Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Sewing Bee - The American Version

Are you a follower of The Great British Sewing Bee?  If you're in America did you patiently or not so patiently wait for each new episode of Season 1 to show up on YouTube?  Are you a little piqued that Season 2 hasn't shown up on YouTube yet?  Did you ever sit and think while watching The Great British Sewing Bee that you could do that?  Well here's your chance...


Would you rather spend 100 hours making a dress than $100 buying one?  Do you constantly rip apart your thrift store finds and turn them into your own unique fashion statements?  Have you created wedding dresses for friends, pants for yourself, or even costumes for comic-con?


We're looking for tri-state area (NY, NJ, CT) men and women who are passionate about making their own cutting edge creations to take part in a pilot for a new amateur sewing competition television series.

Love Productions USA, an award winning television production company with offices in New York and London is beginning production on an exciting US adaptation of our BBC2 smash hit "The Great British Sewing Bee" for a major US cable network.

Each week a group of all-new amateur sewing enthusiasts face off in unique challenges that put their sewing and design skills to the test.  Expert judges, made up of fashion industry heavyweights, bespoke tailors and sewing professionals, scrutinize every creation and name each week's winner.

Here is a link to videos featuring footage from the UK version.

You may just be named one of America's best home sewers!

To apply please send an email and current picture to:

For more information on the UK version of the show click here.

If you're interested, please send your info to the link above and good luck! always more later!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Your Top Ten Sewing Blogs

I was going to list the Top Ten blogs and then all of the Honorable Mentions in one post - ummmm not so fast.  I wrote up a list that encompassed FIVE pages of blogs!

So the lists will appear in two posts ~ this first one listing the top ten and the second will be all of the blogs mentioned with links.  That's why I'm doing them in two parts because what's the point of making a list of blogs, if you can't click on the links and visit them.  That will take a minute so look for it this weekend when I have a little more time! 

Finally thank you so much to everyone who left a comment. I would like to explain a little of how this list came to be. If you left the name of a blog that was already included on Madalynne's or my list, I didn't include it on this list, because it was already recognized. The blogs listed below received the most nominations from the comments left on my two blog posts. 

So without further ado, here are your Top Ten Sewing Blogs!

1.  Handmade by Carolyn (13 votes)

2.  Goodbye Valentino (13 votes)

3.  Erica B.'s - D.I.Y. Style! (11 votes)

4.  Stitches & Seams (9 votes)

5.  Amanda's Sewing Adventure (8 votes)

6.  LaSewista! (7 votes)

7.  Lower Your Presser Foot (7 votes)

8.  Real Life Live & Unscripted (7 votes)

9.  Sewing on the Edge (6 votes)

10. Miss Celie's Pants (5 votes)

I thought I would add the vote count so that you'd know it wasn't arbitrary.  I added links for these blogs, as well as, a picture of the author.  All pics are from their blogs and I hope the blog authors don't mind that I lifted them!  I read every one of these blogs and know that each one of them contains a wealth of sewing and fashion information!

As I said earlier, the remaining list will be posted this weekend.  There are quite a few "new to me" blogs and I think you too will find some new sewing inspiration from this list.  After this next post appears, I will merge the information from all of the lists to a new post that will appear at the top of my blog for future reference.

So, I hope your favorites made the top ten of either Madalynne's, my list or the sewist's choice listing. always more later!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Featured Blogger ~ Vogue Pattern Magazine

I really liked Audrey, Sew Tawdry's, post when she was named the Star Blogger for Vogue Pattern Magazine in the last issue.  Unlike her I have no great story just a lot of happy emotions.  I'm thrilled...honored...humbled and amazed that I am featured in this month's (April/May 2014) issue of Vogue Pattern Magazine.

So I guess I should start at the beginning, huh?! The amazing Kathy Marrone, Vogue Pattern Magazine's Editor, contacted me at the beginning of December and asked if I would be interested in being interviewed for VPM.  Of course I said yes...I mean despite the fact that I was jumping up and down, screaming at my computer monitor and generally acting a fool...of course I said yes! *LOL*

Then because the magazine requires pictures with a higher resolution than I normally shoot, I enlisted the help of a trusted friend, the awesome Oonaballoona, who is currently killin' it at Project Sewn, to take some new photos for me.  So for anyone who suggested the photos in this post were photo shoot quality, well yes you're right they were/are.

Marce, did an amazing job didn't she! I couldn't have done this without her help and I am so grateful that she gave up an afternoon to spend with me and take these awesome pics...because finally I get to share some of the outtakes with you...

...and a little duckface...

This is my version of Vogue 1370 ~ a Kay Unger designer pattern.  My sewing journey is documented here.  In my review on PatternReview, I wrote this, "this is an amazing design and by using a variety of fabrics could get you a dress for work, or a dress for a funky outing if you used leather or faux leather inserts, or a cocktail dress if you used lace or an embellished fabric for the inserts."  It's an awesome dress for the plus size sewist and I highly recommend getting a copy and making your own version!

Now if you don't already subscribe to Vogue Pattern Magazine, can I encourage you to do so. I've been a reader of the magazine for at least 30 years. I've subscribed for the last decade because not only does it show the latest patterns sewn in fantastic fashion fabrics but it also has wonderful articles on sewing techniques to up your sewing game. It's been a vanguard for our sewing community for years.  I hope that you will support this publication so that it can continue to carry the torch for many more!

I hope you don't mind but I pushed the Top Ten Sewing Bloggers List back a day so feel free to keep offering up your top five favorite bloggers. I'm kinda excited about this honor and I definitely wanted to show some love to the fabulous Ms. Oonaballoona! always more later!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Please Don't Forget!

I hope you'll take a moment and list your top five sewing blogs on this post by tomorrow evening.  I really would like to compile a listing that encompasses your ideal blogs, as well as, mine.

Thanks for all of your very kind comments on the Painted Wool Herringbone Pieces.  It seems as if the vest was the hit piece and the vest/skirt combo the most liked.  I have to tell you that I haven't worn that outfit to work yet, probably because I haven't been in the mood to change clothes.  Most of this week has been spent in pants outfits.

I do have a wearability report on the Painted Wool Herringbone dress because that did get worn to work.  I honestly didn't understand why the pics of the dress seemed to have excess fabric from the waist down.  I mean I made the dress exactly like I always do.  But in wearing it all day, I really noticed that extra space in the thigh area.  So I will be taking it in about an inch on each size removing the excess fabric and pegging the hem a little.  I believe this will solve the problem...I'll post another pic after I've fixed the dress.

Finally I'm not really a Winter Olympics kinda girl.  I mean all of that snow, ice and cold not my cup of tea. However I did watch the women's and ice dancing figure skating but I really bring this up because the Olympics is over this weekend.  Regular programming comes back to television and Scandal will be back for eight episodes without repeats starting Thursday evening...I can't wait!

I have something to do tomorrow so I won't be in the sewing cave.  I'll be back Sunday to finish up the brown knit dress.  I'm halfway through the construction and have an idea to add a little sass to the dress, so I'm looking forward to spending some time in the cave to complete it.  I hope you will get to spend quality time with your sewing machine this weekend... always more later!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Painted Wool Herringbone Pieces ~ The Dress

At first I was just going to make a basic sheath dress with a little piping at the neckline and armholes.  My standard work dress.  Then I saw this dress on the Jones NY website...

...and I loved the tabs.  I knew that not only would they bring some interest to my "basic" sheath dress but they would help add to the allusion of a Martha would say, "that's a good thing!"

I could have gone with same fabric tabs but I wanted a little more drama after all of the basics I've been sewing. What can I say? Even though I work in a conservative atmosphere and dress that way, underneath it all, I'm a brightly colored, vivid print kinda girl!  So I try to bring a little drama to my outfits within my company's dress code.

Construction of the Faux Leather Tabs with Buttons ~
That's why I indulged my love of faux leather with the side tabs. I didn't use a pattern piece for these tabs.  They are a combination of measurements and a quick tutorial that I read on Dixie DIY's blog.  This is what I did...

1. I pinned out the path of the belt ~ from the center back seam to a place on the front that looked good on my body.

2. The tab was made by taking the length from pin to pin, then adding 1.5" to the measurement.  My final measurements were 14" long by 2" wide.

3. Since I was using faux leather as my tab, I decided to use lining fabric as one side so that the tab wouldn't be too bulky.

4. Next I opened up the center back seam about 1" wide.

5. Inserted the band and stitched the seam closed.  Then I pinned the band down the back side and side front.  I know sewists are encouraged not to pin their faux leather but these slight marks can be eased out with a little rubbing. Also you'd need to be right up on that tab to see a tiny little pin prick.

6. The band was stitched onto the dress using a 1/4" seam.  The first band honestly wasn't stitched down as well as the second one.  Instead of stitching in the same direction, I went around the band causing the faux leather to pucker.  I didn't make that mistake for the second one.

7. A good press using my silk organza pressing cloth and my clapper to hold everything flat resulted in passable tabs.

8. I stitched black buttons with gold fluted edges down on the front of the faux leather tab.

More Construction Info. ~
I added black piping at the neckline and armholes.  This was always in my plan because the print is unusual and if there wasn't a start and stop place for the eyes, it wouldn't work as well.

The lining is the heavier satin lining for the same reasons I stated in my skirt post. The lining does have a little lace at the hemline. 

Again there is quite a bit of hand stitching in the construction ~ piping basted down prior to insertion, lining hand stitched to the zipper tape, the bias binding at the armholes sewn to the lining, and the hem hand stitched.

Otherwise, the dress is constructed just like all of the other sheath dresses recently made.

Dress Particulars ~
TNT dress pattern ~ if you want to make one of your own, try Simplicity 1586 because adding the tabs is easy to do.

100% painted wool herringbone 

Satin printed lining
faux leather scraps
Two - 1" black & gold buttons
22" invisible zipper
black piping
brown striped bias binding (I found another roll in the bias binding stash!)
brown rayon seam binding
1" lace trim

Finally a few pictures of the dress...

Conclusion ~
Well we knew I wasn't going to stay with simple and basic for long, it's just not in my creative DNA.  I like the challenges that constructing this dress brought. It is my basic silhouette but with enough interesting details to elevate the style.  I'm really thrilled with the dress because if you put it next to one of the simpler sheath dresses, you can really see how the details make this dress distinctive.

As I was setting up the camera to take pictures, my Mom saw my dress and asked to see it up close.  I turned it around so that she could see the front and the back and then turned it inside out so she could see the finishing.  And then it Mom said, "that the dress was so well finished that you could wear it inside out."  Peoples, best compliment EVAH! *Score*  *doing the happy happy dance* *LOL*

I went back and forth over whether or not to make one final piece to go with this grouping or to move onto a new piece of fabric because I'm feeling very red. However, everything is threaded with brown thread so it just made sense to keep working with this color scheme.

I've had this brown knit fabric in the collection for awhile, though how long I have no idea because this piece is missing it's fabric tag.  Mentally I've paired it with this pattern for quite some time because  the pattern has a copyright date of 2006. That means both have been in the collection since before I moved.  Anyway, this is what's up next. I will be moving onto some red wool doubleknit after that... always more later!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Painted Wool Herringbone Pieces ~ The Vest

I haven't sewn a vest for myself in years.  The last one I made was pre-blogging days, so definitely awhile ago.  I made loads of vests for my daughters when they were little girls.  Vests that took an hour, an hour and a half at most ~ yes back when I was production sewing ~ pushing as many garments out of my sewing machine as fast as I could since I was clothing so many people with it.  So of course I went into making this piece thinking quick & easy and I'd be moving onto the next piece shortly.

Well that couldn't be further from the truth.  Even choosing a pattern took a couple of hours because I had to go into deep pattern stash to find a pattern. Let's not mention that I also touched a lot of patterns, pulled them to look at further and now have a sewing/inspiration list that's doubled in size. 

Here is the OOP Burda pattern that I started with...

...something conventional and fitted...what you think of when you hear the word ~ vest.

satin lining which was also used in the skirt
fusible interfacing
black piping
3 - 1" brown buttons

Cutting and Construction ~
Of course when I went to lay the fabric out, I needed to get creative with the layout to make the pattern pieces fit on the small amount of fabric I had left...

Then because I don't muslin, I basted all the pieces together to see if they fit. Amazingly, there were only a few minor tweeks that the vest needed but it basically fit out of the envelope. The most important change was made to the vest center fronts where I shaved some of the extra fabric off the bustline curve making it less pronounced and a little more fitted.  

I have no specific measurements for this because I winged it. I should have changed the pattern pieces for the vest fronts and the lining pieces too but I'm not even sure I will make this vest again. The lining pieces were cut from the fabric front and back pieces.  This too is not the correct way to do this but I'm going with the flow and hope you will forgive me!

Now here is where the extra time came in...I decided that I wanted the vest to emulate the skirt. This means that the fabric placement was the same as the skirt's placement and black piping was added to the center front vest seam.

Also because I had a limited amount of fabric, I used some black wool crepe scraps from the collection for the facings.  Since the pattern called for the facings to be interfaced, I block fused the scraps prior to cutting out the pattern pieces.  I wanted to make sure that I didn't shrink the facings by applying the interfacing to the already cut pieces.

The other really important aspect of making this vest is how much time I spent pressing it ~ an hour and a half. It was a slow process because I pressed a section then used the clapper to set the pressed area. I tried to give each section one to two minutes before I moved the clapper and pressed the next section ~ see slow.

The pattern instructions were easy to follow and I used them since I hadn't made a vest in awhile. The instructions were very clear on how to insert the lining which went together smoothly.

A few pics of the vest worn with the skirt and a RTW black turtleneck...

I really like this outfit. It's not something I've worn in quite some time and it's portable...meaning that I can wear the vest and turtleneck over my jeans to work. Then I duck into the Ladies Room and change into my makes my daily commute more comfortable...yet I look professional at work. Honestly, even though I've made several new pairs of pants this season they're my cold weather fall back. So I'm always looking for ways to wear dresses and skirts during the winter season.

If you want to make a vest like this and don't own my OOP Burda pattern, try McCalls 2260. The size range is from XS - XXL...

or KwikSew 3185 in sizes XS-XL ~ both patterns are currently in the online catalogue and are on sale now through February 20th.

Next up is the dress from this painted wool herringbone fabric... always more later!


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