Thursday, May 31, 2012

What do you think?

I know Pinterest is the newest addiction in the internet world but I like going to the source, so I'm still addicted to Net-A-Porter and  I love seeing the close up of the garments, the back view, the accessories that were used to accent the piece and watching it move.  

So everyone has their internet delights...what does this have to do with the title of my post?  I've wanted to make Vogue 8805... 

as soon as it was posted to the Vogue site...especially since it resembles this Preen dress...

I know I want to make it from ponte knits and I have a good collection of them but I don't have orange or a turquoise blue.  I guess I could go down to the garment district and search amongst the stores for a yard of either color but there is this collection and I want to sew from the collection.  I also want to make the dress this weekend...not wait for another I auditioned other options I could live with:

Here is the first choice (a) - stone, honey brown and dark brown:

or the second choice (b) - stone, navy blue, purple:

the third choice (c) -  maroon, brown, stone or the flip - stone, brown, maroon:

and the final choice (d) - stone, navy, red:

I won't tell you which combination I'm partial to but I am worried that the final choice will make me look like an American flag...not the look I'm going for...but it is the brightest looking combination similar to the Preen look.

There are a few construction changes I'm going to make...the pattern has a button loop closing on the back of the dress.  I'm going to add an invisible zipper like the designer dress instead of the button/loop closing.  Since the hemline on the pattern ends above the knee, I will lengthen the bottom block to just below the knee...a better look for me and for work.  Simple changes but necessary for me.

Even though this is not one of the dresses in my 10 yard adventure wardrobe, it is on my summer sewing list.  So I will be sewing from the list, just not in the order I thought and I'm fine with that.  Please let me know what combination you like by leaving a comment with the letter designated...I will count them all up Saturday morning and inform you of the popular vote. always, more later!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Long Weekend

This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend in the United States and besides the very important meaning of Memorial Day (where we celebrate the present and past members of the US Armed Forces who gallantly serve our country!) it also means that most companies have a three day weekend.  Now I know that this weekend is the unofficial start to summer and many people will be heading out to enjoy the weekend...I will, however, celebrate in my sewing room.  

I don't know about anyone else but several days of sewing brings a calmness to my soul and smoothes out all of the craziness of my work days...and lately those have been a little crazier than usual.  My plan is to finish up the "ala Chanel Dress", finish up the pants that go with this wardrobe and hopefully get another dress from my list made up.  That's my realistic plan.  My unrealistic plan is that I finish those pieces and at least another two dresses from my list...that I basically eat, sleep and sew in my sewing room...pure heaven in my world!

Now I know that is totally unrealistic but it gives me something to strive for now doesn't it!  *LOL*  My daughter will be by on Monday afternoon so I'll have some pictures of the last few pieces...and hopefully another Little Prince sighting.

So you know where I'll be this about you?  If you're in the U.S., I hope that you have a wonderful, relaxing, sewing-filled weekend...and if not I hope you have a great weekend anyway! always, more later!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Mood Experience

If Mood Fabrics website has stymied you from purchasing some of the awesomely beautiful fabric that they stock, don't worry, they are rebuilding it.  And how do I know, you may ask?  Because last night I got to participate in a focus group that discussed the ins and outs of building a new and more efficient website.

This was seriously one of the kewlest fabric/sewing things that I've done this year.  It was wonderful to be a part of such a diverse group that consisted of home sewists, and other stitchers and crafters from BurdaStyle and Etsy.  The ideas were flowing hot and heavy.  The desire to have the best website to meet the needs of beginner to advanced sewists was emphasized again and again.  And if the staff incorporates half of the focus group's is going to be one amazing, go-to, must shop, internet fabric site.

So look for a new internet fabric shopping experience from Mood in about 6-7 months.  Believe me it will be worth the wait!  And thanks to the Moods Team for inviting me to was so appreciated! always, more later!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

My Tried 'n True Dress ala Chanel

Okay I've gone off the ranch on this one...and I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not yet! *sigh*  Here is the inspiration picture...

June 2012 InStyle Magazine

I found this picture in this month's InStyle magazine.  This of course led to a round of internet spying...first on then on Chanel's site.  Watching the dress walk, trying my best to get a glimpse of the back, cause I just don't want to end up with coffin clothes so aptly named by Kathleen Fasanella...especially if I'm going to put all that work into the front of the dress.

Let's start at the inspiration picture...this dress is made from a supple ivory leather and InStyle says that the rippling iridescent chiffon ribbons are embroidered on.  However, when you go to Chanel's site, you can see that yes these are iridescent chiffon ribbons but they are stitched to the leather.

Well I had some iridescent chiffon ribbons in my notions stash and I thought that this application would be a great way to jazz up my TNT dress pattern for the 10 yard Adventure Wardrobe.  I thought it would add some interest to these basics and it would make sewing this more fun.  Me thinks I bit off more than I can chew.

The dress is almost finished and maybe I'll lose my trepidations once I've gotten it on my body with hair and make-up and I see a picture or two.  Maybe I'm just experiencing that space I seem to occupy whenever I make a complicated dress ~ and I know y'all are tired of me talking (moaning) about these challenges! *LOL*  

Of course, the most sewing intensive part is the ribbons...placing them, applying them, ironing them down and cursing at them!  I chose to go with the beige and light yellow ribbons that I had in the notions stash instead of heading out to Daytona and purchasing blue and yellow ones.  This is one decision that I am happy with...

maybe I should have chosen a darker background

So to apply the ribbons, I played with placement, then pinned everything down. Next I hand-basted the ribbons to the dress before machine stitching them onto the dress.  Then using a stitch that was 2.3 length, I stitched the ribbons down making sure that I used thread that matched exactly, stitching as close to the edge of the ribbon as possible.  Here is what the front looks like with the ribbons stitched on...

...and the back...

The dress will be lined and I'm playing with adding ivory piping to the neckline and armholes because I'm NOT adding the sheer ribbon...that won't last through a full day of work and it's the part I liked least about the original dress.

A few more construction pics...

pinning the ribbons down

sewing the ribbons on using my zipper foot

Since I used my TNT dress pattern for this, all the other construction details are pretty straightforward even though this has consumed my entire weekend. The next time you see this it will be on my body. Hopefully the finished garment will be what I see in my mind's eye. always, more later!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Does this happen to you?

So I'm working on the dress for the 10 yard adventure wardrobe, watching the Glee marathon on Oxygen, and I had this thought...okay I was also surfing RTW sites on the internet...*LOL*  But seriously, I saw this skirt with a kewl pocket detail that reminded me of my Burda skirt.

It made me realize that I've made quite a few pieces but there is a select group (and this skirt falls into it) that I rarely wear.  I don't wear these garments for various reasons, some intangible, like they just don't make me feel great when I wear them.  It's not like they're too tight or too loose.  They aren't fidgety and they've even passed the Wearability Test...they just get worn infrequently for some indiscernible reason.

So does this happen to anyone else?  Have you made garments that are just ho hum when you wear them?  They are sewn well but just wear meh?  If so, do tell...because this is the Question of the Day.  Talk back to me, I've incorporated an inspiration idea into my dress that's taking some careful placing and making me slow down this journey. always, more later!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Calendaring Sewing

Two years ago I counted the number of weeks there were between May and September (there were 17 that year) and decided to use that as my guide for my spring/summer sewing.  I remember feeling very productive because I knew I had to make those weekends count.  Since my sewing has to be divided into work and vacay sewing this year, I knew I needed to do the same thing again.

So after sitting down and looking at the calendar ~ beginning with this weekend ~ not only have I figured out how many weekends I have left but I've also figured out how many can be devoted to work sewing vs. vacay sewing.  Obsessive, yes.  Effective, I truly hope so! Of course, the recap that I'll do once I return from the cruise and settle into the sewing portion of the vacay (9 glorious days!) will tell the true tale.  But already this has brought a calmness to my creative soul, because I was starting to get all fluttery with all of the ideas I have, worried that none of them would be released from my brain and actually sewn up.

Having a predetermined schedule will allow me to concentrate and yes, schedule some of the ideas that I have.  I'm not planning a lot of outings this summer because of the cruise so I have the perfect reason to stay home and I really need one! *LOL*  I have some interesting summer work garments planned and now I can go with the flow on the vacay pieces...especially since I'm thinking maxidresses and alot of them!

This antsy feeling always happens to me at the beginning of a new season...and I just needed to tame that beast once again.  So how about you?  Do you plan your sewing seasons?  Or are you a go with the flow person?  Me...well I'll be sewing up a storm now that I've calendared my sewing... always, more later! 

Monday, May 14, 2012

The 10 Yard Adventure Wardrobe - Pt. 1

My latest sewing adventure started with a purchase of 10 yards of ivory polyester crepe from Fabric Mart.  I've got wardrobe basics for summer in black, gray, brown and navy so this season I wanted some ivory ones.  That's how I started the 10 yard adventure...the fabric was exactly what I was looking for to make these basics.

My wardrobe basics usually consist of a dress, a pair of pants, a skirt and a jacket or cardigan. Since I bought 10 yards of this fabric for a very good price, these are the garments that I want to make:
  • A shift dress from my TNT pattern
  • A wide legged pair of pants
  • A flare lined skirt
  • A short unlined collarless jacket from Butterick 6002
  • A cardigan jacket from Burda 8869 out-of-print pattern

I've finished the flared skirt and one of the jackets and I've got a great idea for my TNT dress.  These pieces will be the centerpiece for all of my work sewing for the rest of the spring/summer makes.  Because EVERYTHING I sew this summer will go with the ivory color.  There are also a few silk tops that I want to make from some J.Crew fabrics I purchased from Fabric Mart last year, to add a burst of color and pattern to the wardrobe.  

Then of course I have a few dress ideas, when don't I? *LOL*  Seriously, this year's dress ideas are fabric based...either because the fabric is special or because it can be manipulated to make a wow dress.  Even though I've purchased quite a few of the new spring/summer patterns from the Big 4, most of them will be used for my vacation wardrobe rather than my work one. My spring/summer dresses will be made from my TNT dress pattern and a few from new patterns.

So let's start with the first completed garment from the series, the lined flare skirt. I made this skirt at the end of last month but just got a photographer to get some pics of me wearing it.

Some statistics:

TNT flare skirt pattern

1" non roll elastic 
rayon bemberg lining
1" polyester lace
rayon seam binding

A few photos of me wearing it with a RTW twinset because this is the first of the wardrobe pieces completed...

Lilac Twinset from The Avenue
Pearl Necklace from a gift shop
AK Ann Klein slingbacks

The next completed piece is the first jacket of the more on that later!  And Schmoomon, thanks for the kind comment about my face and weight but really I think the fat is just migrating south!  *LOL* always, more later!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Anatomy of a Dress Final

It's taken a minute to get pictures of me wearing the dress but finally here they are:

To recap...
TNT Pattern
plaid silk/linen blend from the collection
22" invisible zipper
white piping
rayon bemberg lining
polyester lace
rayon seam binding

All of the construction posts are here. As for the grain issues that I experienced when I cut the dress out, I fudged by adding additional length to the bottom pieces.  I believe there are two solutions to off-grain fabric.  One - chuck it.  The grain is so off that there is nothing you can do to salvage it.  Or two - add some length to the hemline so that you can fiddle with the hem to make it work.  Now I don't know if these are acceptable methods.  They are just things that I've worked out from my years of sewing.  

In this case, the grain is just slightly wonky and not something that I'm sure a less experienced sewist would notice.  But as I continued to cut pieces out, I noticed that I couldn't get them to line up even using a single fabric layout.  It was helpful that I cut the bodice separate from the skirt of the dress and that I added piping along with the insert cut on the bias.  All of those elements helped to camouflage the fact that the plaid did not perfectly match.

My daughter took these pictures for me today along with some of the 10 yard adventure wardrobe shots and of course, the Little Prince had to get in on the action.  Here we are together...

and one of him doing his favorite thing...watching TV!

Here's wishing all Mothers 
a Very Happy Mother's Day! always, more later!

Friday, May 11, 2012

So you want to know more...

Questions, questions and more questions...I know you must leave them and wonder if I ever read them?  Well I just takes me a minute to get them answered.  So this post will answer quite a few of them.  However, if you had a question regarding my latest dress, I plan on answering them when I do a final review.  Speaking of that dress, I ended up not wearing it in Chicago.  It was a little, okay who am I fooling, a lotta damp and chilly so I wore The Whitney Dress instead.  I hate feeling cold!

Okay, so on to the questions...
Lisa Pellegrini asked, "Have you ever been tempted to use the wrong side of a fabric as the right side?"
Of course I have and when I do I call it a designer decision and feel no need to tell anyone that I used what everyone else considered the "wrong" side of the fabric! *LOL*

Kuby asked, "Which machine company did she advertise for?"
I have no idea...I want to say Viking but I will have to dig my old pattern magazines out from the 80's and see if I can find out!

Julianne asked, "Do you preshrink your piping?"
Oh man, I feel like saying busted!  I know that I should preshrink it but honestly I never have and never had a shrinking accident which just reinforces my bad behaviour.  But all the sewing books say that you should...let that be your guide!

Sheila stated, "Regarding applying piping, have you tried an industrial piping foot on your machine?"
I do use my piping foot often when applying piping as noted in the other piping post I linked to.  It is not industrial but it is the piping foot that Janome recommends for my sewing machine.

BeeBee asked, "Do/would you ever remove the "stuffing" from the part of the piping thatwill go into the seam allowance?"
Yes, I've use flat piping as an embellishment.  But when I used that technique, it was with a flat bias binding that was folded in half, pressed and stitched into the seam.

JustGail asked, "Do you have a method to keep Fray Check from getting hard and scratchy?"
I've heard this complaint before but have never experienced it.  Have you tried Fray Block instead?  It's suppose to have a softer end result than Fray Check.

LinB discussed partial linings...
I've used a partial lining in this pants suit and can't stand the partial lining. It creeps, it creases and the hemline scratches my legs.  So I need to figure something else out.

Josh asked, "Are you still participating in the craftsy course?"
Honestly, I've watched one class and that's it.  But the reason I signed up for the craftsy course is that I have unlimited access to it for a year.  So during one of my 3-day weekends, I will concentrate on it again.  I just need some serious downtime to do so!

Andsewitgoes asked, "You sandwich the piping on the neckline between the dress and the facing, correct?"
Actually I've omitted the facings on this dress pattern years ago.  So the piping is sandwiched between the fashion fabric and the lining fabric.

Laceflower asked, "How do you decide the quantity of fabric to buy?  How do you use it in say, the first garment and expect there to be enough for the last garment?"
Ah this is a really good question!  I figure out the pieces I want to make and how much yardage they take and then purchase accordingly.  I'm going to get five full garments out of the ten yards of ivory poly crepe and I have plans to use some of the larger scraps in other garments to make sure that I use almost every piece of fabric.

...and finally, MelissaL88 asked, "Are you not worried about the "warmth" factor of polyester crepe?"
Melissa, the crepe is lightweight and yes it's polyester.  But I'm thinking of the dress, pants and skirt as spring & fall pieces...that's why I'm getting them constructed so quickly so that I can wear them now before the temperatures start to rise.  The two jackets will work throughout the summer since I commute in over-the-top air conditioning (like its on right now on the bus!) and in an office that can feel like a refrigerator at times.  I really just wanted some drapey, non-wrinkling ivory pieces to use as a base for a spring/summer wardrobe and this piece fit the bill.

I hope this answers the questions that were left.  If I missed one that you asked, leave it in the comments and I will update this post with it. always, more later!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Big Show...

My main reason for going to Chicago was the Haute Couture Fashion Show presented by the Haute Couture Club of Chicago.  I was invited to go last year but prior engagements made it difficult for me to attend. After seeing the pics and hearing the tales, I decided that I HAD to be there this year!  

You know how you go somewhere and there is so much anticipation built into it that when you get there and experience it you're disappointed.  Well that was definitely not the case this time!  It was an amazing fashion show and I was sooooo impressed that so many sewists were willing to walk the catwalk in the garments that they had dreamed up and brought to life in front of more than 400 folks!  Kudos to you all!

The Ticket

The Program

The Women at my Table

Linda & Liana

Rhonda Buss starting the show!

So I'm a good sewist but a lousy photographer.  Every time Cennetta paused in front of our table I tried to take a picture...every time I either got the back of her or the side of her...this was the best pic of the lot...sad right?!  But do you recognize the coat?  It was even more stunning from the front!  

Now Ann of Gorgeous Things took some awesome pictures.  Hopefully, she will share them with us soon!  I had a fabulous time with the ladies, at Vogue Fabrics but most especially at the Fashion Show!  If you get the opportunity to attend, you really should, it is a pretty astounding experience for a sewist!

A parting shot courtesy of Linda...that's my Mom in the corner who put up with a lot of fabric shopping and fabric talk last weekend!

(Me paying for fabric, Liana, Ann & my Mom!)

I've got so much more to show you.  I cut some things out when I got home Monday evening.  I have two pieces finished from the Ten Yard Adventure Wardrobe and a plan...just alot more stay tuned! always more later!

Monday, May 07, 2012

Another one off the list...

Saturday, I finally got the chance to visit Vogue Fabrics in Evanston, IL.  Long has visiting Vogue Fabrics been on my Fabric Store Tour list...and even though I've been to Chicago several times for work, I'd never had time to get to Evanston.  I'd been to the Vogue Fabrics store downtown.  I'd even been to Fishman's but the ability to visit Vogue Fabrics Evanston eluded me on both occasions.

So Saturday, May 5th is a red letter day for me...because another one came off the list...and I have photographic proof:

We came in the back way

The trims and pattern area

The main room - the main one I shopped in!

Loved this display!
The vase is felted.

My haul is only 9 pieces and it consists of a little silk, 
a little linen, a little boucle and some rayons.

My guides were Cennetta, who authors the blog, The Mahogany Stylist, and Patti F., who is the President-Elect of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago.


Patti F.

My box of fabric goodies will be winging it's way to me later this week and I can't wait to get them!  Not only was Vogue Fabrics a fabulous experience but having Cennetta and Patti along made it even more so.  I even met Pearl who travels to the expos and had cut some fabric for me from the Vogue Fabric booth at the Worcester Expo several years ago.

I was in town for the Haute Couture Fashion Show which I will post about later.  I just got home and I'm tired. Flying into and out of O'Hare this weekend was a trip itself and reinforced why I hate to fly.  Late flights, rude passengers and hours wasted waiting in airports is not my idea of how to vacation.  Thank goodness I flew JetBlue with Even More Legroom and faster security checks since some carriers at O'Hare were still trying to get people out from last night's thunderstorms today... always, more later!

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

The Sleeve Details

I'm a huge fan of piping and was heavily influenced by those ads Cynthia Guffey did for the sewing machine companies back in the 80s.  Not only were the dresses impeccably sewn with matching piping at the neckline and armholes but then they would have this awesome embroidery running down the side or at the hemline. Does anyone remember those ads, besides me?

So I've been adding piping to garments for years trying to perfect that look...and now twenty years later I have my own method (culled from reading books, taking classes and by trial and error) for inserting the piping into sleeve hems. This isn't the only way that I do this process but this is the simpler application and let me add the disclaimer here...I'm sure that there are more professional, correct, by the book ways of inserting the pipingThis is just how I do it.  Sherry, who authors the blog, "Pattern...Cloth...Scissors" just posted a tutorial on how to make piping from beginning to end and add it to a waistline seam.  I would definitely check out her tutorial! 

Okay now that we've gotten that out of the way, first after cutting the pattern out, I cut 1.5" off the sleeve hem and set the strip to the side.

Then I hand stitch the piping 5/8" onto the edge of the sleeve 
leaving about a 1/2" of piping on either side.

The strip that was cut off was serged on both sides.
Next the strip was pinned to the sleeve's hem covering the piping.

Sewing the piped edge down using my zipper foot.

I use my bamboo point turner to mark a seam line as close
as possible to the piping so I'm sewing right up next to the piping.

Right side of piping inserted in the sleeve's hemline

Wrong side of piping inserted into the sleeve's hemline

The sleeves with the underarm seams sewn but not yet pressed open.

The underarm seam is pressed flat.  The extra piping cut off and 
finished with a seam sealant (Fray Check) and then
stitch witchery is placed under the seam and pressed.

The finished sleeve in the dress after a line 
of stitching has been added close to the piping.

Again, this is one of the ways that I apply piping to sleeve hems.  The other method involves applying the piping in the sleeve hem with the underarm seam sewn so that the piping is encased in the hem and the process can be found in this post.  

I will admit that after all the hand stitching I did in the dress that I got lazy at the end.  If I were a "couture" sewist, I would have gone the extra mile and encased the piping.  But last Sunday I wasn't...and since I sealed the cut piping ends and stabilized the seam, I'm not worried about the piping fraying.  Now, I'm not recommending that you follow me off the cliff, I'm just showing you what I did in this garment.

As a follow-up, I've finished the lined flare skirt from the Ten Yard Adventure Wardrobe and I've cut out a wide legged pair of pants too.  I know they need some type of lining because they are a little see-through, I just don't want to lose the drapiness of the fabric, so I'm working this through in my head. always, more later!


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