Monday, September 30, 2013

September has been a good Sewing Month...

Here on the final day of September ~ the last day of National Sewing Month ~ I'd like to do a recap of my sewing for this month.

My sewing totals are always good when a sewcation is involved...and even though this one got off to a slow start it ended well.  I made eight garments this month...none that can be worn now...especially since the temps are going back up into the 80s later this week...but my fall/winter wardrobe is shaping up nicely!

Here's what I've made this month...

1.  The Chado Ralph Rucci Doubleknit Wool Dress

2.  Wool Crepe Dress aka Michael Kors

3.  The Pleather Cardigan and Herringbone Skirt

4.  CRR Vogue 8209 Jacket & TNT Straight Skirt

5.  Ponte & Lacy Leather Dress

6.  Navy & Black Squareneck Dress

A total of 2 jackets, 2 skirts and 4 dresses were sewn that amounted to 8.5 yards of fabric from the collection being used.  I did not include the 4.5 yards of Chado Ralph Rucci fabric since it was my Mood Sewing Network allowance for the month or the 2 yards of black ponte that I purchased from Mood's NYC store for the Ponte & Lacy Pleather Dress in the first total. It means that actual fabric usage was 15 yards...again not enough to make a real dent in the collection but I am starting to see a little space on the shelves which I have no desire to fill.

I started a new project, Five in Five, which is five dresses to be sewn in five weekends.  This project started during the middle of September will extend into October. I also have plans to sew two or three pieces of outerwear in October and November.  I've gotten such a good start on my fall/winter sewing that I can take some time to sew outerwear, some much needed transitional coats.

However, I do have to apologize to the winners of the fabric giveaways.  I haven't shipped your boxes yet...weekends just go by really really fast and the post office is only open half the day on Saturday.  But I will try really hard to get them out this weekend!  

I have outfit number three of the Five in Five on my sewing table.  As my previous post states, I've finished the pattern work on the top and am working on it's construction.  I got off to a slow start last weekend so the skirt portion will flow over into this weekend. I'm collecting my supplies for my next MSN make so there will be news about that too soon.

Finally, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who's left a comment on my September posts.  I so appreciate the fact that you continue to visit my spot here on the internet and leave your thoughts! always more later!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Vogue 8935 - A top and skirt

This pattern has been on my "must sew" list from it's debut in the last Vogue pattern release. Admittedly the artwork on the pattern looks kinda blah but I could see the potential in the pattern.  It will work well for my corporate workplace yet be comfortable...a huge factor in anything I make these days.

From the beginning I knew I wanted to make it using a wool blend navy pinstripe from my fabric collection.  Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted the collar to look like it was a blouse inside a top.  Yeah, I never go simple...*sigh*

Navy blue rayon bemberg, wool blend pinstripe
white cotton pique

So after much thought I came up with a way to make this work.  Some of this is pattern alterations and some is fabric choice but I think I'm on the right track.

First up pattern alterations...

The top front ~ 
These alterations were made by creating a pattern sandwich using my TNT dress pattern, the Vogue 8935 top pattern piece and pattern paper to trace off a new top front pattern piece.

These are the specific changes that I made to get a better fit for me.
~ I shortened the shoulder seam by 2"
~ I used the shorter version (View A) for this top
~ I curved in the side seams to take some of the boxy-ness out of the top

The sleeve ~

~ Again using the pattern sandwich method this allowed me to add to the pattern's bicep area so that they would fit my bodacious biceps. Now I know this doesn't look like a "normal" pattern sleeve piece but I don't care because it works and fits my "not so normal" biceps.
~ I also cut the hem band from the sleeve and added 5/8" seam allowances to both pieces to end up with two separate pieces.

The back piece ~

~ Added a 5/8" center back seam for a better fit
~ A curve was added to the side seam
~ Added an inch to the hemline by tracing the pattern out to the dress' hip line instead of the top's hip line

Fabric choices ~
A navy blue wool blend pinstripe from the collection, probably from Fabric Mart
White cotton pique from was used for the collar and cuffs
Navy blue rayon bemberg to line not only the top but the skirt

Style changes~
  1. To make the top look like two pieces instead of one, I cut the collar and facing out of the cotton pique.  I also cut the sleeve band from the same fabric.
  2. A seam for the center back was added to the top's back to remove some of the boxy-ness of the top.
  3. Added a lining to the body by using the top's front and back pieces.
  4. The skirt will be cut on the bias to give a chevron look to the skirt...adding more detail to the finished outfit.

You can always make a pattern straight out of the envelope and sometimes I do but most times I don't.  To me patterns are just jumping off points for ensembles I envision or am influenced by from other sources.  That is definitely true with this one.

Next post will be about the construction of these pieces... always more later!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Navy & Black Square Necked Dress

Or the second dress in the Five in Five series...

This dress was driven by the fabric.  Seriously.  I found this fabric at Emmaonesock...

...and I added it to some black wool crepe from the collection.

To end up with this dress...

Making the dress ~
I don't think I had a specific inspiration dress in mind for this one.  It's a mash up of quite a few dresses I've looked at and been inspired by in the fall fashion magazines, catalogs and on  However, to get this dress, I started with my TNT dress but used the square neck facing pieces from out-of-print Vogue 8442 to make changes to the dress front and back neckline.

I also altered the pattern so that it would have an empire waistline.

Pattern Sandwich:  Original TNT Dress Pattern,
Square Neck Facing Pattern & Tracing Paper 
to make new pattern pieces

New pattern pieces ~ dress bodice and dress skirt

The dress top and sleeves were made from the EOS fabric...

...and the dress skirt from the black wool crepe.  A lining was added to the dress by using the pattern pieces.

A few construction details~
Since I'm trying to incorporate the things I learned from the Cynthia Guffey 7 Skills video, I added tailor tacks to the darts instead of marking them with paper and tracing wheel.

Tailor tacks

Then ironed the center leg flat and stitched between the tacks.

Making the darts this way, helps to eliminate the pucker that you get when you sew the darts incorrectly.  And even though I know not to backstitch at the dart tip, I've been guilty of doing it.  So now, I do the turn around thing at the end of the dart that Cynthia describes, as well as, no longer starting to sew the dart at the tip.  It's amazing how those simple changes have changed the appearance of my darts.

I used the back facing pieces for the dress back from the Vogue pattern.  This way it had the same high square neckline as the Vogue inspiration dress.

That back zipper is almost perfect but I can live with it!

Resisting the urge to add piping to the neckline and the waistline, I let the fabrics do the talking.  Other than that, the dress is constructed like I normally would.

A few more pictures of the dress~

I really like this dress.  So much so I almost posted it before the Lacy Pleather Dress.  I can't wait for chillier days to wear this one out and about. The EOS quilted lightweight silky fabric that I used for the top was an absolute joy to sew with and it went so well with the wool crepe without any additional fiddling. Love that!

However, I have to tell you that this will be the last black dress I sew for awhile.  It seems like that's the only color or black 'n white variation that I've sewn for the last month.  I definitely need to add some color to my sewing! *LOL*

The third of the Five in Five garments is laying on my cutting table.  Since this is a top and skirt pattern combo that I haven't used before, I will most likely split up the pattern alteration and construction posts. always more later!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The First of the Five in Five Dresses

The first of the Five in Five outfits was inspired by this dress from The Avenue...

...and after a quick trip to Mood Fabrics one Friday evening to pick up a couple of yards of black ponte...along with another quick stop at Pacific Trimmings to get a zipper...this is the combo I started with to make my version of the dress and my first Five in Five piece.

Pattern ~
Dress from my TNT pattern

Fabric ~
Midweight cotton/lycra ponte from Mood
Leftover scrap of lacy pleather from Mood

Notions ~
20" black invisible zipper
black bemberg lining
ltwt. fusible knit interfacing strips
Seams great tape
Seam tape
Stitch witchery
Black cotton bias binding

Pattern Alterations ~
Naturally I started with my TNT dress pattern but I needed to make just one alteration to the dress front to achieve the high bodice look on the inspiration dress.

I measured down a few inches and made a line straight across the dress front and added a 5/8" seam allowance.  The dress bottom was cut with the dart remaining in the dress front because I like darts on my dresses. A 5/8" seam allowance was added to that piece also.  Now the inspiration dress has princess seams in the dress front.  I could have gone that way but I was inspired by the dress. I didn't want to make an exact copy of it.

Pattern Alterations

Close up of dress front on Lulu

Construction ~
The back of the inspiration dress also has a yoke and princess seams. Again, not something I was inspired by but I did want the princess seams. So I used the pattern pieces from the back of the CK Dress to get a closer fit in the back of the dress.

Now I'd originally planned to add a slotted seam and the metal zipper to the back seams. But somewhere in putting the dress back together, I was on autopilot and just added an invisible zipper. I stitched the dress front and back together and when I was pressing the seams open noticed that I did not add the metal zipper. I guess I could have unpicked the zipper but honestly it just wasn't that big of a deal. I left the invisible zipper in. I'll add the metal zipper to another dress in the future.

I added a lining to the dress because my preference is lined dresses. The inspiration dress is not lined which is common in RTW ponte dresses. Also if I hadn't lined the entire dress, I would have had to line the pleather piece so it just made sense to line the entire dress.

A few more construction points...
  • I added seam tape to the shoulder seams to insure that the pleather and ponte wouldn't stretch out.
  • The center front seam on the dress where the ponte and pleather are joined, as well as, the shoulder seams were pressed back onto the ponte side of the seam and then topstitched flat.

  • Since the pleather had quite a few holes at the neckline, I added a strip of black Seams Great to the back of it while sewing the lining to the dress. I thought it would help hold the stitches in.
  • I used a cotton black bias binding to enclose the armholes by stitching it on using a 3/8" seam.  After pressing it flat, I topstitched it down.
  • Topstitching was also added to the neckline.
  • The hem was turned up 1.25" and pressed flat.  I added a strip of stitch witchery to the hemline.  Using a twin needle, I stitched it flat.

A few pictures of the dress...

Worn with the Lacy Pleather Jacket

Back view of both pieces

Do you want to make your own?
I know I adjusted my TNT pattern to make this dress but if you wanted a pattern to start with to make your own, you could use Vogue 8786.

This pattern even has the princess seams below the front and back yokes. You can easily change the back neck slit into a zipper closure.  Wow!  Now that I'm looking at this pattern, I guess I should have just used it, right?! *LOL*

The dress goes perfectly with the pleather lacy jacket.  It wasn't my intent when I made the jacket but that's how it ended up.  At first I wasn't sure the two pieces wouldn't be too trendy for my workplace. Now though I really like them together and believe that I can wear them with no issues.

Finally even Bill Cunningham of The New York Times Style Section has observed women's return to dresses. always more later!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Friday Evening Ramblings

There are a few things that have been rambling around in my brain and I need to get them down here so that I have a place to refer back to when I have a question or need some direction.

Sewing Plans ~

Five in Five...
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I like watching the TV shopping channels, HSN and QVC...especially QVC.  I've copied a few garments from the shows and shared a few of my handbag purchases with you.

However, one of my favorite jewelry designers on HSN does this thing during her presentations called Five in Five. It's usually five pieces that's short on stock that they want to clear out.  So they give customers five items to purchase in five minutes. I was impressed by this so I'm adapting the principle and doing a variation on this Five in Five theory.

I want to make five dresses/outfits in five weekends.  Now I can make a dress in a weekend, even a pretty involved one.  The challenge becomes will I get bored?  Will I get sidetracked by something else? Will I fall down, hit my head and wake up with another list? Well we'll see...although the first of the five dresses is finished.  I just need to get some modeled shots.

Coats, Coats, Coats...
Every year I say I'm going to make a coat.  I pick a pattern. I find some fabric and then nothing.  I need a dress, pants or other outfit more...but what's really happening is that I'm going for the quick sew instead of the involved sew.

Well lately I've been feeling like I've got plenty of everything for fall/winter and I really want to spend the month of October making a coat or two.  I'm sure this has something to do with the fact that I started sewing fall in August.  Because I started so early I have four new dresses, a jacket and a skirt just sitting waiting to be worn.  So the desire to make a coat is strong...very strong.  I'm not talking about a cold weather coat.  I own plenty of them but I am missing those transitional coats, the ones you wear when the weather turns crisp & cool...where you need an extra layer but not too much of one.

This is my first choice.  I'd like to make the shorter version of this Vogue 8937 but lengthen it a few inches out of the boiled wool from Marcy Tilton.

Then this princess seam coat from Butterick 5966, that I'd like in an eggplant colored boiled wool.  Won't that look awesome?

Finally I found this Very Easy Very Vogue pattern (8451) from 1992 in my pattern collection.

Meg just wrote a blog post about, Fall/Winter Fabrics Trend Report by Mood: Soft Colored Coats.  This Vogue pattern looks a lot like the Mugler coat featured in the post. Even though the coats featured in such pretty soft colors are beautiful, they wouldn't work in my every day life...but I really like the silhouette of the Mugler coat. A nice wool tweed with a lining would be a great transitional coat!

Now I don't know how many I'm going to get made before the urge to make something quick and easy occurs but at least two of these will be made.  I'm pretty excited about that too!

A little housekeeping...
I try to answer questions that you've left in the comments.  Sometimes I read them at work and by the time I've gotten home, something occurs and it doesn't happen.  

Sometimes I don't answer them because the question you asked was covered in the post or in a prior post and it seems a little redundant and rude to tell you to go back and reread the post.  Seriously though, go back and reread the post! *LOL*

Also most of my posts are written days in advance and scheduled to post.  I spend a lot of time at work and just don't have the wherewithal to write posts daily or every other day because I'd much rather be sewing. Also with the posts that I write for the Mood Sewing Network, that's a lot of time spent just writing about sewing.  So you may ask a question and it seems like I'm ignoring you or have forgotten about you...but that's not always true. Sometimes I just need to get back to you in a future post.  Which leads to this...

Angela the Creative Diva asked, "What is the name of the lipstick you're wearing? You look so vibrant!" on the Throwback Thursday #1 post.
First can I say that I don't know much about make-up and it doesn't really interest me.  Most of what I know my daughters have taught me.  Just like my's maintained by my daughter the hairdresser.  So with that little backstory, I had to go and look for the lipstick. I knew that I'd blended two different colors to get the one I was wearing. The base is a burgundy color from Avon...but I'm sorry I can't tell you what the actual color name is because the tube is kinda old and the description sticker has fallen off. I am wearing the lipstick topped by a light red lip gloss from the Glazewear line also by Avon.

I have a very light make-up routine.  I wash my face with an Oil of Olay face wash.  I moisturize my face using Oil of Olay moisturizer for Mature skin.  I don't wear foundation.  I line my eyes with a brown/black pencil from L'Oreal. Mascara in brown/black also from L'Oreal.  And lipstick from Avon.  That's it. Hope that helps Angela!

As a parting shot...
Here is a sneak peek at the first Five in Five dress.  Yeap, I used the last large scrap of the lacey pleather.  I've saved the scraps from both of these pieces to use in one last garment.  Let me tell you that was the best $15 I ever spent, since I will end up with not one, not two, but three garments from that 1/2 yard piece!

I'll be working on the second Five in Five dress this weekend. always more later!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Win and a Fail

You know that old adage, "Do you want the good news or the bad news first?" I always go with the bad news first because if someone is asking that question, the good news is never really good least in my experience. So this post is about the final two Chado Ralph Rucci pieces...and I'm going to start with the "Fail" of the title first or the bad news...

First though let's recap ~
I purchased three panels of the Chado Ralph Rucci Wool Doubleknit fabric from Moods NYC store after seeing it on Moods' Instagram feed. Initially I had no idea what I would make with it.  After deciding upon the dress, I still had quite a bit of yardage left.  So I thought a jacket and skirt combo would allow me to play with the purple stripe that's a main feature of this fabric.  My last post was about the dress so this one is all about the suit.

The Fail...

I chose a jacket pattern that I'd used before - Vogue 8209 which is out of print - because the lines worked well with the fabric.  All of the construction details for the jacket are in this post.  This jacket is unlined without any closures. The fabric doesn't really need a lining and that works well with my pattern choice.

Just like the dress, pattern placement was the key to using the fabric effectively. For the jacket I ran the purple stripes down the front and then used the leftover pieces of fabric to cut the sleeves. I thought it would add some interest to the jacket.

However, after taking these photos, I realized that I would NEVAH EVAH wear these two pieces together, they really are "too artsy" for my workplace.  But I did realize that I could separate the pieces and wear them with other garments from my wardrobe.

The jacket pictured with a black ponte dress from my closet...

The Win...
I went with my TNT straight skirt pattern for the second piece.  This allowed me to come up with a suit, a suit that I now know I'm not going to wear. However, this piece will work with a black twinset that is presently in my closet and this is how I would wear it...

Honestly after allowing the jacket and skirt to sit, I will be removing the sleeves from the jacket.  Even though I got the sleeves out of the remaining scraps of fabric, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, I now know it's not.  One of my thoughts is to add some of the black pleather in the collection to the's a thought...but if I do the jacket will forever be relocated to a weekend I'll see.

I love the skirt and will wear it with a black twinset because this look works for me and my lifestyle.  I also have a purple twinset that will go with this skirt so with some tights and my black wedge booties it will be a great Friday look.  

Either way the jacket needs to be revamped, so that it can become a viable member of my wardrobe or dissembled to see if there is another option for it.

In conclusion...
The dress and the skirt were the best items made from the Chado Ralph Rucci wool doubleknit fabric.  The jacket is still up in the air. But I thought it was important to document my failures as well as my successes...because even though I have good intentions, not everything works! Sometimes the fabric/pattern combo trips you up...sometimes the fabric/fit combo doesn't work...I'm sure you know what I mean! *smile*

Anyway, I'm onto my next project so stay tuned... always more later!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Pleather Cardigan and Herringbone Skirt

Let's recap...

I'm on Mood's Instagram account and I see this fabric...

from Mood's Instagram account

...Mood calls it black I call it kewl, unbelievably kewl lacey pleather. I bought 1/2 yard from the NYC store.  I thought that I would use it for a peplum on a jacket but then I got another idea. See I had some black ponte from Mood that I'd been hoarding. Yeah I'll admit it, I have ponte issues, okay?! And when I put the two pieces together ~ the earth moved.  Seriously registered on the Richter Scale...didn't you feel it?

Then I added my TNT jacket pattern to it ~ Butterick 6002. 

I've made this jacket successfully two times before ~ here and here. All of the trials and tribulations for constructing this particular jacket are in this post.

The jacket over my cranberry Michael Kors interpretation dress...

I have to tell you that I'm in awe of how amazing this little jacket looks...over everything. It is so dayum cool, I am beside myself. Yeah it's a little edgy for my corporate day job but so what!  I won't wear it on days that we have very corporate meetings.  I'll wear it on the days that I need to feel corporate-ish yet stylish...and I do meet friends for movies and dinner would be great then too!

Here it is with two of fall's trends together...

Pleather Jacket and a Black & White Herringbone Skirt

A little info about the skirt...
This version was definitely influenced by the Pinstripe Skirt from last week's Throwback Thursday post.  Originally I was going to make a straight skirt with the black & white herringbone but when I laid the fabric on the table all I could see was the chevron pattern above.  So I knew it needed to become the four gore skirt ~ cut on the bias.

2 yards of a black & white wool herringbone purchased from Mood last year and originally used in this Erdem dress.

1" non-roll elastic
black bemberg lining
black rayon seam tape

Construction Information...
I emulated all of the sewing techniques that I highlighted in the Throwback Thursday post, except I did not fold the rayon seam tape in half before stitching it to the skirt.

There are quite a few of these skirts in my wardrobe.  It's comfortable to wear and just works for my lifestyle.

A few more pics of the outfit...

Please note that I'm wearing tights and suede booties with this outfit...indoors...cause I was so hot that I was melting in the house in the air conditioning!  There was no way I was going outside to take photos!!!

Yes, I've used this pattern before.  Yes, I'm using pleather again but it's so hot for fall.  It's everywhere ~ dresses, jackets, shoes & handbags.  I can promise that you'll see more pleather accents on my garments for fall/winter. I've got at least three more items on my sewing list that I'd like to sew.  I'd just like to encourage you to use some (a little or a lot) for one of your own fall garments!  If you've never sewn pleather, come on over to the dark side (dark side get it! hahaha!) and try it out.

Parting Shot ~
I bought these wedge booties and love them!  Just bought another pair in gray... always more later!


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