Friday, June 27, 2014

An Inside Shot

I saw these dresses hanging and the inside view of the finished armholes made me happy.

See I know a lot of sewists finish off their armhole seams the RTW way by machine stitching them closed. Me, I'm over that. I want to go to the next level with my sewing. To me that means good hand stitching techniques, adding something extra to my garments that RTW omits so that the manufacturer can keep the price point down.  I'm adding more details to my garments because I don't have a price point...I have a point of view.

To me these finishing details separate the novice and the hobby sewer from the sewist who views this as a craft and an artform.  Because do you sew or want to sew like a person on the manufacturing line or do you sew or want to sew like the women in the couture houses in Paris?  

It's like the conversation presently making the rounds about what color serger thread do you use on the inside of your garments. I've asked the question here on my blog and it's now being discussed on several others. Honestly though I'm always amazed when people say they only use four colors (black, white, some form of tan/brown and GRAY). And before anyone loses their minds and says that I'm criticizing them, I'm NOT because you are free to sew whatever way you want. I AM, however, presenting another point of view...and that is...

"Don't you want the inside of your garment to be as beautiful as the outside?" Don't you want to learn and use the techniques that will allow you to wear your garment inside out? Or are RTW standards good enough?

You, alone can answer these questions and believe me, I'm not judging your choices.  However, I want to encourage you to reach beyond what you're presently doing sewing-wise and learn new skills.  Step outside of your comfort zone and try something different.  Grow in our craft - be more - be better!

Now I know some will say that all of these extra steps are expensive and you're right they are. You can cut some costs by buying items in bulk and on sale. You can cut some costs by producing less but of a higher quality. Or you can continue on as you're presently doing. Again your choice because that is really want sewing is - a series of choices you make to end up with a wearable, well fitted garment.

So those are my questions of the day.  Hard ones they are, hopefully thoughtful ones too...please feel free to tell me what you think...that I'm crazy...that I don't understand *LOL*...but know that your opinion will be honored because hey we all have a point of view...all I ask is that we play nice and respect each other's opinion.

So talk back to me... always more later!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

No fabric buying so I buy patterns instead...

Let's be real.  I'm not a big Simplicity pattern owner or sewist.  Most likely because Simplicity hasn't learned the value of a good online pattern sale the way Butterick/McCalls/Vogue has.  I'm sure I own so many of their patterns because of BMV's amazing sales...but back to the topic on hand.

So over at PatternReview, they are running a sale on Simplicity Patterns for $2.99 each through midnight tonight EST.  Sorry about the short notice but I just read the email late last night/early this morning. Which was enough to make me partake, especially since they've included the Early Fall patterns in the sale.  

So this is what I bought...

You know I have some faux leather waiting to become this dress!

I know this looks like my TNT but the 
maxi version with the cut in armholes!!!

Seriously piping in seams in a dress?
I'm so there!

The Dress - I must have the dress!

This skirt because Anne B. made such a wonderful version of it.

I'm sure quite a few of these will end up in the pattern collection untouched for now...but I always have plans...and it's better to have the materials in house when inspiration strikes...y'know what I mean!?!

I'm starting to get a little antsy with the no sewing that's been done.  I'm missing my sewing zen state and how it smoothes out a week...can't wait until next week when I will have some quality time in my newly cleaned sewing cave! always more later!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I cleaned my sewing room...

Yes, yes I did.  I used the vacuum cleaner to get all the dust bunnies from up under the fabric shelves.  I removed all the extra stuff and put my ironing board away (which broke into 2 pieces - what's that about?) Dusted the tables, put things away...generally made the room look neat and presentable.  I even opened the curtains to remind myself of all the fabric goodness...

The main fabric wall - that's been picked over!

View from the cutting table...
and yes that is an overstuffed bin of fabric by the door!

Added some shelving and moved my Threads Magazine Collection
 into The Sewing Cave

Pattern and serger thread stash along with my TV and DVD player

My sewing tools -  Janome 8900 QCP and Babylock Imagine
Did you see Lauren's video on the Imagine threading?

View from the front door

But still no sewing...and none next weekend either.  Next week is my family reunion so I'll be lounging around the hotel pool with the babies.  Speaking of babies, I spent the weekend with the grandbabies and took way too many cute photos of Miss Sammy.  Here is just one...

Posting will be light again this week...but I have a few days off for the 4th of July weekend and I'm celebrating the birth of my nation in my sewing cave. Look for some finished garments, then! always more later!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

One Special Piece...

Truly I haven't been purchasing fabric.  I have alot of it and lately haven't wanted much. However, a very kind friend gave me a gift certificate to Elliot Berman for my birthday.  I wanted to savor the opportunity to purchase one special piece of fabric with this precious gift.

After several trips and a lot of drooling at the Elliott Berman site, I received an email that had Designer Fabrics 20% off...and I knew what I wanted...this Milly piece...

I bought three panels to make a dress - seriously what else would I make! *LOL* But I wanted you to see how this deliciousness arrived...a good presentation always makes me swoon...because to me it means the seller loves the fabric as much as I do!

...and the actual fabric laying on my cutting table...

Now and again, I've used a piece of fabric from the collection and some of the comments have been that they wished they'd been able to buy a piece of the fabric at the time I purchased I'm telling you that if you like this, head on over to Elliott Berman's site where it's still in stock and pick up a panel or two.

Now the amazing Heather B., bought a piece of this lusciousness from Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics fame.  And after checking out Gorgeous Fabric's awesome new website (seriously, y'all need to head on over and see it for yourself!) I couldn't find any on the site so it must be gone. However, Heather made this wonderful dress from the fabric.

I will be using my piece of fabric sooner rather than later...I really don't want it to linger in the collection too long since it will make a great summer frock. And I have a wonderful idea for it, something that follows along with my new sewing idiom (a distinct style or character in music, art). It's number four on my new sewing list - the one I'm actually going to sew - if you know what I mean!

BTW, I've decided to feature on the blog a piece or two of fabric that captures my eye during my travels through the online fabric sites.  I will tell you what I'd like to make with it and then if you like it or not, purchase some or don't. I do have to tell you that I don't discern between higher priced and lower priced pieces of fabric - it's how the fabric speaks to me and if it's a type of fabric that I enjoy sewing with.

Okay...I have a very busy weekend.  The grandbabies are here for the day and I have some other things up my sleeve. always more later!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

A Few Thoughts...halfway through the year

I haven't sewn much this year compared to years past.  Probably because after so much sewing, I do have a pretty amazing wardrobe. I started filling one of the last holes in my wardrobe earlier this year by sewing some basics - I do have a few more solid color sheath dresses that I want to make - but on the whole I rarely wake up and stand in front of my closet saying I have nothing to wear.

So I've accomplished a goal that I set for myself about 6-7 years have 90% of my wardrobe sewn by me. Today I wore the updated seersucker suit. Someone at work asked me if it was new, did I just sew it. When I told them that I made the jacket & pants 7 years ago, and just added the skirt last month, they were amazed...and it is pretty awesome. If you will allow me, I'm pretty proud of that fact. I made a sewing goal, worked hard at it, stuck to it and now I can wear the fruits of my labor.

Why am I writing about this? Because postings are going to be sparse around here for the next couple of weeks...due to normal life busyness...and the fact that I have plenty to wear.

Like I said, this is what I wore today...exactly as it was photographed...

Tomorrow I will wear this orange linen dress that I made in September 2009 with a white RTW sweater...

...and Wednesday I will wear my "Designer Inspired" black linen dress with the short green cardigan...again exactly as photographed...

I spent the evening ironing both linen dresses to get them ready for work...and that's when it hit me. I have plenty of choices to meet any situation in my life. Which is why my sewing is getting more involved and taking longer to complete...cause it will be July before my Smugglers Daughter dress (Vogue 8972) is completed. I hope you'll bear with the silence for a little bit. 

I'd planned to meet some friends out of state during the 4th of July weekend but that little trip has fallen apart, so I will be home sewing instead. It will probably be the next time that I get to sew. I'm hoping that I don't go a little crazy without spending some quality time with my sewing machine! 

I'm sure I'll think of something that I just have to share between now and then but if I don't, don't worry I'm fine...just not sewing for a little bit. always more later!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Vogue 8972 - Dress Back Pattern Alterations

As I stated in my last post, there are ALOT of pattern alterations to get this dress to fit my plus size body.  Because the alterations are so extensive and I really wanted to show the entire process, I split the posts into two. Again, let me state that if you're not interested in the process, please wait until the final post that will show the dress modeled. AND one more codicil, this is how I fit the pattern to me...these are my methods which work for me...things that I've learned through trial and error...they may not be what the experts deem the proper way to fit a garment.

Now, the back pattern piece alterations...
  • I used the same starting point for the back pattern pieces as I did for the front dress back TNT pattern piece.
  • I pinned the new Vogue pattern pieces to my TNT back pattern piece to determine where I needed to add space to make the dress fit me. 
  • So I pin the pieces on and notice that I don't have a side back piece. WTF? I check the pattern instruction to see if maybe I forgot to cut a pattern piece out.  Nah, I cut them all out!  
  • So I read the pattern instructions maybe I'm missing something. Nope. 
  • Start looking at all the pieces again and realize that the front piece is also suppose to work for the back. 
  • Personally I hate that so I start to draft a new piece but then notice that that after making changes to the center back piece, that the side piece does work for the back too.
  • Now I don't know how well this is going to work on my body...but we're going to see!
Some pictures...

Back TNT pattern piece with Vogue pieces attached

Center back bodice piece with 1" alteration

Back side bodice with 1" alteration

Center back yoke with 3" alterations

Skirt back center back with alterations to adjust for fit

After reading Beth's comment on the last post, I did make a change to the front and back underarm to add some space. I also added some space to the sleeve pattern which I altered using my TNT pattern...we will see how that works out!

Next up is cutting out and construction. As I stated before, this is taking longer to get finished because I'm working on it in real time instead of over a sewcation. Also June has been a bit busy for me! always more later!

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Vogue 8972 - Dress Front Pattern Alterations

You should know this before I write it...I used my TNT dress pattern as the basis to make the pattern alterations to the dress.  Now one good thing about this pattern having so many pieces is that there are plenty of opportunities to fit the garment to me.  However, that also means that there are a lot of pieces that need to be altered.

And as an aside, I understand why if you're plus sized, you sew a lot of knit garments, or garments that don't need as much pattern work. Because honestly, even though this Vogue pattern goes up to a size 22, it is not a plus size pattern.

Since the pattern has a custom fit bodice, I'm using the pattern pieces for the D cup size.

Let's start with a picture or two of the size 22 pattern pieces pinned to my TNT dress front pattern:

Full length TNT pattern with Vogue pattern pieces pieced to it

Waist and skirt bottom pattern pieces pinned to the TNT pattern

Top and waist pattern pieces pinned together

There's quite a bit of changes that need to be made. I started with the easiest piece first the yoke. This piece I sliced in half and added 3" to make it fit my dress front.

For the top bodice pieces, I made two changes. I lengthened the side bodice piece by one inch.

The center front bodice piece was widened by one inch at the bottom notch and two inches at the bottom seam.

I'm making one big change with these pattern alterations for the skirt portion of the dress...instead of using a 5/8" seam allowance, I'm using an inch seam allowance.  I've just found in my last couple of garments that I've needed to sew the seams really tight as in 1/2" to 3/8" seam this will just give me a little more room to adjust the fit for me.

Then I added 2" to the center skirt front piece...

...1" was added to the side piece.  All of these additions were done at the inside seam allowances so that I wouldn't affect the basic shape of the dress.

Then I started the process all over again on the back pieces...but since there are just as many changes to the back...I'm going to give it a separate post because this many pattern alterations has got to make your eyes glaze over. Hey they would make mine go blurry!  However, there are some sewists that appreciate seeing the changes made to patterns and how to make them work for a body that isn't the standard. If that's not you, I totally understand! Come back when the title post says "Vogue 8972 - Final" then you know that you'll get to see all the pretty pictures "hopefully" of the finished dress. always more later!

Friday, June 06, 2014

So I've been thinking...

...about what to sew next.  I have the fabric from Smugglers Daughter out on the cutting table with a pattern and it's just not doing it for me...

It's not the fabric but the fabric/pattern combo...and then it hit me.  As much as I want to sew a blouse, I ain't a blouse wearing woman.  Seriously when have you ever seen me in a blouse.  I think I've sewn a shirt or two on the blog.  Maybe if I had a different lifestyle but this current one...mmmmpphhh not so much. However, I really want to use my "gifted fabric" next.

So I went back to my first love - a dress.  I sketched something that I got reasonably excited about and then I realized I had to have a pattern that looked like my sketch...and sure enough I did...Vogue 8972.

This dress is so me...probably why I bought it at the same time that I bought the Vogue 8995 pattern...and look how well that turned out!  So as I thought about it...worked out a few things in my mind...I've come up with a plan. Here's what I'm working with...

My colors aren't looking too true but it's the Smugglers Daughter fabric on top
a gray medium wt linen for the center band
and a medium wt black linen for the straight skirt

I've made a few notes on design and construction ideas in my handy sewing journal...and I'm pretty excited.  See this is the thing...I own a lot of clothes because I sew a lot. The challenge of making Vogue 8995 thrilled me.  Since I own so much clothing, I should be indulging that "challenge" thrill more often because it's not like I "need" anything.  Therefore, my next couple of makes are going to take a minute because they are going to be quite involved...and sewn in regular time not over a three day weekend!

Also, I've decided to try and use a current pattern when I dream up a new idea.  I buy them...I really should use them.  So even though I'm pulling fabric from the collection...if you see a pattern that I've made up that you least you can sew your own version.

I'll be working on pattern alterations this weekend.  Hopefully I can get the fabric cut out too! always more later!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Daytona Trimmings - Have you been lately?

Hands down this is my favorite trim store in the Garment District.  I know there are some better known trim stores - M&J or sewist favorites - Pacific Trimmings but my heart belongs to Daytona.  I've shopped there before they were featured in the first 3-4 seasons of Project Runway.  I've shopped there after they were no longer a part of Project Runway and when other trim shops showed up in the garment district.

Now I've visited a lot of them, bought from several of them and I even frequent one as much as I do Daytona...but I always come home because of this...

...and this


and a little of this...

I buy piping here.  Several types in a multitude of colors.  I buy ribbons here. All kinds and colors.  When I need five yards of a special color of rayon seam binding that I really don't want to own 100 yards of (what one roll of Hug Snug is) I buy it here.  Invisible zippers, shoulder pads, rick rack - please let's not talk about all of the rick rack they have in different sizes and colors. They've even started carrying patterns and buttons, buttons and more buttons, Rit dye, and the out of print patterns.  Finally there's yarn upstairs, as well as, pillow forms and foam.

You want it.  Daytona has it.  It's not flashy or snobby.  The personnel is funky and fun.  Discounts are offered if you buy large quantities...they are just an awesome resource.  Much of the trim in my notions stash comes from Daytona. I can always find something here to take my garments to the next level.

Daytona is located at 251 West 39th Street - closer to 8th Avenue.  Their hours are Monday - Friday 9:00am - 6:30pm and Saturdays 9:30am  - 5:30pm. Yes, they are open on Saturdays!!!  Their phone number is 212.354.1713.  Call them if you need anything.

They also have an awesome Instagram account so if you're on Instagram look them up.  Or if you're coming to NYC any time soon, don't forget to stop by and experience a little bit of trim/embellishment heaven!!! always more later!

Monday, June 02, 2014

The Optical Illusion Dress

The good thing about having a large fabric collection is the many choices available when you start a new project.  Now I know that I said I'd use the new fabric from Elliott Berman but when I landed in the sewing cave Saturday morning, it just wasn't speaking to me.

I honestly just wanted a great "corporate" looking piece of fabric for a sheath dress for work.  Now I have loads of pieces to choose from using that general description. I added the color gray so that I'd only be looking in one section of the collection and lightweight because the temps are suppose to rise this week. These were my two choices ~

Green striped wool/lycra blend and plaid linen

After pulling out and touching the fabrics, the green one really caught my eye...and I knew as soon as I touched it that it should be another version of The Whitney Dress.

Some Stats:

Pattern ~
A variation of my TNT dress pattern

The original Whitney Dress was based upon a dress that Whitney Houston wore in one of her videos.  I made the dress shortly after Whitney passed since I'd spent the weekend watching videos and mourning her.  This is my third version. Each one is different and this is my first spring/summer version.

Fabric ~
Ltwt wool/lycra blend purchased from Fabric Mart December 2012.

I bought 2.5 yards of this fabric because I knew that I wanted a dress but at the time I thought I would add some sleeves, thus the extra 1/2 yard. Now don't think I had the date labelled on this fabric, I didn't.  Fabric Mart keeps a listing of all your fabric purchases and if you leave the label on your fabric you can go back and look at when you purchased them. In my case it's kinda depressing to see how much I've invested in the well being of Fabric Mart! hahahaha!

Notions ~
22" green invisible zipper
rayon seam binding
strips of lightweight black fusible interfacing
bias binding

Construction ~
Since this dress is made from my TNT dress pattern, it was just remembering how I constructed the dress. Usually I check the blog, but this time I just wanted to sew.  

The only construction technique worth noting is how the inserts were added to the dress. For the other two versions, the inserts were cut on grain. For this one I cut them on the bias. So to insure that the bias stretch did not affect sewing the pieces of the dress front together, I added strips of fusible interfacing to them.

The other item to note, is that the dress is unlined. I started with a lightweight seasonal wool blend and I didn't want to make the dress to heavy or uncomfortable to wear. Because the dress is unlined, I used bias binding to finish the neckline and the armholes.  Also, I rounded the neckline a little since the original TNT variation had a v-neckline.

Lately I've been using a four pattern piece back on my dresses, but for this one I used the two piece back. It was sheer laziness that made me use the two piece back because I didn't want to match the plaids across the four pieces. Can you imagine how amazing that would have been though...

Finally since I talk about the good and the bad - I hate my darts! I have to rethink how I'm sewing them because I hate those bubbles at the tip of the was on this dress and the lilac ponte dress...and not a usual feature of my dresses. Back to basics for me...

Design Details ~
When I first pulled the fabric and thought of a Whitney Dress, it was because I wanted to highlight the unusual fabric. I knew that running the stripes down the front of the dress would give it a slim silhouette.  The decision to cut the inserts on the bias was done to play with the optics of the fabric's design.

When I started to put the dress together, I was really struck by how the stripes played out.  I'm so glad that I listened to the fabric...

Please note that I'm back to having my pictures taken by my daughter. Sammy is 4 months old now and my daughter is in a routine, so they are showing up on Sunday afternoons to take pics again. I have to give her a shout out because it's really nice not to have to worry about stray hairs, (and she also does my hair before pictures) weird angles or taking a million and one shots to come up with a few good ones. We've fallen back into our pattern and the last couple of outfits have been shot by her. She's also game to take a multitude of pictures in various spots around the condo to get the best background for my outfits.

This was a one day sew. Seriously I started it about midnight Sunday morning. Went to bed and then got up in the morning and finished it off in the afternoon. Here are a few additional pictures of the dress...

Walking away - the dress in motion!

With a very old RTW cardigan

Truly this dress is all about the fabric.  I love how the design of the fabric highlights the dress and it needs nothing else to make it work.

Next up is a shirt from my Smugglers Daughter fabric...

Lastly, thank you to all who left me birthday wishes. I read each and every one and so appreciate the comments you left. If you noticed in the ten years I've been blogging, this is the first time I've actually written a birthday post. This birthday is a really important one to me...sort of how you feel at 18 and/or 21, 30, so I wanted to celebrate it with all of you!  

Thanks also for the wonderful comments you've left on my last couple of makes. I'm thrilled that you appreciated the time and effort taken to create each one. However, I'm mostly happy that you left a comment either encouraging, complimentary, but mostly because you understand the process. always more later!


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