Thursday, January 31, 2013

The First 31 Days of 2013

Januarys and Julys seem to be good sewing months for me.  I guess I take a few more vacation days and there are holidays during both months that give me several days off in a row to sew.  

January was good to me this year too. I made six pieces and my sewing is moving in another direction which is very encouraging to me.  I've had great highs this month - the Ponte & Leather Dress and incredible lows - The Vogue Jacket.

Four dresses and two jackets were completed this month.  More progress was made on The City in Winter Collection.  A few more pieces and it will be done.  Two items were featured on The Mood Sewing Network...

...and I'm moving forward with another designer inspired garment.

Of course more fabric was added to the collection.  I do have a healthy fabric addiction after all! *LOL*  But most importantly my new baby arrived.  I love coming into the sewing cave and seeing the Horizon 8900 sitting next to my Babylock serger.  I feel like my sewing has finally grown to the point where I can use the best of the best to create.

I also added a new piece to the sewing room to handle some of the fabric overflow.  

(Notice how it's already filled with fabric!)

Now if I could just get those last three garbage bags unpacked from Hurricane Sandy! *LOL*  I have one more corner of the sewing room to fix...I want to add another bookcase to store my books on which will free up two more shelves for fabric storage.  I will also be able to move my sewing knick knacks onto a shelf and out of storage.  The other change I want to make to the sewing room is to get my sewing magazines unboxed and stored away.  I'm using some shelving poorly in my sewing room and I want to repurpose it which will give me space for my magazines.

My sister who hasn't been in the sewing cave since my fabric was in plastic bins, came down the other day and was amazed at how much it's changed.  Just a few more changes and I think I will be done for a little while! *LOL*

Hopefully February will be good to me sewing-wise too! always more later!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Print Blocking

Everyone knows that color blocking has been very popular for several seasons. Lately in my travels through designer sites, I've noticed this trend that I'm calling "Print Blocking."  Here are some examples...

...from Erdem's Pre-Fall 2013 Collection...

This from Calvin Klein that I found on

...and finally this new Vogue 1336 from Vogue Patterns 
(Which are on sale until Friday!)

Of course this meant some scrounging around in my fabric collection to see if I had some comparable fabrics.  This combo features a brown/purple print ponte knit from Mood with a brown ponte knit from the collection.  Beautiforius, right Marcy! ;)

I had the red ponte knit in my collection that is left over from making The Macy's Dress. I'm combining it with a new purchase that I'd seen online and remembered as soon as I saw the Calvin Klein dress.  So you know I bought two yards with a quickness and a hurry to make my version of the CK dress.

My excitement for these dresses have bumped the DL jacket & dress.  I will work on these dresses this weekend from TNT dress patterns.  The CK dress will be made using my TNT dress pattern with a few changes made to the pattern. The Erdem interpretation will be made using Butterick 5679.  I mean it's SuperBowl weekend, no one will be around to do things with so I will have the weekend to myself to sew, sew, sew!

These will be palette cleansers to help renew my sewing aura that was badly damaged and inflicted with so much pain from the last jacket make. I need a little fashion forward dress sewing to restore my sewing faith! *LOL*  

I know I'm changing my mind about the sewing order of my next couple of garments but it's "My Prerogative!" always more later!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Vogue 8208 - The Jacket is Done

This jacket is part of my City in Winter Collection.  I've been sewing this collection since last October. As you know I wanted to create a versatile wardrobe that I could use for any part of my busy life ~ work, dates out with friends and church. I've finished quite a few pieces but I was dragging my feet making the jacket.

The jacket is from Vogue 8208 which is an out-of-print pattern that has been reviewed several times on Pattern Review...and now I know why there are only four reviews for it!  This jacket is a very involved sew with a lot of pieces!  I also decided to line an unlined jacket which added quite a bit of time to the jacket's construction.

I liked this pattern (notice I used the past tense here!) because the military influence was big for Fall 2012.  I thought this pattern encapsulated that trend well and it was already in my pattern collection.  It also worked with the basic bottoms I've already made.

Some stats:
Fabric ~
Brown wool crepe from Mood.  I bought mine at the NYC store but there is quite a selection online and if you specifically want brown it's here.

Notions ~
black silk organza 
brown rayon bemberg lining
10 7/8" buttons
fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply

All of the pattern alterations can be found in this post and the construction details are in the last post.

As you know, I did omit a few things. There is only one breast pocket without a flap.  I thought that all of those flaps were a little too much for my body.  The pattern calls for you to cut the back pattern piece on the fold. I added a center back seam to get a better fit.  I also shortened the length of the cuffs.  Not only did I add a lining but I also underlined the jacket in silk organza to enhance it's wearability factor.

All of that work and honestly, I HATE this jacket.  Not because it doesn't look good on me, or that it doesn't work with the bottoms, but because it's construction was difficult...too difficult!  There was no joy in sewing it.  I don't even know if I would have finished it, if it hadn't been a Mood Project.  I'm sure you're asking why since from the pics it looks decent.  Well, I removed those pockets 4x! Seriously 4x!  I measured and remeasured them before BASTING them to the jacket front several times. Even with all of that, they still had to come off again and again until I was in tears and wanted to throw the dayum thing in the garbage.

Usually it's fit that ruins a pattern for me.  This time it was the actual pattern and the degree of difficulty in achieving perfection.  Now I'm not a perfect sewist but I don't want my garments looking Becky Homecky and if I hadn't gotten the pockets right, it would have.  So enjoy the pretty pictures.  I've worn this to work and now I will bury it deep in the back of my closet until I'm no longer scarred by the trauma of making it!

I'd really wanted to make the belt that goes with this jacket but by the time I got the buttons sewn onto it, I was done.  Done and more done! *LOL*  I have about two yards of the brown wool crepe left.  My original plan was to make a dress from Vogue 8828...that's not happening now.  I'm thinking another version of my TNT dress just so that I can move onto the pieces that are going to be made from the gray fabric. 

I'm really ready for this collection to be completed and since the gray pieces are all made from TNT patterns hopefully, I can knock them out by President's Day weekend.  

So even though I worked my way through the pain and ended up with a wearable garment, it will see the back of the closet until the memories of it's birth have faded away.  Hey I have other toppers from the collection that can be worn with the basics so it's not like they won't be worn!  The jacket is done.  It challenged me.  It made me cry.  It's wearable...and now it will be put away for another day. always more later!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Vogue 8208 - Construction Details

Jackets are not easy sews for me.  I can construct them but lining them, that's a whole 'nother story. I'm just not as proficient at lining them as I am of other garments.  To make sure that I didn't screw this up, I watched a how-to video on lining jackets on the Power Sewing site. I picked up quite a few useful tips from Sandra Betzina and Ron Collins.  

As an aside, if you're not a member of Sandra Betzina's Power Sewing site, I highly recommend joining especially since she's running a special this month.  She has an awesome number of videos on her site that will assist you in taking your sewing to the next level.  I found this short video on YouTube, in case you've never seen her and Ron in action.

Construction ~
In my last post I mentioned that I was cutting out the fashion fabric, silk organza and lining fabric. I added silk organza to the construction of the jacket because it works as such a great stabilizer of wool crepe without changing the hand of the fabric.  The silk organza also helps with minimalizing the fabric's wrinkling.  It's just a great extra layer to add to wool crepe.

Pockets ~
There are a lot of pieces to this jacket.  It took hours just to make pockets and flaps and to get them situated on the jacket front.  The pattern has you apply unlined pockets to the jacket front.  I didn't want unlined pockets because I was worried that with the drapiness of the wool crepe that they would bag and sag. So not only did I line all four pockets but I also added interfacing to the upper part that folds into the pocket.  The pattern calls for you to add a button to that part of the pocket, so I wanted to stabilize that area.

I was also concerned about the placement of the pockets on the jacket.  It would be very easy to end up with crooked pockets.  To insure that didn't happen, I hand basted all of the pockets and the flaps to the jacket front before stitching them down.  Now there are two small breast pockets with flaps and two lower pockets with flaps on the jacket front.  While I like the look on the pattern envelope, I knew I didn't want that much pocketage on me!  Yeah, I know I just made that word up but you know what I mean! *LOL*  For the top pockets I omitted the flaps on the pockets and just made buttonholes in them for the buttons.

Of course I didn't get the pockets on straight the first time, or the second time or even the third time!  That would have just been to, I had to remove two of them and reapply them after carefully measuring the fronts.  I was going to leave them a little crooked and be satisfied with good enough but as I completed an additional piece of the construction the crooked pockets stuck out like sore thumbs!  So off they came again, once even after they'd been topstitched.  Thank goodness the fabric had been underlined with the silk organza or I could have possibly ruined the fabric...*sigh*

See why one of these had to go!

Each pocket was topstitched onto the jacket front.  I was a little more "perfect" with this because having the pockets basted onto the jacket front made it easier to move the jacket around on my sewing machine.

Topstitching samples
So you know I'm sewing this on my new sewing machine and even that is taking me a minute to acclimate myself to.  Things are similar to the 6600P but after sewing on the 6600P for several years I knew where everything was without thinking about it.  Since I'm still unfamiliar with the 8900, it takes some searching to find things.  Such was the case with my favorite topstitch pattern.  At first I couldn't find it and almost pulled out the 6600P but I kept spinning the silver wheel and finally it popped up.  

Final Construction Thoughts ~
  • I thought that the collar would be my downfall but that sucker went on easier than easy!  It topstitched up well and was easily applied to the jacket.  
  • Then it was the lining's turn.  I started this post by saying that I'm not proficient, okay let's go as far as saying, that I avoid making jackets and sewing their linings like the plague.  There are things that each sewist is good at making, mine is dresses not jackets and this lining is good but doesn't deserve a gold star.  Thank goodness for the lining video at Power Sewing because I literally watched it, stopped it, sewed and started it again.  I will definitely be renewing my subscription to Power Sewing!
  • Lining the sleeves - I didn't exactly bag the lining.  I used all of Sandra's techniques but since I was adding cuffs to the sleeves, I basted the lining to the sleeve hem and then sewed the cuff on.
  • The cuff pattern was long...way too long!  I ended up cutting an inch and a half off the pattern to get a cuff that fit me better.  I also ended up adding just one additional pleat to make the sleeve fit into the cuff.  So my pattern alterations worked.  Here's a pic of the finished cuff...

The jacket is finished and I will share it with you tomorrow...suffice it to say that I don't have much love for it...and will share this tale of woe then! always more later! 

Friday, January 25, 2013

It's just too danged cold!

Here in the NY/NJ area we've had single digit temperatures for the last three/four days.  I hate the cold!  I especially hate having to look like a polar bear to spend 10 minutes outside every morning waiting for the bus and then the 5 minute walk to work from the subway.  So I've been in a little bit of a panic about staying warm...last year the temperature never dipped below 32 degrees I wore dresses & skirts the entire winter.  That ain't happening this year, for sure!

Last Sunday I reached deep into the back of my closet and found this jacket that I'd totally forgotten I'd made...

...and this recent make (Butterick 5760) worn with a black cashmere turtleneck & black wool crepe pants kept me quite toasty this week...

I've been in pants all week and will be again tomorrow when all I can think of is sewing dresses and jacket/dress combos.  BTW, thanks for all the compliments on the last make, I really appreciate all of you who took the time to leave a comment. 

As a lot of you suggested, I will be making another version of it...just have to figure out which fabric to use.  But that's further down the list because I have another designer interpretation fighting to be made...

This is from 10 Crosby Derek Lam's Pre-Fall 2013 line.  Do you see that jacket? The top is made from a tweedy fabric and the sleeve bottoms and the jacket bottom are from leather.  

I'm going to use these fabrics from the collection along with the buttons that I bought in Chicago last May...

Faux leather & black 'n white wool blend tweed

Soutache wrapped buttons purchased from Soutache Embellishments

The designer shows that fabulous jacket with a leather skirt...kewl but not practical for my lifestyle.  I'm going to substitute a dress using my TNT pattern made from the tweed fabric with a faux leather yoke.  Edgy, right?  But I have enough practical work clothes and I want some fun and funky looks that will play nice in my corporate environment.  So this is what's up next on my sewing table!

Oh, one more thing!  You know how I was in love with those Salvatore Ferragamo pumps, discussed here.  Well Debbie Cook is always finding great shoes at Zappos, so during my holiday break I spent a little time on Zappos too.  Somehow these showed up at my doorstep...

...aren't they fantastic?  Love, love, love them!

Okay it's suppose to snow not only is it colder than cold and a Friday to boot, now it's gonna freakin' snow!  Gotta go find something that I can trudge through the snow to the bus stop in, oh and stay warm at the same time.  Yeah, love winter...*NOT*!

...more later!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Purple Pleasant Dress - Final

Here is the dress...

I don't think there's anything more to say about the dress that I haven't already said in this post and this one.  I'm glad that I was able to finish the second dress so that I have two options to wear with the Purple Pleasant Jacket.

Some stats:
Fabric ~
Silk border print used for the top
Purple woven used for the skirt 

Notions ~
black binding
22" purple invisible zipper
Rayon seam binding
Aubergine rayon lining

There are no new construction details to share...just some pictures...and here they are... always more later!

Monday, January 21, 2013

It's a Significant Day...

Today is the Second Inauguration of President Barack Obama, our first Black President, as well as the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.  MLK would have been 84 years old today and 50 years ago he gave his famous "I Have A Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, where he declared,

"I say to you today, my friends, that in spite of the difficulties and frustrations of the moment, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. 

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal." 

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 

I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

President Obama will stand on the Capital steps to take the Oath of Office and look across the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial where one great man stood and fought for a dream that is now coming true.  May we take time to reflect today, not only on the peaceful transfer of power in our government but also how as a nation we are moving forward to reflect a country of diversity with people of all colors, all nationalities, all religions and sexual orientations.

Truly I am proud to be an American today!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Vogue 8208 - Pattern Alterations

Vogue 8208 is an out of print pattern that was issued in 2006.  There are four reviews of the jacket on Pattern Review.

The pattern envelope's description of the pattern is ~ loose fitting, unlined jacket, below waist or below hip has collar, pockets with flaps and short sleeves with turnback cuffs or long, two-piece effect sleeves with button cuffs.

I chose to make this jacket because one of the top trends for Fall 2012 was military. I thought this jacket emphasized this look. Plus I've wanted to use this pattern for the last six years, so it's about time it took it's turn in the spotlight. Now even though this jacket has no lining, I will line it...more about that later.  I want to describe the pattern alterations in this post.

Of course, there were several alterations to the body of the jacket because the finished hemline measurements were 53" and I wanted a little more space in the jacket.  This jacket is being made to coordinate with the skirt and pants already sewn for "The City in Winter Collection", as well as, a future dress.  So I wanted some additional width in the jacket for turtlenecks, tops and dresses to fit under it comfortably. 

However, the most extensive alterations were made to the sleeves.  You see the fact is that even though the treadmill is strengthening my legs and helping with the measurements on my bottom half, my arms/biceps are increasing in width...incremental 1/4 inches but growing just the same.  Now I don't want to turn this into an exercise/surgical discussion because they are what they are but it is requiring me to rethink how I do pattern alterations to sleeve pattern pieces.

Last year I took the easy way out.  I used jacket patterns with raglan sleeves because the sleeve has a lot of design ease that I used as fitting ease.  I also think it's why I'm unhappy wearing jackets...the need to get sleeves to fit without binding my arms throughout the day.  Sweaters and cardigans from knit fabrics are just easier to wear and probably accounts for my current love affair with them.

All of that to say that I'm experimenting with how to get more ease into the biceps area of a pattern without adding a lot of space at the sleeve's hemline, especially since I have smaller wrists.  Please realize that this is my journey.  I'm not sure if this is the correct way to make these alterations.  I'm borrowing from a whole lot of places to get the pattern to work for me and honestly that's what I'm most concerned with...getting a sleeve pattern that will work for my body! 

The good thing about this sleeve pattern is that it has tucks in the pattern to assist you with inserting it into the cuff.  This is fantastic because any additional space at the hemline can be pleated into the cuff. Yes!

Here are my sleeve alterations:

Original sleeve pattern

Sleeve folded to figure out where to add
space to the sleeve

Lines made in the pattern to add space in 2 places

New sleeve traced out after adding to the biceps

New sleeve pattern over sleeve pattern
that was cut & spread

I was reading how Lynn made some changes to a sleeve pattern on her blog, "Wonderfully Made" and had an aha moment.  You see Lynn made this wonderful Chanel-esque jacket and she had some challenges with the sleeve.  Her solution is in this post and upon reading it I thought I can use that. Using her idea is how I added the needed space to the bicep area of my sleeve pattern ~ pictured above. Thanks Lynn for sharing that!

I've moved onto cutting out the fashion fabric, lining and silk organza underlining. Yeah, I'm going all out in sewing this jacket...mind you sewing a jacket not tailoring one!  I'll be back tomorrow with construction info. Hope you're having a wonderful sewing weekend! always more later!

Friday, January 18, 2013

What's up next on the sewing table...

Friday Night and here I sit in the sewing cave with three days stretching ahead of me to sew!  So first things, first...the winner of the faux leather is:


BeckyMc if you would leave your email address in the comments section by Sunday evening (January 20th) I will email you for your home address and get this right out to you on Tuesday.  If I don't hear from you by then I will pull another name on Monday.


This is what's laying on the sewing table waiting to be sewn this weekend...

It's the jacket and the anchor piece to The City in Winter Collection.  I need to come back to this wardrobe and finish it up!  I want to get the jacket and the dress made this weekend but realistically I will probably only finish the jacket.  So we will see what actually emerges from the sewing machine.

I finished the dress to the Pleasant Purple after the weekend!  I like it.  It makes me smile to look at it.  I'm hoping that y'all will like it to! *LOL*

Which brings me to a wearability report ~
I've worn both ponte dresses to work and not only did they both receive a lot of compliments, they were both easy to wear. It's one of the reasons that I love ponte knits so much!  I haven't worn the jacket/dress combo yet...probably because I really want to wear it with the dress I made using the jacket fabric.  So those new pieces will be worn after the holiday weekend.

That's my update for tonight... always more later!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pleasant Purple Dress - Part 1

I was a little concerned when I went to cut the dress' skirt out of the purple woven fabric. If I couldn't get the skirt out of the fabric, I would have had to go back to the drawing board.  Luckily...can I say that again...luckily it worked!  The skirt pieces fit so there's only scraps of the purple fabric left.

Originally the dress was going to be solid purple to match the jacket just like the inspiration picture.  But due to fitting issues, I recut some pieces of the jacket from the extra fabric to make it work.  I have no regrets about that especially since the jacket turned out fabulously ~ if I say so myself! *LOL*  It just meant that I had to rethink how to use the remaining fabric.

So back to the fabric collection and I found the silk border print that was pictured with the fabric in the last post.  I decided to make an empire waist dress using the silk border print on the top with the higher waisted purple skirt.

So the main emphasis of this post is the top of the dress and the lining.  First the silk is thinner than the woven purple fabric. Because of that I needed to take care to make sure that the two fabrics worked together and not against each other.

A 1" strip of lightweight fusible knit interfacing was added to the center back seams to aid with the invisible zipper insertion.  Another 1" strip of interfacing was added to the neckline.  Not just to stabilize it and make it sturdy for the lining insertion but also because I've decided to add piping to the neckline too.  I know, I know it's like I'm throwing the kitchen sink into this dress, but seriously, it's gonna look great!

When working on the lining, I decided that I would rather self-line the top half instead of using a full aubergine lining. That's what's pictured above. The lining hanging waiting to be inserted into the dress.

For the short sleeves I've cut them from another piece of the border print so it compliments the dress' bodice but gives it a little punch.  Of course, if I'm wearing the jacket you won't be able to see them but when I take off the jacket, bam!

The dress is almost finished.  I have about 90 more minutes of work to do to complete it. I'm going to try hard to work on it a little every evening after work. Don't know if I'll be successful but that's what I'm aiming for!

My next pieces ~
I'm going to work on the Vogue jacket and another version of my TNT dress during the MLK Jr. weekend.  Monday is a holiday here in the US, so I will have three days off to sew.  I'm already mentally working through the steps so that I will come out of the gate swinging to get these two pieces completed during the three days.  They are the final chocolate pieces for the City in Winter Collection, that when completed means I have only four pieces left to sew and the wardrobe will be done.  Thank goodness!  I need this to be over so that I can move onto the rest of the items on my sewing list!  However, I am excited and my sewing mojo is firing on all cyclinders.  I can't wait for three more days to wallow! always more later!


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