Saturday, January 12, 2013

Sewing Vacay Wrap Up

Warning:  This is a long post because I have a lot to say so be fair warned!

Sewcation Review ~
I usually write this review immediately after the sewcation.  This year I decided that I would take my time and truly reflect upon it - not only what I accomplished, but what I learned and where I want to take my sewing to.  

First let's start with some stats ~ 
I only made four garments during the nine days, which is considerably lower than in sewing vacays of the past, though relatively the same as last fall, however, I was much more creatively fulfilled.  I'm sure because the pieces I chose to make challenged me in a positive way.

There were two dresses made from my TNT pattern, one was an easy let the fabric speak dress and the other was a designer interpretation.  I used two new patterns, Vogue 8815 and Butterick 5821.  Because I used new patterns and made a designer interpretation, these garments required a lot of thought, alterations to the pattern and thinking out of the box to make them work.

Going forward ~
This is how I want to sew this year.  Involved interpretations of designer originals that can be adapted to my plus size body, more detailed pieces and of course using some of those patterns I keep purchasing!  Of course, I will still make a few quick and easy pieces, as well as, some basics.  I have a very well constructed wardrobe (finally!) and I want to sew more creative garments that fit within my conservative work atmosphere...always a challenge!

Questions and Answers ~
There were a few questions that I promised to 14 of them!  So if there are too many for you, please feel free to skip to the next section.

BJ in TX asked on the post Valentino Inspired:
"Are you going to be playing with your new sewing machine?"
I'm moving the sewing machines around this weekend and will start my next project on it.  I'm a mess of feelings...anticipation, gratitude, desire, fear, LOL! But I did buy it to use so use it I will!

LisaJane said on Twenty Twelve A Review:
"It seems everything you make is a win"
*LOL*  Do I need to remind you of McCalls 6559?  Yes, I have failures but not as many as I use to.  I try hard to remember what styles work for me and sew only them...probably why so many of my dresses look the same! *smile*

Claire (aka Semane) asked on Ponte & Leather Dress - Part 2:
I wonder if a mini-version of your TNT dress pattern on A4 / Letter paper showing the road-map of the jigsaw pattern pieces would serve as a) a handy reminder of what goes where, and b) a useful easy to access n view at a glance version to file away on top of the full-size pieces when you store them? (P.S. I guess a mini version of your TNT pattern F + B could also be used a little like a Croqui when planning new iterations of your favourite pattern too :) ?)"
I think I understand your question and if I've got it wrong, please let me know in the comments.  I guess I made a full size road map. I did save it and add it to the folder where the pattern pieces are stored so there was no need to have a small version.  Also, I seem to sew best when I just go for it.  I try to mentally sew and plan as much as possible prior to starting a garment and that really helps me.  I think I answered your question, not sure?  If not, let me know.

Andib asked on Ponte & Leather Dress - Part 2:
"Is it a stretch faux leather?  How can you press it and not melt it?  Any recommended places to purchase it?"
You know there is a little stretch to it but I wouldn't call it a S-T-R-E-T-C-H faux leather. Now about pressing it - I pressed the fabric on a synthetic setting using steam and a silk organza pressing cloth. I did manage to "bruise" the faux leather in a few places, nowhere really noticeable, so that's how I can tell you to be careful!  Mood has a great selection online of faux leathers, I suggest that you start there.

Pam from South Australia asked on Pleasant Purple Dress & Jacket ~ The Idea: 
"Have I used interfaced backed fabric before?  What's my take on it?"
Yes I have, both purchased with the fusible interfacing back on it and when I've done it myself.  Personally I prefer buying it already backed because its done professionally and I don't have to do it.  I've seen a few pieces in my travels online and if it's available I generally purchase it.  There are a few of these pieces in my collection so if you keep hanging around I'm sure another one will show up sooner or later.

Maureen O'Danu asked on Pleasant Purple Jacket - Vogue 8815:
"What would you say is an ideal project for an ambitious beginning sewist?"
When I taught sewing eons ago *smile* I always started with a straight skirt because based upon the commitment of the student, you can either make one with an elastic waistline or one with the waistband and zipper.  But either way the student walked away with a garment that they could wear and that encouraged them to continue sewing much more than a pillow or tote bag did.  So my recommendation is to make a skirt...make a lot of skirts until you're comfortable to move onto another piece.  A wardrobe of skirts can take you a long way.

Debbie Cook asked on Pleasant Purple Jacket - Vogue 8815:
"Are you sleeping at ALL during this sewcation?"
Debbie I know you asked in jest but seriously I didn't spend as much time sewing as I did vegging and hanging out.  If I had spent more time sewing I would have had more completed garments.  It really was just the perfect vacay because it had the right parts of vegging, sewing and hanging out.  I left the house a couple of see the movie, go shopping and several times to church during the week.  Other weeks, I've totally stayed in the house, not moved and just sewed.  I was trying for some balance this time!

L asked on Pleasant Purple Jacket - Vogue 8815:
"Will you have facings or line to the edge?"
Definitely facings...I really just wanted it to look as much like a jacket as possible.

Gmarie asked on Purple Pleasant Jacket & Dress - Part 3:
"Do you have enough purple left to make a skirt?"
Yes, I do, but lately I'm preferring dresses to skirts.  I will reach for a dress way more often than I will reach for a skirt when getting dressed in the morning.  So mixing it up with another piece of fabric will get the dress I want to go with the jacket.

Romona Sewing Journey asked on Pleasant Purple Jacket & Dress - Part 3:
"Do you give sewing lessons?"
I use to.  I just don't have time any more since my commute is so long and the hours I spend at work are considerable.  I'm making an exception for my niece because well she's my niece! *smile*  Otherwise with the limited time I have available, I like to spend working on garments for myself.  However, one of the reasons that I spend so much time blogging about my process is that hopefully it will help someone else with their sewing.  Show them a technique they didn't know or another way of looking at how to sew a garment.  I know that reading other sewists blogs and sewing forums showed me how they handled techniques that I didn't know or quite understand and allowed me to learn from them.  Hopefully other sewists are learning things here too!

AndiB asked on Purple Pleasant Jacket & The Floral Dress:
"Any tips on where to find cute plus sized belts?"
Actually Andi I bought this belt online at Jessica London.  Here is a link to their current offerings.

Rachel asked on Valentino Inspired - Butterick 5821:
"Is that fabric (the laminated ponte) available online at Mood?"
No sorry it isn't.  They have a great assortment of different colors and weights available online but not any of the patterns or prints that are in the store.  I have suggested to them that they might want to add some to the online store but maybe if some of you also asked that would help.  If you see something on my blog that I've recently bought from the NYC store, you can call them at 212.730.5003 and tell them that you've seen it here. If it's still available, they will ship it out to you.

Jean asked on Valentino Inspired - Butterick 5821:
"What would a small hem stitch have done?  Starting on the edge of the dress and jogging over to catch the trim?"
Okay true confessions time - I only know a few handstitches.  I know that I should take the time to learn more but ohhhh let me see, make something new or practicing some handstitches, people you should know the answer to that one! *LOL*  All of that Jean to say that with my limited handstitching ability that is all I thought to do.  Guess I should have asked a question on that and gotten some feedback, huh!

Techniques ~
The final question is from Animat and I'm going to turn that into another section of this very long post.  

Animat asked on Valentino Inspired - Butterick 5821:
"Please I would like to know did you do a sway back on this dress?"
The answer is no. Personally, I don't like sway back adjustments on MY clothes. I'm sure you're asking why? When if you don't perform them you get all that excess fabric in the back of the dress.

Well, it's because if you have a slim body with a bodacious booty, I think it's attractive and appealing to point to that bodacious booty.  On me, a sway back adjustment removes the extra fabric and points to and illuminates that huge shelf booty that I have.  You could almost sit a glass on it and it wouldn't fall over, kinda booty.  I'm a big girl.  I know this.  Maybe I've managed to make my fat look more attractive but it's still fat and it isn't "The Standard of Beauty" that is presently popular in our culture. Because if it was, y'all would be trying to look more like me and Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, and NutriSystems wouldn't be doing such great business.  But that being neither here nor there, it is MY personal preference not to do them because I don't like how MY body looks in a garment that has one done.

Now if you point to the picture I inserted above you'll ask why does the fabric hang better in the designer inspired dress? Well that one has been pieced.  Also the waistband is curved in that dress which adds to the illusion of a different or better fit. You do know it's made from the same dress pieces as the B5821 dress is, right?

I guess I could not show back shots or only ones where they look perfect...but I don't believe in that.  I'm not a perfect sewist.  I don't believe that garments should be wrinkle free.  The only way a garment is wrinkle free is if you are standing perfectly still and not moving.  None of us are like that in real life so why should we strive for that in pictures?  I do the best I can sewing for what works for me.  

Finally I hope this didn't sound like a rant because it wasn't.  Sometimes it's hard to portray tone in a question and an answer. I was thrilled that Animat asked the question.  I tend to do what works for me when sewing because when I don't, I end up not wearing the garment.  Personally I hope that each and every sewist does what's best for them instead of just following "the rules" because sometimes rules need to be broken. 


Another Ponte & Leather Dress ~
In my post I said that if you were making a Ponte & Leather dress inspired by mine or not to send me a link.  Sewmanju left a link to this A-M-A-Z-I-N-G version of Vogue 8848:

Isn't it awesome?! When you make your version, please leave a comment in a post, and I will feature it too!  

Conclusion ~
Sorry that this has been such a long post!  I was just too lazy to break it up into two posts...hopefully you've made it this far!  If you did, thanks for reading along. Also thank you to the 128 people who left such wonderful compliments and comments on my Designer Inspired Dress.  Who knew that it would be such a hit!?!  Personally I thought the studded Valentino inspired dress was prettier but guess I was wrong! *LOL*

I'm going to work on the Pleasant Purple Dress today and tomorrow so expect photos next weekend - which is Inauguration Weekend!  I'm so thrilled!  So between sitting in front of my TV watching the festivities, I'll also be sewing. always more later!


  1. This was a wonderful recap and I read through the entire thing. So, do you have enough of the purple to still make a dress? I too have been reaching for dresses over skirts this Fall and Winter. Thank you, for supporting, inspiring, encouraging, and being my friend. g

  2. I made it through! I have to say that I think this is your best wardrobe to date. It's so elegant. Very modern. And everything fits beautifully. I really like your sewing plan for 2013. Can't wait to see your take on the next runway fashions.

  3. Ilike the Valentino as well, but the the ponte and faux leather is amazing!

  4. Thank you for answering my question. I have one more. How did you handle the non-stretch Bemberg lining with the stretch of the ponte knit? I've been on the fence about how to line some stretch wovens with using Bemberg. Thanks much.

  5. Thanks for answering my questions. I am so glad that you show back shots, b/c you do such a good job fitting your clothes to your body. I also appreciate all of your"dress up clothes" b/c with my current job it's jeans, tops and no jewelry! (no fun for fashion!) Thanks for keeping on inspiring me!

  6. This has been so much fun watching the progress of the sewcation! You've inspired me tl tackle my fit issues.

  7. Loved the long post, and happily read right through. The sewcation garments are all fantastic and I am watching and learning. Thanks to your inspiration I have just used a twin needle to hem a shift dress, and used a satin bias to edge the lining! Very pleased with both.

  8. Just a plain old 'Thanks!' for sharing your thoughts...J

  9. First, your ponte & leather dress is absolutely stunning... stunning I tell. Also love the biker chick dress with the studs... great details.

    Enjoyed reading your sewcation review and the Q& A.

    Keep on Inspiring.

  10. What a wonderful outcome from your sewcation. Thank you so much for sharing and inspiring so many of us. And like Sheila said I enjoyed reading the Q & A's as well.

  11. Okay, so don't take this wrong, but I was soooo happy to see the wrinkles in the back of your dress. You do such fabulous work and it always look so perfect. I figure if it is okay for you to have some wrinkles, then it is okay for me, a very much less talented sewist, to have some wrinkles as well. Thank you! I rarely comment, but I love reading your blog and always excited to see your posts.

    Love this collection!

  12. Once again, it was so great to read about an issue that has always been my cross to bear - i.e. my bubble butt. I'm well aware of the "sit a glass on it and it wouldn't fall over" anatomy (as well as saddle-bag thighs - there, it's all out in the open now;0). But you just calmly address the issue and move on with your life, and I had a little grin of recognition and felt better about myself also. Thanks for blogging about real people's real issues, because I'm one of those people!

  13. Your blog is such a joy to follow. Thanks for answering mine & others questions.

  14. Those are beautiful new pieces. You made effective use of your sewcation!!

  15. You know you don`t look plus sized at all in you current creations - you have more of a waist than me ! Thankyou for your thoughts on fitting as well. It seems sometimes that we get hung up on perfect fitting . Unless something is really badly fitted most of the clothes we sew ourselves will still be better than bought.

  16. I love these round up posts. Your answers are always so thoughtful and helpful.

    I have a large bottom and a relatively smaller waist, myself. I have all but given up on any dress pattern that doesn't have a waist seam in the back. They just always look so much better. Trying to adjust the fit through vertical darts or princess seams is just never very successful for me. I notice that you do manage to get sheath type dress looking good, but I am not there yet. With so many patterns, more than I can sew really, I wonder weather I actually need to bother to learn to sew the ones that are hard to fit anyway!

  17. Caroline, what a wonderful result of your sewing vacation. I like all pieces but the inspiration dresses are soooo good. Thanks for sharing the process too.

  18. Thank you for the roundup, Carolyn. I am glad you had a productive & balanced sewcation this year.

  19. I made it through most of it. I hate to ask a question after you just answered so many but now I'm just a little confused. Like most black women I have a "bodacious booty" but I thought that was different than a swayback which involves posture is this correct? and Do you know if you still do the same pattern adjustment? ( i know you don't do this)

  20. Carolyn, Your ponte and faux leather dress is awesome. It looks absolutely grand on you and was made to perfection...Thank you for answering my question regarding your faux leather purchase. I do like the website and will be using it. I always enjoy your posts and read your blog all of the time..One of my tops blogs to read.

  21. I enjoyed reading this recap. I'm glad you did a little bit of this and a little bit of that during your sewcation. I've noticed that sometimes I spend all my free time sewing but there are those times where I have an good balance between sewing and going out. It's really nice to go out in an outfit I made. Let me say that the studded and the leather dresses are both awesome. I'm not sure which I like better and you should be proud of your taste and style not to mention your awesome blog.


  22. What a great sewcation - you made some gorgeous pieces and had time to veg out too?! I love the shape and colour of your purple jacket. But I gotta admit that my favourite piece is the black ponte and leather dress. It is so flattering and just so cool! Love it!

  23. Thank you for the recap. I read every word!! And I clicked back to your "disaster" dress... and was thrilled to see that you have the same problems that I do. I guess that is why I gave up sewing - nothing looked right. But I am going to look through your old posts and try to see what details look good on you and see if I can relate that to me. I need something more on top to balance the bottom as I am quite hippy. It doesn't matter if I am small or large because I have been both sizes and still had huge hips. I sure did like the 80s when big football shoulder pads were in style. LOL

  24. I've read through your post and it deserved to be a 'long' post.
    When winter comes I'll tackle a leather/ponte number for sure.

    Sewing casual gear is a quick sew for me but I really enjoy doing tailored and challenging projects. I've just done McCalls 6559 and while it did work for my short frame, I'm looking forward to pattern drafting and draping in 2013.

  25. I enjoyed reading your wrap-up. LUV the ponte/faux leather dress. It fits beautifully and is very becoming. When you introduced it, I was dubious, but you were right! As a plus size myself, I am inspired by your refusal to let size limit what we make and wear, and show that well-made garments are attractive in all sizes. Thank you!

  26. What an awesome collection!! I especially like the black dress with the faux leather inserts.

  27. Hey Carolyn. Great post on the sway back issue! Just wanted to say, thank you so much for featuring me on your blog. I am honoured :-)

  28. Hi Carolyn, Thanks for answering my question : )

  29. I really love the dress with the faux leather accents! Very flattering!

  30. Thanks for answering my question. The whole idea of of sway back is clearer now, I usually find it difficult to decide if I need it or not. Thanks for the clarification.


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! It is so appreciated!


Related Posts with Thumbnails