Friday, January 31, 2014

In Response to your Questions...

There have been a few questions about procedures and things that I've previously blogged I'm going to put all the links in this post.  I will also link this to my "Popular Posts" tab for future reference.

First up ~ I've written a pretty involved post on how to prep wool crepe in this post, "Prepping Wool Crepe."  However, Pam Erny, who authors the blog, Off The Cuff, wrote a blog post on pre-treating wool crepe in the dryer called, "Pre-Treat Wool Fast and Easy at Home."  This is the method I use now for pre-treating my wools.

Here are a couple of pants blog posts that I've written about how I make and/or remake pants

Lauren - this wide view shot is for you!

Remaking A Pair of Pants
This post shows how I take the lining out of a pair of pants and how I underlined them, as well as adding in the waistband elastic.

Sunday Afternoon Ramblings
from December 2010 has an entire how-to on how I apply the waistband elastic. However, this is important to know...this elastic is no longer manufactured. At the time a source was located at Create for Less, they are no longer carrying the elastic after they sold out of their stock. I've tried to locate it by contacting Wrights but no luck. So soon, well as soon as my stock is depleted, I will be trying out new alternatives.

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LauraSJ asked on the "Pinstripe Magic ~ Dress & Skirt" post:
"Do you have any special tips for laying out the pattern pieces and cutting to get the most from your fabric? Do you use a single layer cutout? I've heard this is more economical, but I don't really understand why. Thanks!" 

Laura ~ I answered part of your question in the comments but realized that I needed to give this question a little more space.  First it's important to realize that the reason I was able to lay these pieces side by side is because the fabrics were 62" and 64" wide. It was definitely one of the reasons that I purchased this piece.

Next ~ I always use a with nap layout when placing pattern pieces on fabric. Simply stated, "with nap" means that all of the tops of the pattern pieces face one direction. The reason for this is if you're using a fabric with a specific pattern or color shading, it allows all of the cut pieces to look the same or the pattern to work well across all of the pieces.

The Vogue/Butterick Step by Step Guide to Sewing Techniques defines it this way...

"Layout used for cutting fabrics that have brushed surfaces (fleece), pile (velvet), woven or printed one-way designs, and texture (satin, brocade).  All tops of pattern pieces and all grainline arrows should point in one direction. For richer color on velvets and velveteen, place pieces so nap runs up. Otherwise, place pattern pieces so nap runs down."
The Editors of Vogue and Butterick Patterns

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There were several comments about the "seated hip measurements" and even some comments about my use of TNT patterns. I want to say here that I have very few original sewing ideas. I have though spent many years learning and studying my craft. I first heard about fat spreading from Colleen Jones, an amazing sewing teacher that really elevated my sewing to another level. However, Barbara Deckert also talks about it in her book, Sewing for Plus Sizes, Creating Clothes that Fit and Flatter.

Also, I was communicating with another sewist and she asked a question about how I came up with the idea of TNT patterns. Again, I learned this from Shirley Adams. She hosted a sewing show on PBS called The Sewing Connection that I watched religiously every Saturday afternoon.  There are a few episodes on YouTube now.

A shout out also to Nancy Zieman who had and still has a show on PBS called, Sewing with Nancy and Sandra Betzina who had a show on HGTV in its early days called, Sew Perfect. Although she has an amazing site complete with videos called, Power Sewing.

I'm referencing these because so many sewists search the internet for sewing knowledge these days.  However, I learned through books and sewing shows on TV...sort of like Craftsy now.  Anyway, I encourage everyone to not only look at the newer sewing players on the scene but to look at some of the sewing teachers that have been in the game for awhile.  There is so much knowledge there to be accessed.
...stepping off soap box now...

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Jolsen asked, "How do you launder your wools, do you dry clean them?"
Yes, I do dry clean my wools.  But as someone else noted, I have a large wardrobe. Unless something is really a favorite a garment usually only gets one or two wears a season. So it takes a minute for something to need to be dry cleaned. I'm a huge proponent of hanging items to air out before putting them back into the closet. I do this in my laundry room. I believe this also helps with not having to dry clean a garment so often.

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Lastly I'd like to give a wearability update on a couple of pieces I've recently worn. First, the faded plaid pants are pillers - yeap, where the legs rub together the fabric is/was pilling.  I did remove the pilling when I got home but it will make me choose these pants last when needing a pair to wear. There was no way to tell during the purchase, construction or finishing of these pants that they would be pillers because the fabric had smooth fibers. But they pill so some of the shine is off them.

The four gore flare skirt was easy to wear...however...that polyester lining can be a little clingy. Okay who am I fooling ALOT clingy.  So the antic static spray got a workout that day but otherwise the skirt was great and the outfit garnered a few compliments.

Thanks to everyone who've left a comment on the garments that I've highlighted this week. A very special thanks to everyone who commented on the photographs. I still see some areas where I can improve but I have learned that having some fun is the way to go with the picture taking. always more later!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pinstripe Magic ~ Dress & Skirt

I bought four yards of a wool crepe grey & cream pinstripe from Fashions Fabrics Club, that is presently sold out.  As an aside, I remember now why I stopped purchasing from takes forever to get the fabric!  And it didn't help that a snowstorm shut the middle of the country down a few days after I ordered. However, that's neither here nor there because the fabric did arrive and only scraps of it remain now.

In my quest for more basics...what could be more basic than a gray wool crepe pinstripe fabric.  It's perfect for the conservative environment that I work in. So after a quick trip through the dryer (love, love, love this pretreating method now!) I was able to get a basic sheath dress, a pair of pants and an elastic waist longer length straight skirt from the fabric.  This post is about the dress and skirt which are the next pieces in my "It's All About the Basics" series.

A basic sheath dress from my TNT dress pattern ~

22" invisible zipper
white braided satin piping
polyester charmeuse print lining
gray rayon seam binding
bias binding

This is my TNT sheath dress with some white piping at the neckline and armholes to give the dress a little pop!  To make the dress a little less boring, I used a vivid print polyester charmeuse print for the lining...

Lining Alone

Lining inserted into the dress

...and I used the last of this striped bias binding from the notions collection at the armholes.  I'm going to miss this bias binding...I've used it in quite a few dresses and made piping from it too.


This is how I will wear it to work...

...with a RTW ivory cotton cashmere cardigan and some Kenneth Jay Lane pearls that I purchased several years ago because they reminded me of Michelle Obama's Erickson Beamon pearls.

Gray long straight skirt ~

1" non-roll elastic
polyester lining
gray rayon seam binding

This is literally a large rectangle based upon my hip measurements with elastic in the waistline and a slit for walking ease.  I wanted the skirt to be close-fitting but not so tight that I couldn't sit in it.  I sit for most of my day so it needs to be comfortable.  To figure out the right measurement, I sat in my sewing chair and took my hip measurement, then added an inch.  This measurement is larger than my standing hip measurement, because let's be frank here people, fat spreads.

I added a lining to the skirt even though initially I wasn't going to.  I was going to do a quick and easy sew and wear a slip.  But me being me, I just couldn't let it rest. So the lining is the same rectangle just a little shorter with a 1" lace trim added to the hemline.

Honestly, I chose this length for the skirt because I wanted to wear it with these shoe booties. Hey I'm cold and I'm using everything I own to stay warm! *LOL*  

A few more pics of the skirt and cardigan, how I'd wear it to work...

Yes by this time I'd gotten quite silly!

I'm onto my next sewing adventure.  I'm finishing up another sheath dress before I return to the Crazy 8 wardrobe pieces and the Simplicity 3833 dress. I'm believing that it's not going to remain frigidly cold forever. When we return to decent winter weather, I'll pull out my new sheath dresses to wear. always more later!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pinstripe Magic Pants

I'm thrilled that I've gotten one more pair of pants sewn this month.  This makes my third pair. Which when added to the previous pairs made, and the ones already in my closet, gives me so many more options for cold weather survival.  Comfortable...professional...and warm for cold weather wearing.

1.5" wide Soft & Easy Stretch elastic
Rayon polyester designer lining
gray rayon seam binding

Since I'm on a basics kick these are another pair of underlined pants made from my TNT pattern. I used the same construction techniques that I used for the navy blue wool crepe ones and the faded plaid pair

The lining fabric for these pants is a designer leftover that I picked up from a trip to Jomars in PA years and years ago.  There must not have been much of it originally. I only had three yards at 45" wide and I used almost all of it.

Pants seams

Polyester Lining

The gray pinstriped pants are perfect for work and can be dressed up by adding a jacket (my 60s Inspired Vintage Jacket)...

...or more casually for a regular work day with a RTW twinset...

As you know, it's been extremely cold in my corner of the world lately so these new pair of pants will come in handy!  Next up are the Pinstripe Magic dress and skirt. always more later!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Basics in Navy Blue

I purchased four yards of a navy blue poly/wool blend crepe from Fabric Mart last month. Due to the width of the fabric (62"), I was able not only to get a pair of pants (already blogged about) a four gore skirt and a sheath dress from the fabric. This post is about the skirt and dress.    

The Navy Blue Sheath Dress
As per one of my last posts, I'm making a few sheath dresses in solid colors and this is the first one.  I can't believe that I don't own a navy blue sheath dress so now I do...

I used my TNT dress for this but I'm changing the construction of these dresses up just a little.  I will be using the seamed back for this dress and all of the rest of the dresses in this series.  I like the fit this look gives me in the back, so it will become my standard/go-to dress back pattern pieces.

Otherwise there are no changes to the construction of the dress.  I used navy blue piping at the neckline and armholes as I have in previous versions of my TNT dress.

Materials List~
Navy blue rayon bemberg lining
22" navy blue invisible zipper
navy blue piping
navy blue rayon seam tape
black bias binding

If you're looking for a dress pattern similar to mine, may I suggest...

A few more pics of the dress and the RTW cardigan (Isaac Mizrahi from QVC) that I'll wear with it along with my red patent leather Bandolino pumps...

The Navy Blue Four Gore Lined Skirt

Materials List~
1" no-roll elastic
Polyester charmeuse printed lining

Since I'm working with basics a TNT pattern was used to make this skirt, too. I've made this skirt quite a few times so there is nothing new or interesting about it's construction.

I did use a fun lining to add some zing to a boring basic navy blue skirt. Encased the casing in bias binding and added one of my labels to the back of the skirt instead of my usual ribbon loop.

The hems on the skirt and the lining are machine stitched and the skirt was finished.  It was an easy sew that will be perfect for work.  On really cold days, I wear my jeans and sweater or jacket combo to work and change into my skirt when I get there. Skirts are easy to transport so they are my favorite garment to wear on single digit days.

A few pics of the skirt in action...

Wearing skirt with Isaac Mizrahi cardigan
& Bandolino navy blue patent leather pumps

and a twirl shot

Here's a picture of all three "Basics in Navy Blue"

I'm calling this series of garments, "It's All About the Basics."  All of the pictures were taken by me using the tripod and quite a few of the suggestions that were given in this blog post.  I really want to thank everyone for their comments, suggestions, and encouragement because I think these pictures are even better than the last set. This gives me hope that I will improve in the picture taking department.

If anyone is experiencing the same photographic challenges that I am, can I just encourage you to keep at it.  Today was a really good day, picture wise. I started early.  I realized that it was going to take time...a lot of time *LOL*! I didn't use the full length mirror only because I need to get one.  I really don't want to take the one down in my sewing cave and it's been too cold to venture out to pick one up.  Yes, I am a cold weather wimp!  

Finally, the reason that some of these are so interesting/cool/different is because I turned music on while I was taking them.  It made a huge difference because it loosened me up and some of these are dancing shots. It also made up for the fact that I was alone which is taking some getting use to...I do miss my daughter and the grandkids!

Anyway, I've taken pictures of all but one dress so look for more garment posts. always more later!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

This is Why I Have a Spare

See my year old Janome sitting on my cutting table?  Why do you ask? Because it won't sew a straight takes three or four stitches and then it jags to the side and jams.  Next weekend I will be taking it to the sewing machine shop to be repaired...

Thank goodness, I have a spare plus one.  I pulled my Janome 6600P out and set her up so that I can finish up my weekend sewing.  But I can already tell that I'm going to miss my 8900.  The extra large opening, all of the light, and the weight of her is missing in my 6600P ~ though I'm not complaining.  I'm thrilled that I have a spare to turn to so that I can keep on sewing.

It's interesting because just this evening, I was thinking that when I go on vacation in May, that I would put both the 8900 and the Babylock serger in the shop for their annual check-ups.  Guess the 6600P and the serger will be heading to the shop in May instead because their big sister is going in sooner than that.

This really stinks because my iPad died this week too.  I googled it and did everything suggested and still no go.  I will take it to the genius bar at the Apple Store but I don't have much hope for it.  I'm especially bummed cause I can't remember the last time I backed the dang thing up and just hope that "the cloud" held onto most of my stuff!

This means there will be next to no fabric buying going on around here. Sewing machine check ups cost almost $200 for my computerized machines and that's before repairs. I was rocking a iPad2 so will upgrade to an iPad Air but this is an unforeseen expense. Thank goodness I have a well stocked sewing cave!!! I'm also thankful that my next couple of projects are all from fabric that's already in the collection.

I'm sure my 8900 will be fixed and returned to me soon but I'm missing my favorite things already... always more later!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

It was a good weekend...

It was a good weekend ~
Even though I was invaded by grandchildren and my nieces and nephews...

Snow Day~
...and had to deal with 13" of snow on Tuesday...which allowed me to stay home and sew another pair of pants...

This was the first six inches of snow...

Holiday Weekend Sewing ~

These are the pieces I finished during the MLK weekend...

Grey wool crepe pinstripe lined dress, navy wool crepe lined dress
Gray wool crepe pinstripe pants, navy wool crepe 4 gore lined skirt

...and this dress shell...which until I put it on Lulu...I was so on the fence about that I was going to rework the front.  I'm liking it a little better now.  I will finish it up this weekend.

Anyway, I know it's hard to imagine how these pieces will look on me, so pics of me in the garments soon!  Along with a little conversation about why I chose to use these fabrics, sew these pieces and what is driving my sewing now. always more later!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Loving the Clothes I Make

It seems like my last couple of posts appear to be piggybacking off my fellow bloggers.  This is because I've been so impressed with what they've written and their words have really inspired me.  Today, it's Erica of EricaB's DIY Style. Her post, "What I'm Wearing" had me nodding along as I read it. As I was crafting my response to it, I realized that I had more to say than I thought I should leave in the comment section.

However, it was these words specifically, "I've gone through transformations in the almost decade I've been blogging.  Which means, over the years I've learned the benefit of sewing things I'm going to wear all of the time and return to season after season." that touched me.

I strongly believe in this type of sewing. That's why even though I love the awesome and amazing dresses I've created, my sewing for the next couple of months will be basics.  Yes, I'm going to finish the last four pieces of the Crazy 8 wardrobe and yes, I'm going to finish up the Simplicity 3833 dress but mostly what I want is a series of sheath dresses, a few more pairs of pants, and a skirt or two.

Why?  Because when I go to my closet on Sunday evening to pull the garments for the week (yes, I'm one of those people!) I find that I have a lot of amazing, wonderful outfits to choose from but barely any basics.  I want solid colored sheath dresses in an array of colors that I can throw some pearls and a cardigan on top of and be ready for any work situation.

I need several more pairs of pants so that if I need to spend two weeks in pants due to weather conditions, I don't have to repeat and can dress them up or down for any situation at work.  Honestly, I've let my basics slide as I've made designer knock-offs and amazing patterns one after the other. Now I didn't start out this way.  I sewed the basics first and then went for the shock and awe.  My mistake, for lack of a better word, was when I retired a basic, I didn't immediately sew another one to replace it.

All of this is to say, that there will be a lot more basic sewing going on around here.  I need to plug a hole in my wardrobe and basic sewing just isn't sexy sewing.  It's not the sewing that makes everyone want to go oohhh and aaahhh over but it's much needed in this sewist's life.  Then when this sewing is done I'll be back to sewing things like this...

...and this...

or this...

and maybe even a new adventure or two.  I hope you'll stay tuned and hopefully I'll even have a tip or two to share that will inspire your sewing. always more later!

Monday, January 20, 2014

MLK Day 2014

On April 3rd, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his last speech in Memphis, TN.  It was his, "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech.  I've included the last three minutes of the speech below:

At 6:01pm on April 4th, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated and that act changed the fate of a nation.  This weekend and especially today we celebrate the life of a man who gave all for the principles he believed in.

...more later...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pictures and a little more...

I just wanted to share a little more of my picture taking journey.  So when you guys get tired of these posts just click away or complain! *LOL*  I might listen...I might promises.  Some of this is for me and some of this is because it's just so dang funny!

Sunday afternoon I realized that it was sunny and there was enough natural light in the living room in front of the fireplace to take a few pics.  So I quickly ran upstairs, put some curls in my hair, a little make-up on my face and carted everything to the living room to try out the camera.

Things I learned...
  1. This is going to take a lot longer than when my daughter took my pictures because getting the right shot takes a lot of trial and error.
  2. Learning where to set up the camera to get pictures that are not just head shots is important.
  3. Don't shake the camera, even on the tripod, because then the camera takes photos that are out of focus.
  4. I'm fat up close - gotta remember to get those pictures ALOT further back and the tripod set up higher! 
  5. Haven't yet mastered taking a photo without all the extra background noise - thank goodness for being able to crop and adjust the exposure!
  6. I need more than two poses - it gets boring quickly.
  7. Smile like I'm smiling at someone instead of the camera - those shots look more natural.
  8. Patience, patience, patience. You take a shot. Wait the ten seconds. Go back and check the picture. Lousy shot start all over again.
  9. I will get better with time.  Just need to keep doing this over and over and over again.
Wanna see some of the poor shooting...out of focus was the worse offender...

Clear as a bell right?!

Dark and WTH am I wearing?

Dark, too much furniture in the shot.
Sure, I don't need to include my head in that shot!

Way too much stuff in the shot and do I know another pose?
Also WTH is going on with my pants?  It looks like the winds blowing!

The main thing I learned last weekend ~ this is going to take time especially since there is no one to tell me when I've got a hair in the wrong place, to stand up straight, to make me laugh, make sure my clothing is straight, etc. But I finally feel like I'm making progress and no longer HATE the camera! Marce so glad that you didn't take me up when I offered to give it to you!!! *LOL* Finally I didn't use the point and shoot at all last weekend and I'm so proud of myself for that.

Since I'm making progress there probably won't be too many more posts about learning to use my camera.  I may ask a question here and there but I can tell you the whining is done.  Plus I found folders on Pinterest that lead me to sites that I'm going to try and use along with YouTube.  I.feel.accomplished *LOL*.

It's a long weekend - 3 day holiday, so beside lunch with my daughter today, I will be ensconced in the sewing cave making my sewing machines hum and my iron hiss! always more later!


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