Thursday, July 24, 2014

Unselfish Sewing

I don't know if you've noticed but I did take vacation this week. Usually I hype these days up in my mind and here on the blog, because they're 7-8 days of uninterrupted sewing bliss.  Not so this time...

Somehow, I've become uninspired to sew for myself.  I have ideas but nothing that's driving me to want to spend quality time with my sewing machines.  I actually thought that I might not sew at all this vacay...but then The Little Prince needed some shorts and my Mom asked for a nightgown from some fabric that she must have cut out years ago.

So Tuesday and Wednesday I did spend time sewing the following:

Five pairs of shorts for The Little Prince ~

Five pairs of shorts - denim, sweatshirt, ltwt. linen, medwt. linen, 
seersucker leftover from this outfit

Seersucker shorts with cuffs

Sweatshirt shorts used twin needle 
sewing  for embellishment

To note the backs of some shorts added a rectangle of stitching
instead of the ribbon that I normally add

The first pair were fitted and sewn on Sunday and blogged about here

Since I was already in the "sewing for others mood", when my Mom shared the cut fabric and pattern with me, I told her that I would finish it up.  No modeled shots but here are some hanger shots for you.  

The fabric is cotton and my Mom just wanted a "house dress" from it.  So I enlarged the neckline...omitted the zipper...and stitched the entire thing together on my serger.  The neckline, armholes and hem were pressed flat and stitched down.

Out of print McCalls Pattern

Dress with enlarged neckline so that my Mom could just slip it on

Full size pic of the dress

The Burda Seminar was this morning and if you attended, I really appreciated it. I have 3.5 more days of vacation before I head back to work...don't know if I'm going to sew for myself yet or if I'm going to watch a lot of movies or read a book. always more later!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Learning to Fit Using Your Tried 'n True Patterns

Today is the last day to register for the seminar!  I really hope you will join me tomorrow at 11 am! always more later!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Charles James Exhibit at The Met

I love The Met Ball and every year look forward to the theme and the dresses. But even more than The Met Ball and the amazing fashions, is the fact that the Ball heralds the opening of a new fashion exhibit at The Met.  To me, one of the coolest things about The Metropolitan Museum of Art is The Costume Institute. 

I've tried to see each exhibit as they've come through in the last couple of years but I was really looking forward to the Charles James exhibit because it originally premiered at The Brooklyn Museum.  Honestly, I was just too lazy to truck out to Brooklyn to see it even though I really wanted to!

So I've been planning to see the exhibit since it was announced.  After a few false starts...I should never plan trips after work because I know they are always going to blow up...a friend and I managed to see the exhibit yesterday, since it was my first day of vacation.

I honestly took a deep breathe before walking in...and truthfully the artistic quality of some of those dresses made me tear up. All of the pictures were taken on my iPad because photos were allowed just NO flash photography thus this is a pretty picture intensive post. I've included pics from the exhibit, as well as, from the book from the exhibit, Charles James by Harold Koda and Glier Reeder.  BTW, I bought my copy of the book back in May from's cheaper and you don't have to carry the heavy book around The Met.

I don't have pictures of all the dresses just my favorites.  The exhibit is staged in two parts - one upstairs (the ballgowns) and one downstairs in the actual Costume Institute space (daywear & coats). I liked the ballgowns upstairs best. The daywear and coats are amazing and I've included one from the book that I liked but the dark lighting and the dark coloring of the garments didn't touch me as much emotionally as the ballgowns did. 

The other thing that is absolutely fantastic about the exhibit are the x-ray arms and computer screens that are included in the exhibit. You know how we always go to one of these and lean way too far in trying to see the details and wishing that we could turn the garment inside out to see the inner construction?  Well the genius of this one is that those x-ray arms, show you the innards.  Not only are they pictured, but then the computer gives you a listing of all of the fabrics and notions used in the construction.  AWESOME!

I watched some of those displays several times so that I could get a perfect understanding of what Charles James thought and envisioned to make these amazing dresses.

So here are my favorites...

The Butterly Ballgown:
This dress was made from a brown silk chiffon, cream silk satin, brown silk satin and dark brown nylon tulle. The combination of fabrics gave this dress an unusual coloration.

Front - picture lightened to see the detail

I loved the mirrored reflection so that's how I took the picture!

Dress pictured in the Charles James' book

Clover Leaf Ball Gown:
To me this is "the" classic Charles James dress. It is just as beautiful in person as pictured.  Loved the Oscar de la Renta tribute dress that Sarah Jessica Parker wore to this year's Met Ball.

Pleat detail on the hemline

Picture from the book showing the original wearers of the dress ~
Gloria Vanderbilt and Austine Hearst

Ballgown from 1948-1949:
This was a favorite of mine because the computer description said that the dress was used in a Johnson & Johnson Modess sanitary napkin ad which made me laugh. After that I referred to it as "The Sanitary Napkin" dress! Again Charles James used two different fabrics for the dress ~ a silk satin and a silk twill.  This dress must have had amazing movement when the wearer walked.

Picture from the book with Marietta Peabody wearing the gown.

Finally, the lace version of The Clover Leaf Ball Gown:
I know I'm overusing the word awesome in this post but this dress' beauty is just jaw droppingly beautiful.  The dress is made from silk shantung, silk faille and silk satin before the lace is appliqued to the top of the dress. I just couldn't get a picture of the dress I liked so I'm using the one from the book.

...and this one because of the zipper application...

(picture lighted to see the zipper insertion)

There was a discussion about our (home sewists) obsession with getting everything perfect when this zipper so obviously wasn't. It curved with the weight of the fabric ~ which was fine.  

Finally, this was my favorite day dress. Also, taken from the book...

Some other thoughts about the exhibit ~

  • Loved that the walls were mirrored and covered with Charles James quotes.
  • That it was on two floors so that everything wasn't jammed together. Also you also got to stroll through the museum to experience other parts of it.
  • IMHO, it's not an exhibit that you can rush through. Well I suggest that you take your time - so you can enjoy the artistry and ingenuity in each garment.
  • By each part of the exhibit, there was a Met store so that you can purchase not only Charles James memorabilia but there was also a Merchant & Mills sewing book, alongwith sewing supplies labelled with Merchant & Mills logo.

The exhibit closes in 2.5 weeks. If you're going to be in NYC before it closes on August 10th, I highly recommend that you head on over to The Met to experience this exhibit. If you're not going to make it, The Met has a wonderful section on their website with video and audio about the exhibit. So check it out!

It was the perfect way to kick off my vacation! An amazing exhibit, a beautiful day and a wonderful friend who willingly wandered around the museum with me and not just The Charles James Exhibit!  It was a good day! always more later!  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Some Shorts for Danny...

My daughter and her family are going to Myrtle Beach for a few days of vacation later this week.  Danny is growing by leaps and bounds and needs some new shorts.  So while she and the grandkids were visiting today, she waited for the babies to go down for a nap and then hightailed it to the sewing cave.

This is a very bad picture of her and Lena sewing (after the nap) and a link to a better one on Instagram...cause you know I grabbed my phone, took a quick picture and posted it...never thought that since the phone is dying, I would be unable to get the darn pic off the phone! 

But back to those shorts...
My daughter grabbed my Kwik Sew's Sewing for Children booklet and looked for the pattern pieces for quick shorts. 

Before I knew it she had the tracing paper out and was copying the shorts. 

Then after a quick trip through the fabric collection, she had a denim, asked for some of my blue & white seersucker, a khaki linen and a gray linen for a total of five pairs of shorts...just enough for each day of their vacation.  

She did ask for some help adding a little width and length for the shorts...but she was moving fast trying to get at least one pair made before the little ones awoke from their nap. She did actually get a trial pair made up and tried on Danny before his sister woke up.  But there were a few adjustments that needed to be made...which we made together...and then the baby woke up.

So I finished them up for her and told her that I would make the other four pairs for her on Tuesday.  Want to see the shorts?

...and on Danny...

Finally, there was a little accident in the sewing cave this afternoon...a little hand picked up the rotary cutter from the wrong end and there was a boo boo. Thank goodness it was a little boo boo and he didn't manage to slice his finger off...please know he was banned from the sewing cave for the rest of the day...*sigh*

That's how I spent my Sunday afternoon.  How did you spend yours? always more later!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Carefree Summer Afternoon...

I don't shop much in the garment district anymore...mainly because by the time I get off work...most of the shops are closed.  Since I rarely have a proper lunch hour, when I go at "lunch time" I'm running in to pick something up and head back to work, as quickly as possible.

So when a really good friend, Gaylen of GMarieSews, asked me to meet her daughter in the garment district to help pick her Mother-of-the-Bride fabric, of course I said yes.  We originally scheduled it for last Tuesday afternoon but the weather was so bad that we changed it to today. 

I'm so glad that we met today because the weather was perfect!  I left home for NYC a little early to stop at a few stores and to savor my time in the garment district...

First stop was Gray Line Linens at 260 West 39th Street. I was there about six weeks ago when I saw these cut out linens...

I really wanted one then but decided to show some restraint. Today I bought this...

...and as I was leaving I saw this shelf...

so the gray striped linen in the picture is a 1/2 yard remnant that they sold to me for $2.50.  It will make a great accent piece.

Then I walked across the street to Paron Fabrics. I don't go into this store much, probably because I remember shopping in that store when it was on 57th Street...and it was an AMAZING store then with the 1/2 price store upstairs. I faithfully followed them to 40th Street, when they had a full priced and 1/2 price store.  I bought a lot from that 40th Street store but the store on 39th Street breaks my heart. It's so greatly reduced from what Parons once was.  Most days I walk on by...but today I decided to wander in.

Everything in the store that's regular price is 25% this came home with me.  

I asked for 2.5 yards but ended up with 3 because it was the last 1/2 yard on the bolt for the price of 2.5 yards. And it was a great bargain to boot!!! 

I still had time before I had to meet up with my friend's daughter, so I wandered into SIL.  I love the threads, hug snug and other things in this store but nothing caught my fancy except for a bottle of Rit Dye, so I headed on across the street to Mood.

It's been awhile since I've been to Mood.  I was good on the first floor but I made the mistake of going upstairs. I love the 3rd floor at Mood, truly I do! Of course, a few pieces came home with me.

...that yellow-greenish silky linen is Giorgio Armani and I had to have it! Also, it didn't hurt that I had $37 in Mood loyalty points to use...*LOL*

Don't worry we did get the fabric for know the whole point for going to the Garment District in the first place!  But it was a great afternoon...wonderful company...way more fabric than I really needed to add...but loved having the time to just wander! always more later!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The Curvy Sewing Collective

I am so thrilled with the curvy sewists who came up with this idea and then made it happen!  Check it out here!

Finally there's a place that caters to the curvy and plus size sewist helmed by these amazing sewists:

Jenny, who authors the blog, Cashmerette
Mary, who authors the blog, Idle Fancy
Tanya, who authors the blog, Tanyamaile
Mary N., who authors the blog,Young Broke & Fabulous
T., who authors the blog, uandmii
Sophie Lee, who authors the blog, tworandomwords
Laurence, who authors the blog, QuirkyPrettyCute

The Curvy Sewing Collective website is planned to be a one-stop resource for curvy sewists, covering topics such as pattern reviews for curvy figures, tutorials on common fitting adjustments, body confidence and positivity articles, and inspiration from the sewing world and beyond.  Future topics include a wrap dress sew along, swimsuit tips and confidence and even...bra-making!  It's open for all sewists and folks who want to contribute to the community: there are forums for discussion, and sewists interested in contributing posts can submit ideas to

In the spirit of full discretion, I am and will continue to be a contributor to the site. I truly hope that you'll surf on over and check it out! There is even a free giveaway of the latest Colette pattern! always more later!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Burda Style Webinar ~ Learning to Fit Using a TNT Pattern

Join me on Thursday, July 24th at 11am EST for a 60 minute seminar on "How to Fit Using Your Tried 'n True Patterns."  To register for the seminar, please check out this link.

I posted this to my Instagram Account yesterday and there was a question raised about the seminar being held during work hours ~ at least here in the US. After checking with the wonderful Burda Style coordinator, who helped me set up my training session and was awesome to work with, she assured me that if you sign up for the training and don't attend in real time, will receive a recording of the seminar.  

So I truly hope that if you want to go even more in-depth on fitting with your TNT pattern, that you will sign up for the seminar. always more later!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Remembering the Elders or the Sewists who've gone before...

Lately, I've been having conversations with my sewing friends and acquaintances about "Remembering The Elders."  Sometimes I think we get so caught up in the here and now, and don't realize that people have been sewing since we human beings donned clothing.

Yes, technology has changed the machinery and fabrics have been updated too but the basics of sewing remains the same...needle and thread is used to take a flat piece of fabric to make it fit our bodies. So sporadically during the next couple of months I'm going to highlight some of those whom I believe are Significant Elders.

The first person I'd like to highlight is Edna Bryte Bishop, who authored several books ~

What is the Bishop Method?
The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction was developed by Edna Bryte Bishop as a sequential, progressive method of teaching sewing based upon fabric grain line, unit construction and short cut industrial sewing techniques. She emphasized grain perfection, accuracy in preparing, cutting and marking fabric, cutting to fit, perfection in stitching, perfection in pressing, attaining a quality look with the right trimming/detail.  Edna said that, "Achieving these principles would enable you to make quality-looking clothes and eliminate "the fireside touch" home sewing has so frequently demonstrated in the past."

Who was Edna Bryte Bishop?
She was born in 1886 in Pennsylvania, and learned to sew as a young girl. She became a teacher who originated the method of sewing using the grainline method.  She taught in schools in Massachusetts and later in New Jersey.  Her method of sewing was promoted by both JC Penneys and the Advance Pattern Company.  They were so popular that she authored the two books, The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction in 1959 and Fashion Sewing by the Bishop Method in 1966.

Now most of this information was gathered from the foreword of her books and/or the website, The Bishop Method of Construction

I own both of the books listed above and consider them important parts of my sewing library.  I found the first book (The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction) at a library sale and a friend gave me the second one.  

Here is what I was attracted to...

Love the embellishments to add to your garments

Collar, lapel and button front trimmings

The pictures above are from
The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction

These chapter pages are from
Fashion Sewing by the Bishop Method

Now, if you want to own a great vintage sewing book or two, I've provided Amazon links.  Although I'm sure other vintage booksellers might be able to find you a copy. And if you only need an internet reference, the website link above will give you a great overview of the Bishop Method, as well as, the ability to join a Bishop Chapter.

Madalynne, also wrote an excellent blog post on The Bishop Method in February of this year. It's how I learned about the Bishop website.  I really think it's important that we continue to honor the legacy of great sewists that have gone before, yet have left such awesome information that can assist us in becoming better sewists today. always more later!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Do you Google?

Or more specifically, do you google requests for sewing techniques?  I'm wondering because I read someone's opinion specifically asking why do we need more beginner sewing books when you can google most beginner sewing techniques.  Also, you can take beginning sewing classes on Craftsy or PatternReview.  So do you google them ~ sewing techniques?

And while we're on the subject of sewing books - how many of us actually collect them and form our own sewing library?  If you do, what kind of books do you collect?  Do you think it's time that publishers of sewing books go to the next level and offer more intermediate or advanced sewing books?  What techniques would you want to see covered in these books?

In this instance I think I'm kinda lucky that I started to sew before the advent of the internet because I have a collection of sewing books both new, vintage and reference that I have studied and can look to when needed.  I do think to turn to them first...just habit.  However, when I write a post about something I always include some internet references because "googling" just seems to be the thing these days.

So if you google exactly what do you google?  And if you have a sewing library, what is the most important book(s) in your sewing library that you'd recommend to a new collector?  Finally, if you've recently started sewing, like in the last 5-7 years, what kind of sewing information are you looking for and how to you want to receive it?

These are my questions of the day.  So talk to me people, I'm really interested! always more later!

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Cutting out Vogue 8972

The interesting thing about this pattern is that I chose to use three different fabrics for the dress ~ a border print for the top ~ a gray medium weight linen for the center band ~ and a black mid weight linen for the dress skirt.

The Smuggler's Daughter fabric is a border print that needed special cutting to maximize the print and make it most effective for my version of the dress. I used the darkest part of the border print at the bottom of the bodice with the lighter part at the shoulder line.

I reversed the placement for the sleeve ~ using the darker part of the fabric's pattern for the sleeve cap and the lighter area for the length of the sleeve. The sleeves will be unlined unlike the rest of the dress.

A few other things to note about this dress ~

The black linen was used before in this dress.  The reason the fabric has sat on the fabric collection shelves so long is because it wrinkled terribly. I'd planned to use it for another dress but was so disturbed by the wrinkling that I moved on.  So for this version, I cut black silk organza for each of the dress' skirt pieces and basted them together. 

left to right:
1st piece - silk organza pinned and basted to line, 
2nd piece that's already stitched, 3rd piece pinned waiting to be stitched

I will use a rayon bemberg for the skirt of this dress.  Why?  Because being real here it works best with my spanx. Cotton linings catch and rise on the spanx, where the rayon bemberg lays smoothly on top of it. But, I don't like rayon bemberg on the top of my summer linings these days.  Being post menopausal, I perspire differently than I did before.  So I cut a white cotton batiste lining for the top of the dress using my pinking sheers so I wouldn't have to worry about raveling.

The center yoke pieces were cut from a gray broadcloth lining...though that picture is looking more tan than gray...

Yes, that's right the lining was cut from three different fabrics, just like the dress was. I cut the pattern pieces from each lining fabric except for the skirt pieces. Those pieces were cut as one front and two back pieces.

I've already started to assemble the dress so that will be the next post...then the reveal...probably next weekend. always more later!


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