Friday, May 31, 2013

Guest Blogging and things...

Karen, who authors the blog, Did You Make That, as well as belonging to The Guardian UK's Fashion Bloggers Network, (hey I have to brag on my girl a little, okay?! *smile*) asked if I would write a post for her new blog series, Fabric Focus, so of course I said yes! 

Especially since Karen asked me to write a little about one of my favorite fabrics ~ linen!  If you've been reading here for any length of time, you know that I have two fabrics I love to sew...linen and wool crepe!  I'm kinda seasonal like that! *LOL*  

Anyway, hop on over to Karen's blog and read all about linen.  I hope that you'll find the post informative and worth referring to in the future.  I also hope that it will make you want to purchase a few yards and sew something up!

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My niece's prom dress is up on the Mood Sewing Network.  I have pictures of her in the finished dress, taken at the piers in her hometown.  You can read all about it here.

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I have to work tomorrow, so the sewing machines will be getting a well deserved rest this weekend.  I have no idea what I will be sewing next, so stay tuned! always more later!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

There and back again...

First things first...

The dress is done and delivered.  Delivered it Tuesday after work and it fit just fine. Shew! Since I had to cart it to her, the dress was a little wrinkled so she will have it pressed at the cleaners.  The prom is this evening and I will get final photos later because my daughter, the hairdresser, will do her hair.  The dress will be revealed on the Mood Sewing Network tomorrow.  Go on over there to see it, if you can't wait for it to be shown here.

As usual after a very involved project, I want to make something simple...and actually I will need to because I have limited time for the next couple of weekends.  I have to work one day this weekend.  Next weekend, I have a baby shower on Sunday and the following weekend, my Face Time sewing student will be here for an actual in-person sewing lesson.  See not a lot of sewing time.

I finally sat down and made a sewing list for spring/summer...which is funny since somehow we skipped spring and marched headlong into summer...cause it's gonna get hot here over the next couple of days!  First heatwave of the year.

After years of non-stop sewing, I have a great wardrobe for all seasons.  For the first time in a long time, I don't have this thing pushing me to sew faster to get a few more outfits made before the season ends.  I also have scaled back my fabric buying.  I can't believe that I've blown off all of the fabric sales  for Memorial Day...not one single yard was purchased.  Didn't y'all feel the earth shake when that happened? *LOL*

There is just so much goodness contained in the workshop that I want to use some of it.  Let me state plainly that I'm not feeling pressured or guilty, I just want to use some of the goodies I've collected.  Also included on my list of ten new outfits to be made over the next three months are seven new patterns.  This is a lot of new patterns for me but I want to enjoy the journey this summer.  I want to make some things I haven't done before.  I don't want to rush.  I want to take more than a weekend to finish a garment. I want to wallow.

The one thing this last project took from me was my peace.  Sewing is how I de-stress.  It allows me time to be creative and a calmness comes over me when I spend time doing that which is in direct contrast to my day job.  I loved that I made my niece the dress of her dreams.  However, it came at the cost of a couple of vacation days that I normally use as a refuge from the stresses of my day job.

So there's probably going to be a lot more "in-construction" posts around here especially since one of the patterns I'm planning on using is Vogue 7975.  I've had this jacket pattern since it was first issued in 2004.  There have been at least 50 of these jackets made on PatternReview.  

Please don't think I'm making one of those Chanel reproductions cause I ain't.  I'm in search of the perfect jacket to go over my sheath dress because as I've looked over list after sewing list that I've composed over the years, the jacket/dress combo appears again and again.  I buy enough fabric for the combo and I always start with the dress.  Then I get bored/excited/intrigued by another project and I move on...but the combo continues to appear on my lists.  

So this summer, I'm going to try V7975 in a couple of interesting pontes to see if I can get a good fit.  If I can, then I'm going to move onto some wool crepes for fall and hopefully I can get a TNT jacket.  A jacket that I can make from season to season.  It's now become a personal challenge.  I have to get this off my sewing list.  I've got to get a few in the wardrobe.  I'm probably going to bore the hell out of some of you and that's okay because you'll be going on vacation and you'll totally miss most of it! *LOL*  But hopefully, I will get a well fitted jacket that will enhance my bodacious body, make me look slimmer, more professional and work miracles in my wardrobe ~ and no I'm not talking about spanx! *LOL*

The only designer inspired garment on my summer list is the ponte Talbots dress.  I've hit most of the latest trends ~ bright colors - check; florals - check; embroidery/lace - check, check.  I just want to sew a few new patterns and while away the summer in my workroom since I have no vacation plans this year.

So I've been there and I'm headed back again...back to basics...back to calm & peacefulness...back to sewing for the pure pleasure and joy that it brings to my life. always more later!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

...and the saga continues...

Well I was right...*sigh*  My niece showed up today to take the dress home and as you can see from the photo below...'s still here.  The dress fits but it smushes her bosom.  It's just not flattering because the bodice is too small/too tight/too hard to get on.  After speaking with her, the measurement that was taken was her high bust measurement, not her actual bust measurement.  So of course the bodice is too tight.

The back looks good...

...and I need to add some more lace to the side.

So I will spend tomorrow adding a two inch gusset to the side seam and putting the dress back together to deliver to her on Tuesday after work.

A few things:

  • I'm remarkably calm about the whole thing.  I know I can fix these issues.
  • This means that all of the hand stitched lace on the front has to be removed and then stitched back on after the gusset has been added.
  • The lining has been taken out and will be hand stitched in again.
  • The hem needs a minor correction so that it will work for heels and when she wears flats.
  • The sleeve fit is perfect!  I told you that was a dayum good sleeve! *LOL*
  • ...and the back is perfect so it won't need to be reworked either.

If I'd been able to have a fitting yesterday, I would have been able to fix the dress yesterday & today delivering it tomorrow.  Instead I will spend tomorrow finishing it and will deliver it on Tuesday.  Thank goodness this is a three day weekend here in the States, so that I can take my time and get this last piece to work.

The awesome thing is that both she and her mother were apologizing to me. There was no hysteria about the dress showing up 2 days before her prom...just a lot of gratefulness that she was getting such an amazing dress...and other than the bust issue, she was really thrilled with the dress. At this point I'd make her wedding dress if she wanted because she has been so fantastic to work with. always more later!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Prom Dress Construction Hysteria

Getting a good fit is just the first you have to transfer all of those notes, pictures and pinnings into sewing a wearable dress.  I always breathe a sigh of relief after the fitting.  Then when I go to do the actual sewing, I have to swallow any fears/concerns that I have and get to work.

So I've done all of the the sleeve to work...and before I sewed the lace down I took one final set of measurements to make sure the dress would fit. Now let me say that I'm making the dress to her measurements - her exact measurements with minimal ease.  Hey she's 17 with a great body and a tight elegant dress is fine.  

However, I took the bust measurement and I'm an inch and a half short.  I'm freaking out.  Seriously people freaking out.  I've taken out several of the seams but being the wonderful couture sewist that I'm NOT, I not only sewed the new seams but I removed all of the extra fabric by pinking the seams.  

Of course I'm not a perfect pinker so the seams are larger in some areas than others.  Did I care when I was pinking?  Hell no!  I was just thrilled that I had seams that wouldn't show through the silk.

I even got the sleeve in P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y!  Peoples I had to find a sleeve pattern.  Adjust it down from a size 14, fix the sleeve cap, hand stitch the lace to an organza base, and insert it...then to have it fit P-E-R-F-E-C-T-L-Y was no small feat.  I have to tell you that I'm dayum proud of that sleeve.

Here's where you say, "No problem do another fitting!"  In a perfect world I would. But my niece lives over an hour away and has to work today.  I'm supposed to deliver the dress tomorrow.  I should be stitching the lace down, inserting the lining and hemming the dress...all doable by this evening/later tonight BUT here I sit paralyzed...trying to figure out if the dress will fit or if I need to take out some of the seams again. *sigh*

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Speed forward a few hours...OMG!  My SIL just called and my measurement is off! She will fit the dress top just fine!  I'm off to finish up the dress ~ paralysis is over ~ I can breathe again...

...more later!  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Prom Dress Making 2013

Several of my nieces follow me on Instagram.  When I was making my Mood Lace Project Dress, one of my nieces took particular interest because she wanted to have her prom dress made instead of buying one at retail.  So after contacting me earlier this month, we met to discuss what she was looking for in a prom dress. This is a quick sketch of what we decided upon...

My niece's parents are Pastors and I was struck by how she repeatedly said that she wanted an elegant dress that wouldn't disrespect her parents' ministry or the congregants.  Wow!  How many 17 year olds do you find that have that kind of thought process?!  After looking at the pattern companies online together, she chose this dress pattern (Butterick 4343) as a starting point...

I found some swatches at Mood's NYC store. Then after some back and forth she finally settled on a fabric. I made a quick trip to Mood Friday evening to pick up the fabric and a coordinating trim. This is what came home with me...

A med wt silk crepe back satin & an embellished mint lace

Sunday was the first fitting of the dress.  The base of the dress is a beautiful medium weight silk crepe back satin.  I picked the embellished lace based upon my conversations with my niece.  So I was a little nervous about her seeing the dress and it's components since she'd only seen a fabric swatch.  I was also concerned about stitching the dress together for the fitting.  Silk can be a little temperamental to work with and I didn't want to leave stitching holes in the fabric.

After routing through the stash, I found a spool of silk thread (gotta remember to buy more!) which I used to make a sample seam.  I stitched it.  I pressed it and then I removed the stitches and pressed it again.  No noticeable damage.  So I proceeded with machine basting the pieces together after cutting them out.

Here are pictures from the fitting...

We (my niece, my SIL and my DD) were all thrilled with what I have so far.  She has asked for one sleeve.  So I will find a sleeve pattern to pair with the dress. Everyone loved the embellished lace - big sigh of relief!  So this is what I will be working on during my five day Memorial Day weekend. always more later!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Is Five Black Suits Enough?

My latest make is another black suit.  Hey I work in a conservative banking environment and these work.  As I said in my previous post, I have a month of meetings ahead and I wanted a new black suit to wear.  There is nothing new about the patterns or construction.  I went with TNT patterns and some ponte knit fabric to make one more black suit...

Some stats ~

Black ponte knit from Mood Fabrics
Polka dot cotton/silk from the collection

*Butterick 5760 for the cardigan
*TNT pattern for the straight skirt. 
*I would recommend McCalls 3830 if you don't already have a straight skirt pattern.

*Buttons from Sawyer Brook Fabrics
*Loose small gray plastic pearls from Daytona Trimmings
*Black Rayon Seam Binding
*Strips of black ltwt. fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply

All of these items came from the workroom (what I'm now calling my sewing cave) except for the black ponte which was a recent purchase from Mood's NYC store.

Cardigan Jacket details...
  • The Jacket is unlined.
  • The seams are serged finished.  I was going for complete not couture.
  • I topstitched the center back seam and the shoulder seams.  The jacket front and sleeve hems are top stitched using a twin needle.
  • I thought about adding pockets to the jacket front and decided against it.

Buttons ~
I consider buttons to be like jewelry on the front of a garment. I wanted a plain black button for the front with a little pizzazz.  The button needed to not only work with the jacket but to also work with anything I chose to wear under it.

I started with these buttons...

...and added some gray plastic pearls that were in the notion stash.

I love how the finished buttons look.

Skirt details...

The skirt is a lined straight skirt with a back vent instead of a slit.

Silk cotton polka dot lining

Vent flipped back to show lining

Back view with vent closed

I started a Sewing Workshop Mission Top made with the lining fabric to go with the suit. I've used this idea before with another black suit and it worked so well that I thought I would give it another go. The top is not done so I will finish it during my short vacay later this week to wear with the suit at another time.  

However, when I wear this to work tomorrow, I will wear it with the white t-shirt that I used for the pictures...

It was a simple sew.  Hey, it always is when I use TNT patterns...just a little time consuming.  Another black suit that will work for several seasons has been added to my work wardrobe, just what I needed.  

Next up is the prom dress that I'm making for my niece.  It's my Mood project for June and I've already started construction on the dress using Butterick 4343. always more later!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

I've Been Thinking...

Periodically I go over my wardrobe for a variety of reasons.  Sometimes I want to cull garments that no longer fit, or that I no longer wear...sometimes it's to figure out what I want to sew for the upcoming season. It was a little of both this time...but I did get a few revelations from this exercise.

1.  I don't really wear tops.
There are very few blouses and tops in my wardrobe.  Lots of tank tops and twinsets, a few t-shirts but very few tops.  I don't even sew a lot of tops...and not because I can't...I just don't like them much.  Maybe it's because to me, tops look best tucked in and well I haven't tucked in anything since I was in my early 30's.

2.  I'm the cardigan queen.
Besides the ones I've made, I own loads of them in all kinds of colors, and fabrications.  I reach for a cardigan every day.  I only wear a jacket when I have to for a work function and that fact is reflected in my wardrobe.

3.  I don't sew casual clothing.
ALL of my casual clothing is RTW.  I have no interest at this time in sewing my casual clothing.  Probably because the small and I mean very small section of my closet devoted to casual, is not worth taking away from my limited and very precious sewing time.  BTW, Melodye I've written a post to answer your question, look for it in the next couple of days.

4.  I'm a clothes horse.
I really DO like clothes.  I like making them.  I like owning and wearing them.  I guess I should be figuring out other things to do with my money but clothes make me happy.  I will be sewing and dressing up until I can no longer rise from my bed to reach my sewing machine.

5.  Ponte is my friend.
I'm presently in love with this fiber!  I've made quite a few pieces from ponte and have several more on the drawing board.  I love how this fiber wears and works for my professional wardrobe.  Now I know that some other sewists have had issues with pilling but it's taken years for my garments to have those challenges. I'm sure it's due to the fact that my garments aren't worn that frequently and also because I try to take care of them.

6. I have a lot of skirts...
...that I'm not wearing much lately.  Let me amend that, I wear them just not as much as I wear my dresses.  And I have a good variety of most of the basic colors and some fun & funky prints, as well as plaids.  When I get dressed now I don't always think of a skirt first, even though there was a time that I did.  I'm going to have to try harder to wear some of the pretty spring/summer ones that are in my closet!

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Which brings me to the fact that I'm making another black suit ~ it will bring the number to five black suits in my closet.  This one will join two winter and two spring/summer ones but when we have serious meetings in the office the black suits just work so well...along with the brown, gray and navy combos to break up the monotony a little.  I have about a month of meetings ahead of me, so I will be putting all of my pretty colorful dresses away and head into suit land.

I'm almost finished making the latest version of my black suit and I've made a top to go with the suit.  A coordinated outfit that I won't have to think about just pull off the hanger and wear.  It will show up in the next day or two!

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Are there any Gladiators out there?  I am sooooo hooked on Scandal that I've just re-watched the last episode because I can not believe the ending!!!! Can't wait for the final episode this week and so glad to hear that it's been renewed for a third season.

Wishful thinking...

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Finally, Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers 
and mothers-to-be out there! always more later!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Lately as I've worn a garment, I've looked at the insides differently...trying to assess if I've done the best interior construction that I'm capable of...or if I need to step up my game.

My hems have recently come under my inspection and I've determined that I can do better. Usually the hem is the last part of the garment that I sew before it's complete.  By that time I'm ready to put the garment on, have some photos taken and wear it so I tend to rush my hems.

Now I know better.  I know that a hemline is just as important to the success of a garment as the rest of the construction.  I also know that a wacky hemline can take a dress from well made to Becky Homecky.  I don't think my hems are in Becky Homecky land but I can step it up there.

I once took a class with Cynthia Guffey who advised that a hemline should have three lines of stitching to anchor it and balance out the dress/top/pants, etc.  For a while I followed the three line of stitching philosophy but to accomplish that you need to have a deep hemline ~ at least two inches most times more.  Over time I've found that I don't like hemlines that deep in my garments.  So I stopped using that technique though it worked wonderfully and gave my hems the umph they deserved.

Generally I do make sure that my hems hang evenly around my garment and on me.  Normally I add a rayon seam binding to the hem's edge and hand stitch the hem to the dress.  Most times I add a lace binding to my lining (especially in my dresses) to finish the lining off nicely.  But sometimes I rush.  Sometimes I turn the lining hem up and press not even bothering to encase the serged hemline.

I want to do better.  I want to have amazingly finished hems that I can proudly turn up and show to another sewist.  Hey regular people don't know the difference, so I need to go with the discerning crowd. *smile*

So what about you?  How are your hemlines?  Do you take your time and add a lot of important details?  Or do you rush through so that you can wear your garment?  Also do you have any special techniques that you use to get a superior finished hem?  Do tell - because this is the Question of the Day.  So talk back to me people! always more later!

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

A Digital Ponte Print Dress

I'm on a print run.  I wanted to get two quick spring dresses made from some trendy prints purchased for that purpose, and I didn't want them to linger in the fabric collection. This is the second of the two dresses...

This was the inspiration dress...

...which prompted this fabric purchase from Tessuti Fabrics.

I bought two digital pontes from Tessuti because I hadn't seen them anywhere else.  I was thrilled with how fast they appeared at my home since they were coming from Australia.

A simple straight dress to highlight the fabric's print was what I wanted so of course I started with my TNT dress pattern. I guess I could have started with another dress pattern but honestly I want the dress more than I want the fitting challenge of a new pattern.

After pre-washing the fabric, there was quite a bit of shrinkage and my two yards went from a full two yards to 1 3/4 yards...not enough for a least for my body. I had to come up with a new plan.  

There is a lot of ponte in all colors and weights in my fabric collection.  Hey, I like ponte! *smile*  You all know that I'm a huge fan of print-blocking so I thought why not have a solid red ponte back?  But after combing through my fabric collection, the only red I found was a wool ponte that just didn't work with the Tessuti one.  After fishing through the collection again, I found a blue ponte that did coordinate with the print...

...adding the blue back takes the dress from normal or expected to unexpected and isn't that what the Cavelli inspiration dress is all about?!

Some stats ~

Digitally printed ponte knit from Tessuti Fabrics
Blue ponte from Fabric Mart

22" blue invisible zipper
a little stay tape
strips of ltwt. fusible interfacing

Construction ~
  • The dress is unlined.
  • I cut 2" off the sleeve at the hemline.
  • Then I cut a 3" band from the blue ponte and added it to the bottom of the sleeve.
  • Lightweight fusible interfacing strips were added to the center back seams before inserting the invisible zipper to prevent the zipper from rippling.
  • Turned down a half inch on the neckline, pressed flat and stitched it down.
  • All hems were pressed flat and stitched down.
  • I stitched the back seam closed.  It's a knit dress and there is enough width at the hemline for walking ease.
It was a simple sew.  What makes the dress distinctive is the fabric choices I made and making sure that I cut the fabric to best highlight the print.  Also choosing the right solid ponte to back the dress with was just as important to me.

Some more pics of the dress...

I wasn't sure if the dress would work but after completing it, I'm thrilled with the finished dress because it makes me feel happy wearing it.  This has already been worn to work and it passed the wearability test with flying colors. Not only did it garner quite a few compliments for its color but it also felt like I was wearing an upscale t-shirt dress.  T-H-E perfect work dress for me!

Next up is a simple black ponte suit.  I need another one to add to my serious work wardrobe especially after making all of these fun, colorfully printed dresses.  I've already started construction on it, so look for it soon. always more later!


Monday, May 06, 2013

A Print and Lace Dress

This dress is all about the fabric!  Seriously I bought this fabric because of the lace and floral print ~ it encompasses two of this spring's trends.  Florals and lace...then combine it with the inspiration picture...

I'm so trendy that I'm setting off the trendy-ness alarm! *LOL*  Both this print and the lace were on hand, so I'm making good use of that enormous fabric collection I own.

It's a pretty dress to usher in spring. I will wear it with either my purple Butterick 5760 cardigan or any of the black cardis that are already in my closet.  Love when sewn pieces from the collection work with newly created pieces.

Some stats ~
TNT sheath dress pattern

Rayon challis print from Fabric Mart
Black lace from

Black Rayon bemberg lining
22" black invisible zipper
1" black lace for lining hem
Black rayon seam binding for dress hem

Construction ~
There are a few details that I added to my TNT dress to get this new version of my TNT dress.

Lace at the neckline...
This fabric has a very busy pattern so I wanted something to "fence in" the print and give it definition.  So I made a lace flat binding to add to the neckline. The strip is made from the black lace layered over a piece of black cotton bias binding, pressed in half and sewn into the neckline between the fashion fabric and the lining.

I think it adds a nice touch to the neckline.

The Sleeves...
I cut the sleeve on the crosswise grain using my 3/4 length sleeve pattern.  The selvage edge of the lace made a great finish to the sleeve hem instead of adding one. 

A little gathering at the sleeve cap helped to ease the cap into the dress perfectly.

The lace sleeve is what drew me to the dress and I love how it gives that unexpected lift to the dress.

Originally I was going to use a white lining in the dress.  I liked how the white made the fabric's print look lighter.  But after holding the lace up to the dress, I realized that the white lining would work against the black lace sleeves.  So I went with a black bemberg rayon lining which, of course, made the fashion fabric shade a little darker.  I'm okay with that because I want everything to play nice on the inside of the dress. 

Naturally I added a 1" black lace to the hemline of the lining...why not finish the dress innards as nicely as I finish the exterior of the dress.

A few more photos ~

Conclusion ~
I make a lot of dresses. If you've noticed, lately they have been a little more fashionable and fashion forward, because really how many solid black, gray and navy dresses can you own?  Even in the conservative environment that I work in.

This is the first of the easy summer dresses I plan to make this spring & summer. It's part of my "Fun in the Sun Summertime Dressing" collection. always more later!

Sunday, May 05, 2013

New Patterns

I haven't bought new patterns in a minute. There hasn't been anything in the pattern books that caught my eye and quite frankly I already own quite a few. Patterns that are just sitting waiting their turn to be used, it's so sad.

However, last week a convergence of events happened where the sewing heavens opened up and offered two great pattern sales.  First Simplicity who rarely runs online pattern sales and who in my book could take a lesson from BMV and run more, ran a 48 hour $3.99 pattern sale.  Talk about making sure you use it or lose it!  Thankfully I opened that email in time to partake.

This is what arrived from Simplicity...

Simplicity 2054 - Cynthia Rowley Dress

Simplicity 2250 - Cynthia Rowley
(want to make the jacket)

Simplicity 1885 - Wardrobe Pattern

Then BMV, offered up their new selection of Vogue Patterns and can I say that it must have been a fantastic offering because not only did we slow down the website to an absolute crawl but we also caused sold out signs to appear on the website...something I've never seen on the BMV website on NEW patterns before!

For some reason I was determined to survive the crawl last Friday night and waited through slow loading, some refreshing to emerge victorious with these goodies...

Vogue 1348 - Tom & Linda Platt Design

Vogue 1349 - DKNY Dress

Vogue 1353 - Kay Unger NY

Vogue 8897 - Very Easy Vogue Tunic Dress

Vogue 8911 - Love the lightweight top

Vogue 8916 - Wardrobe Pattern

Butterick 5678 - Blouse

As always when new patterns show up, I want to cut them out and use them right away!  Although realistically that day job gets in the way. Although I'm a little sad because when the patterns arrived, the package was missing this pattern...

Vogue 8902 - Seamed Dress

Now I could have sworn that I put that pattern in my cart!  Guess I mistakenly took it out when I realized that the shipping charge was getting a little too high! Luckily for me, BMV offered another sale that ends today.  So the pattern I was dreaming about using the most is now winging it's way to me!

So did you partake of any of the sales?  Did you get any of the new Vogue patterns?  Or was this just not a great selection of patterns to you?

BTW, I've finished a few need to be taken, blog posts written, so they will show up in the next couple of days. always more later!


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