making the biggest mistake of his life! Yeah, that marriage won't last...sort of like how Barbie finally got wise to Ken! *LOL* Hang in there Betty, your turn is coming!
I'm having dinner this evening with some sewing friends...and I can't wait!
(ETA - Dinner will have to wait! Woke up this morning feeling terrible...so I'm home today! I hope you guys will forgive me!)
As always...more later!!!
Thursday, August 27, 2009
New Sewists Thursdays - A Primer on Fit!
I make my living fitting bodies. I’ve been doing it in some form or another for almost my entire life time. My skills have evolved into a paycheck coupled with international travel for companies that I’m sure you know of and most likely own a piece of clothing or lingerie by one of them. In short, I’m good at what I do – but here’s the secret -- people overestimate the skills needed to achieve a good fit.
Many home sewists grow to fear it, they leave fashion sewing and start crafting, or quilting or making home dec items because the ever elusive ‘fitting’ is too difficult. I’m here to tell you – it isn’t!
I’ve known Carolyn for probably 15 years and we have many shared fun moments around our families and our sewing machines. If you bribe me with chocolate, I’ll tell you how she used to fit garments before we met and I gently guided her in a more suitable direction.
Carolyn asked me to share some very general points in a first of several blog posts on what constitutes good fit and some tips to achieve it. Obviously I can’t cover everything in a blog format, but I’m hoping you can take away a few things that will enhance your future projects.
Perfect fit, does not always give you the most flattering garment. The idea is to flatter your figure, not just fit it. I’m a plus sized woman, I can make any garment for my body, but I’m steering clear of the bikinis and micromini skirts. . . they don’t flatter me.
More than Measurements:
Think of this for a moment. You are a bird, sitting in a tree, looking down on a snowman that someone built below you. What you see from above is three circles, one inside the other, perfectly nested inside each other.
If you took the measurements of the largest point around each section, you could put pencil to paper. And draw out a pattern and it would wrap around this and zip up the back without problem and Ms. Snow Fashionista would be out the door. . . However – we aren’t all built with our measurements equally distributed off of one main center column as a snow person is.
Commercial sewing pattern measurements give several key measurements to work with; however they don’t speak to how those measurements relate to one another.
What if the snow person has a middle section that is the perfect measurement, but what if it is pushed far forward, overhanging the lowest section? Would the commercial sewing pattern still fit perfectly if the measurements were exactly what they called for? Hmmmm, the answer is ‘it depends.’
(for the record, every student I’ve ever taught would sigh heavily when I uttered the words ‘it depends’ as they knew they weren’t getting a short yes/no question answered!)
The finished garment will not fit as intended because the position of the measurements in relation to the others is not the same.
I use this example over and over to illustrate if a woman has a larger than a B bust cup. Commercial patterns are under the assumption that the bust on the person wearing the garment is a B bust cup. But what if you are a “D” bust cup, and you buy a pattern based on your larger fuller bust – the pattern is still not going to fit well because the pattern assumes you are the ‘regular’ snowperson all aligned in the center or ‘normal’ position, but instead your body pulls the fabric forward to cover your bust, and you are left with drag lines (lines in the garment that pull or twist and don’t look pleasing to the eye).
My long winded point in illustrating all of this is to help you learn that the ‘relationship’ of measurements next to each other is as important as the measurement itself.
LEARNING TO FIT:
How did you learn to make your bed and smooth out the wrinkles? You put on the fitted sheet and it was nice and tight and smooth, then you snap the top sheet over and it lands in soft folds on the bed. Then what? Your eyes look at the cloth and you read the wrinkles and instinctively know which corner or edge to pull to smooth it out. Fitting garments is as easy as that – read the wrinkles and smooth them out.
While I see the merit in writing books on fitting ‘methods’ and ‘techniques’ – many many of them if learned and studied and followed thru on will give you beautiful well fitting clothing – what I don’t see is having to have a Ph.D in fitting in order to enjoy garment sewing!
So, smooth the wrinkles to the edges (seams), fold out any corners, creating tucks (darts) and soon you’ll be fitting clothing as easily as making your bed.
The secret here is to not only think of the measurement at hand, but the adjacent ones. In other words, if you want to make a dress to fit the snow woman who’s middle section is forward, you need to have a piece of cloth that will not only accommodate the lower section measurements (the hip) but also take into consideration that the abdomen extends further and that must be added (see the red line on the right is slightly longer on the snow woman than the original – EVEN THOUGH THE MEASUREMENTS OF THE INDIVIDUAL SECTIONS ARE EXACTLY THE SAME)
I’m obviously oversimplifying this and not giving specifics on ‘how’ to accomplish this, but my main objective is to simply open your eyes to the ‘why’ your patterns aren’t fitting even when you painfully take exacting measurements and match them to the patterns you purchase.
Here is what I tell students to have fun with: Make your bed for the next week, paying attention to your natural ability to smooth out the cloth and make it nice and flat for each layer of your bed. THEN for the next few days, throw a pillow in the center of the bed and smooth out and make folds (darts) around the pillow to make a pleasing bed that way. After that, put something tall, like your bathroom trash can in the bed, and fold and dart around that. Play with it; see what fits it and what flatters it into a nice pleasing eye. Practice gift wrapping odd shaped items for fun. Paper is not forgiving – you will learn lots of things wrapping balls, or eggs, or flat bottomed bowls etc. Start analyzing the draglines and drapes in your garments, and start smoothing them out into seams and darts to fit better.
...so that's the end of Part 1 of Fitting with Colleen. If you have any questions or need clarification on any point, please leave it in the comments section. Colleen and I will be monitoring the comments and then will do another post to answer your questions. Please realize that this is a "starter" post on fit. No one achieves fit overnight or magically. It is something that is worked on and perfected. You just have to be willing to start and press forward until you've reached your goal...not giving up when faced with obstacles...sort of like me and invisible zippers! *LOL*
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A Guest Blogger and Betty & Veronica
picture courtesy of Archie News
Now why do I mention them...because of the comments left about how quickly I knocked off the MK dress. See one of my favorite issues had Betty sewing. Veronica bought designer gear because her daddy had money. Betty sewed because she came from average middle class folks like I did. Betty would see something in a magazine or a store window and go home and make it up...usually in an afternoon. Veronica would see the same thing and head to the department store. So in this particular story, they both saw the same outfit...Betty made hers, Veronica bought hers...and they ended up walking into each other wearing it.
This issue greatly influenced my sewing. Yeap, at 11~12 I was already channeling how to make designer garments at home...I guess I've always been a fashionista at heart! *LOL* Does anyone else remember that issue? Does anyone else remember The Archies!? So that's what all of the comments about how quickly I made the dress and how I adapted it...made me think of...Betty and Veronica! *LOL*
Please come back tomorrow and check out Colleen's post! I know you will enjoy it! And always....more later!
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Inspired by Michael Kors
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Michael Kors, Sewing and Me!
Which then drove me to his website and to Style.com. I have happily spent the morning imagining new pieces for my fall wardrobe - because you know how much I love a dress! So without further ado these are the pieces that have set my heart pitter pattering...all pics are from Style.com
The good thing about an extensive fabric collection...I already have a piece like this in it! It reminds me of Simplicity 2868 which also resides in my pattern collection...just make short sleeves instead of long ones!
Besides the fact that I love, love, love the pairing of black and white - I'm also really diggin' all of the color blocking that he has going on!
I know that this is in a brown/black combination but I can see it in soooo many other shades...how about a gray/lilac combo or a red/black combo...you could get as dramatic as you pleased or as tonal as you wanted. Oooolalalala - the combinations you could come up with to make it your own! BTW, this wool crepe version retails for $1,995!
Is this not fresh or what!?! I love the colors MK chose for his version - I'm thinking mine could be done from similar colors using some amazing ponte knits from Marcy Tilton! Or if you want to see a less expensive RTW version of this...Dillards is offering a grey/black/white version for $128! Because MK's version retails for $1,795!!!
Now this is my TNT sheath dress with two amazing colors and a large satin ribbon sewn down the front! I can't think of one person who wouldn't look amazing in this dress! Just pick colors you love and get to sewing!
A variation on a theme I know, but doesn't it look just as good in black and white! Some of these pieces will be making appearances in my fall/winter wardrobe...how can they not? They are classic styles with a lot of ooomph, will work well in my corporate environment and will make this plus size mama look professional and well put together!
So what do you think? Anything here that would work for you? Or are you jonesing on another look/designer/color for fall?
Thursday, August 20, 2009
New Sewists Thursdays - Needles and Thread!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Is it Friday yet?
Today during a meeting when I should have been taking notes and concentrating on the subject at hand, I instead found myself writing paragraphs about sewing issues that were swirling around in my brain...
1. Vintage Patterns
I now own alot of them! So much so that I'm not even visiting the vintage pattern sites because I'm scared that I will find something I like! *LOL* Quite a few new ones have managed to find their way to my house and haven't even been photographed and put in my flickr album. I need to find some time to do that!
2. The Pumpkin Seed Collection
It just does not seem to be getting out of the starting blocks?! I don't know if its because I've had so many social engagements this month or if I'm waiting until vacation to sew...*sigh* Its such a great collection of garments and several are banging up against the forefront of my brain demanding to come into existence.
3. Project Runway starts tomorrow night
To say that I'm excited just does not do my feelings justice! I tried Bravo's new show, "The Fashion Show" but I didn't like it! I can't wait for Heidi, Tim, Michael and Nina to come back...so you know where I'll be tomorrow evening! *LOL*
4. Sheath Dresses
Even though the last one did not wear as well as I expected, I still have ideas for like 6 or 7 more! I can see them in all colors and patterns in my head for fall. They are so easy to wear and make me look professional without alot of effort...and they showcase jewelry so well!!! I have all I need on hand to make them...I just need more sewing time! Every sewists lament right?!
5. My Fabric Closet
Is haunting me...I see it in my dreams! That's because it needs to be refolded and reworked! Fabric is everywhere in my apartment and in no particular order...but when I think of dragging everything out, refolding, rethinking it and putting it back into the closet...I get a headache! It will take days to accomplish this task and I'm not quite ready to give up precious sewing days to do this. However, it is on my list and slowly moving up to the top!
So is it Friday yet? I want to sew! *sigh* Yes, even after the last outing I still want to spend quality time with my sewing machine...and as always, more later!
Monday, August 17, 2009
In and Out Pictures...
I love dresses made from cotton sateen with a little lycra in them. They are usually made with the brightest colors in the best prints, but wearing this one around today I remembered why I rarely make dresses from this type of fabric...
*after wearing all day they stretch - so if you've already got alot of fabric in a dress - there's even more!
*I had to wear a half slip with this to stop it from clinging to me and my Spanx!
*And after sitting in it a few hours, I had a "butt print"....ummm not an attractive look when leaving a meeting.
However, I wasn't burning up in "the heatwave" when I went outside today...and I wasn't freezing when I was in the office...so it did have some good points.
But I feel like I'm two for two in the "meh" department because I don't LOVE either one of the last two dresses I've made. I think I need to just take a time out from sewing! Me thinks that I'm so invested in my September vacation sewing that I'm just NOT getting it right now...*sigh*
Sunday, August 16, 2009
In and Out
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Middle of the month ramblings...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
New Sewists Thursdays - Sewing Sheers
As a rule, hems should be either very narrow (rolled) or very wide (double-folded).
I prefer to work with either silk or rayon sheers. They drape beautifully and are a joy to work with. If this is your first time with sheers I recommend you stick with natural fibers. Yet, sometimes I am seduced by a pretty polyester print. Polys are more difficult to work with as they tend to pucker and are more difficult to press well. Breathability is also a factor. To check for breathability simply blow through the fabric. If you can feel your breath on the other side you are safe. Generally, poly georgettes and open-weaves are your best bet.
My favorite type of garment for sheer fabric is, by far, a blouse. I look for styles with clean, simple lines. If a garment has facings, you’ll want to replace them with bias binding or a very narrow rolled hem. Shirt plackets work best if they are cut on and self-interfaced. I also love garments with tucks of any size, which look absolutely beautiful in sheer fabrics. Of course, dresses and skirts are also a possibility but will need to be either lined or partially lined.
Tucks on a white crinkled silk:
Here are some nice current patterns that would work well with sheer fabrics:
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Vogue 8596 - "The Dress"
And one additional concern - this neckline is made from a sew-on casing. If you pull the drawstring tighter, the entire dress rises up. The hemline...the sleeves...everything. If you use a more relaxed neckline everything settles down a little better. Because of this I added the inch and a half of netting to the hemline (shades of Moschino, Lindsay!)
Saturday, August 08, 2009
Dueling Patterns - Part II
Then Debbie Cook posted a link to a picture of both the front and back of the outfit...
Photo from Stylefrizz.com
This proves that both patterns did not capture the essence of the back of the jacket...and Ann I wonder if the seams are so detailed on the jacket back because of the width of the fabric as you suggested.
Updated to include photo from Phyllis which outlines the actual seam lines in the back of the jacket!
Now I know that very few of us have access to the same type of fabric used in the original outfit...but whatever fabric we choose to use...it will give us a little more freedom and creative licensing when making our own version. However, it has been extremely interesting...at least to me...to examine the two patterns design so closely and to imagine how I will make my own version of this momentous outfit!
Next time I will cry less and examine the details more! *LOL* One final note...we all noticed the Inauguration Outfit (maybe because it soooooo resembled the original styling!) but none of us mentioned that Butterick also did a riff on the Jacket/Skirt outfit that Michelle Obama wore to the Concert on the Mall the Sunday before Inauguration Day...
Michelle Obama's Actual Outfit
Finally I succumbed...I did purchase the Butterick pattern mainly because of the lowered seamline on the jacket front and the Club BMV price of $4.27! *LOL* Patterns are still on sale through midnight tonight CST. I also bought the wardrobe pattern pictured above...so now between the four patterns I can come up with my own version of Michelle Obama's wardrobe.
Well I'm off to sew...my Vogue dress is calling my name! I have no plans for the weekend except a brunch tomorrow...and if I use my time wisely, I may have not one dress but two dresses to show! Hope springs eternal! *LOL*
As always...more later!