Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tri-Color Ponte Dress Final

In the week's time between cutting out the fabric and stitching it together, I realized that I did not like the color combination I was using.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with the combo except that it didn't pop for me.  So I changed it up a little, resulting in this dress ~

Now this dress has a lot of color and not what I normally wear to work. However, how many black dresses can I own? This dress also has a tighter fit and a slimmer silhouette due to the seaming and my fabric choices. 

There are no new sewing techniques in this dress.  Yet another reason for sewing a TNT dress - no fitting challenges and no sewing surprises.  It is also an exercise in lazy sewing. Originally I was going to add a lining...once I was actually sewing the dress...nope didn't want one.  I considered adding fusible interfacing to the center back seam for the zipper...nope didn't add any...and the dress turned out okay. Turned down the neckline seam and the hemlines at the sleeve and dress hem, added some stitch witchery in the hems and topstitched them down.

See sometimes I just want to sew up a cute dress.  I don't want to get involved...lose myself in construction details...sew, rip and sew again. Sometimes I just want to sew a cute a dress and that's just what this dress is.  

So some stats...
Pattern ~
TNT dress pattern altered from an already altered version of the pattern.

Fabric ~
Berry ponte from Fabric Mart
Black ponte from Fabric Mart
Black & White print ponte from Fabric Mart

Notions ~
22" berry invisible zipper

Here is the inspiration dress again ~

Besides the color and print changes, the designer original sells for $995. It's made from a 53% wool/47% rayon blend and is unlined. My version is from rayon/lycra ponte blends and costs about $20. Approximately $18 for the fabric and about a $1 for the zipper all from The Sewing Cave.  In my book this was a very successful interpretation of the designer garment.

A few more pictures of the dress ~

I know we say all the time that we shouldn't point out the faults in our garments, but I'm so-so on the sleeves.  They could be better...but since this is lazy sewing...they are okay...and I will wear the dress as is.  What's really interesting is that everyone who saw me in the dress said how pretty it was. I really think the color combo is so striking that it's what you notice the most.

Next on the cutting table is McCalls 6988.  

I have two versions planned - the one discussed here and another one that I want to try with some knits first.  These are involved sews so it will be a minute before the finished garments appear on the blog.

...as always more later!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Remaking an old friend...

It's the time of the year when I start to assess my fall/winter wardrobe.  I'm switching things around in the closet and looking at what I have to either keep, purge or fix.  This dress came up for review.

After making this dress in January 2012, I've worn it only once or twice. Mostly because the fit in the sleeves and armholes is a little wonky.  Not too wonky to wear every once in awhile but not very comfortable either.  So I decided to remove the sleeves and remove the stress.

...and now it's back in the daily rotation and looking even more like the Erdem designer original from his Resort 2012 collection.  An hour or two of work and a renewed dress.

Adding bias binding to the armhole

Topstitching the bias binding down

The sleeves after they were removed from the dress.  I wanted to show them because of the way that I lined and hemmed them.  This is using the Nancy Zieman method of lining a sleeve. I don't use it often but when I do I love the effect.

A few more views of the dress ~

Side view of the dress

I've included a back view even though I realized after 
taking these pics that I'd forgotten to iron the dayum thing!

Although I haven't pictured it with a cardigan, that's the way I'll be wearing it as soon as the temps drop because it was summer this weekend...my air conditioning kicked back on because it was so warm!

...as always more later!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Can We Talk...About Fit?

Often a comment is left on one of my blog posts about the fit of a dress or how I fit myself. I have to admit that fitting has been a journey.  A journey that I've been on for the last 20-25 years. So my fit has evolved over time and nothing about it has been quick...it's been a true process...and I wouldn't even say that I've arrived...since I'm always trying to do better.

So let's talk about this fit journey.  When I first started sewing, I was a young woman with a firm body and very few fitting issues outside of a booty.  My measurements fit well within the parameters of the pattern companies range even my height did not give me issues.  For many years I blissfully sewed straight out of the pattern envelope.

Then I had children and my body started to change which of course meant pattern alterations.  Although honestly, those first alterations were easy to accomplish because I was still a size 10/12 in RTW sizes.  It was only after my third child was born, that I started to gain weight.  I worked a full time job, had three kids, with after school activities, a husband, a household to run and church activities.  A full load with very little time for myself...so the weight gradually crept on.

The one good thing is that I sewed through all of this...for myself, for my kids and even for my ex-husband. I also used the same pattern over and over because funds were tight and I needed to get as much mileage from a pattern as I could. So my fit and TNT pattern journeys were intertwined.

I've lived through several different fashion cycles which of course means different types of fit in women's garments. Of all the cycles, the present day cycle of very close fitting garments is the one that's most challenging for me.  I'm extremely uncomfortable in a very close fitting garment, so I avoid them like the plague.

I understand that a close or very closely fitted garment is the norm now...but it's not what I personally want to wear.  So I struggle with this issue every time I make a garment. I hate calling attention to my backside. Where other sewists make a sway back adjustment, I don't. However, that pooling fabric at your back waist is considered "a bad fit".  

Honestly, I don't mind it but to compensate, I've started using a 4 seam back because I also hate back darts. This gives my garment the illusion of a closer fit without the skin tight look I abhor. Yeah, I know I sound like a crotchy old woman!

I just think fit is subjective and I've addressed this before here. I also don't believe that you need to remove every last wrinkle from a garment. Especially because so many times the sewist removes so much ease from the garment, that it only looks good standing still. 

Sometimes I will take a picture of a garment that feels good when I sit in it...that moves with me and I know will work in my active work day. Then I post a picture here and someone will say something about my fit both positive and constructive...often in the same post.  

Normally I don't respond to these posts...cause fit is subjective and everyone is entitled to their opinions...especially because I know what works for me. Other sewists make closer fitting garments and even though I'd never make a garment that fit that way, I respect their right to sew and wear what makes them happy.

However, I do have a list of things that I consider ill-fitting and try not to include in my garments ~
  • dart points that end higher than my bust points
  • shoulder seams that hang off my shoulder blades
  • too tight sleeves at the biceps
  • too long sleeves
  • garments that cup my abdomen
  • hemlines that are wanky
  • necklines that don't lay flat or gape
Am I successful in each and every garment I make ~ ending up with a well-fitted garment? The honest answer ~ no.  But then I don't profess to be an advanced, perfect sewist...just a very enthusiastic one.

Finally, this post isn't written to bash anyone, to accuse anyone, or to stop anyone from writing their opinion here. It's my reflections on why I fit the way I do and how fitting is a continual journey.  One that I will be on until the last day I'm able to sew.

...as always more later!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Tell me about your tools...

The thing about sewing is that the more you do, the more supplies you realize you need to sew well.  Okay technically you can use a regular mid-level sewing machine, some pins, a medium price pair of scissors, and a couple colors of sewing machine thread to make a garment.  But how many of us sew with the bare minimal amount of supplies?

Which leads me to multiples of sewing supplies...see I realized the other day that I own quite a few basic sewing tools.  5 or 6 sewing gauges, 4 magnetic pin holders, 3 pairs of duckbill scissors, 3 tweezers, about 100 bobbins, etc.

It got me to thinking...do other sewists collect as many supplies as I do? Or am I really just a hoarder...an organized hoarder...but a hoarder just the same!?!

So this is the Question of the Day - do you collect multiples of sewing tools? And if you do which ones do you hoard/collect the most of?  Inquiring minds and all that so talk back to me people!

...as always more later!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Bubble Dress

This is one of my favorite dresses...

I would wear it at least once a week if I didn't own so many other dresses. I've even bought quite a few yards of fabric in 2 yard lengths to make more of this type of dress. So a couple of weekends ago when I had minimal desire to sew, I thought of the dress, made from my TNT dress pattern, and this piece of fabric...

...to make another.

Pretreating the Fabric ~
I posted this fabric shortly after it was purchased either here or on Instagram and a very kind soul told me that they had bought it also AND that when they prewashed it, the colors ran...so I washed and dried it with a color catcher. Thankfully the colors didn't run but the color catcher was definitely discolored...

Also, the fabric had a slick hand prior to pretreatment.  Afterwards the fabric was a little fuzzier, much fuzzier when pulled out of the dryer than after it was pressed. It's also a little heavier/thicker ~ like the fibers had felted or fluffed up a little. Nothing that would dissuade me from using it but definitely noticeable different from its original form.

The Stats ~
A ponte knit from Fabric Mart purchased earlier this year

TNT Dress Pattern

22" invisible zipper

Construction ~
This is not couture sewing. There are no awesome sewing techniques in this dress but there were no awesome sewing techniques in the original dress either.

Just some good basic sewing...
  • The center back seams were interfaced with a lightweight knit interfacing to stabilize the fabric prior to inserting the invisible zipper.
  • There is stitch witchery in the hemline prior to using a twin needle to machine stitch it flat.
  • The neckline and armholes are pressed flat and topstitched using a twin needle.
  • Like the original, this dress is unlined too and will be worn with a slip.
  • Lastly the back pieces have been replaced with the four pattern piece back that I've used in my last couple of dresses because it solves all of my fitting issues in the back. It also gives my dresses a closer fit. 
  • BTW, do you know my dress front pattern piece is larger than my back pattern pieces. My measurements side to side are larger in the front than the back so that is compensated for with the difference in front and back pieces.
It was a quick yet satisfying sew. The fabric is what makes this dress special and why I'd like to make a few more since I own a lot of wonderful fabric. 

Here are more pics of the dress...

From the side back

From the back

Side View

How I will wear it with a black cardigan 

Finally, I know my last couple of posts have been really serious but I've been playing this Taylor Swift song non-stop all weekend.  Now I'm not a huge Taylor Swift fan but the beat is so good and the video is very funny so it's been on repeat while I sewed.  Please realize that this video doesn't reflect on the seriousness of the previous posts...just my love of a good song and an even better video.

...as always more later!  

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Catching Up...

As evidenced by the lack of sewing posts here, I have done very little sewing this week...or even last weekend...not getting past the pattern alterations and cutting out the fabric for the tri-colored ponte dress.

But this is what I have been doing...

I saw the movie, "No Good Deed"

I loved it...I've heard others didn't give it the same review but I go to the movies to be entertained and I was...so good movie for me!

Then two evenings later, my daughter and I caught the musical, "Motown". They are presently running a special through November 26th for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evening shows - rear mezzanine tickets are $59 each. My daughter and I decided to go on Wednesday morning and got great seats for the Thursday show.  If you're in NYC or nearby this is a fantastic deal and I highly recommend that you see the show if you haven't already!

Of course my fabric showed up from Fabric Mart...and they are such classic fall colors...both of which I hope I'll be able to sew up sooner rather than later...

I've realized something, my fabric buying is way down from prior years.  It may not seem like it to you but I can tell.  One - there aren't as many boxes around - lol - and two I'm not struggling to find places to put all the extra fabric.  Actually I'm quite enjoying shopping from the collection.  So there will be a lot of garments sewn from fabric from the collection going forward.

Today I'm in the sewing cave watching the Scandalous Marathon on BET, which brings me to this...there was a NYTimes article about Shondra Rhimes that I don't understand.  I will just point you to the original article and several others about it here and here

I'm working on the tri-colored ponte dress today so hopefully it and the Bubbles Dress will show up here on the blog soon!

...as always more later! 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Tri-colored Ponte Dress - Part 1

I found this dress on the St. John website...

photo credit:  www.nordstrom.com

...and I knew it was perfect for some of the larger ponte remnants I have hanging about.  I've been collecting them to make Miss Lena leggings but some are quite large...so it was just a matter of coming up with a combination that I liked.

I'm not an animal print girl so I was never going to "copy" this exactly.  Here is the fabric combo I'm using...

...not quite as exotic but it will work for my lifestyle. The St. John dress is primarily black, however, mine will be primarily berry. I wanted a more colorful version of this dress than the original. Plus I just really liked the combo above because it's unexpected.

Pattern Alterations ~
I started with the version of my TNT dress last used for my #fatquarterchallenge dress.

The original TNT dress pattern pieces... 

The larger side front piece with tracing paper over it to trace off the center piece. Deciding how to portion off the pieces was arbitrary. I guessed what looked proportional to me and then measured down - making sure that I used the same amount at the top, middle and bottom of the piece.  Then I added a 5/8" seam allowance.

Then the third piece of the front was traced off. Again a 5/8" seam allowance was added to the side.

The two new pieces plus the original side piece where placed with the 5/8" seam allowances on top of each other to make sure the pattern pieces went together properly.

Front pieces fanned out and ready to be placed on the fabric to be cut out. These alterations were simple and I finished them in an hour.

Cutting the Fabric ~
I was worried that I was going to have problems making sure that the fabric worked the way that I wanted but since the back is a solid berry color, I think I will be fine.

I used the four piece dress back patterns that I've been using lately to get a better back fit. I really think that this is going to become my standard back now because it just works for my body and gives me a great fit.

...and that is as far as I got this evening because when I went to thread my serger it got all testy on me!  The nerve of it right?! *LOL* So I walked away and left it. Now I know that I don't need to serge finish the ponte knit because it won't ravel. I just like the clean finish look inside my dress. I believe it's worth the extra effort.

Time just got away from me this weekend so I'll have modeled pics of the finished dress next weekend along with pics of "The Bubble Dress" as I've taken to calling the red fabric featured in the ponte problem post.  

Although I do have a sneaky peek of it on Lulu to share...

...as always more later!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thank you for your kindness...

I would like to say thank you to everyone who left a message on my #WhyIStayed post.  Whether it was to offer support, to say that you too were a victim of physical or emotional abuse, to say that the post changed you, or that the situation angered you...I appreciate each and every comment. Especially after I read a statistic that 1 in 4 women in America suffer a form of abuse, mental or physical. That means that if 100 women gather in a room, reasonably 25 of the women in the room are suffering or have suffered some form of abuse and often in silence.

The only other thing I'd like to say before moving on is that I don't believe I'm brave to share this story and honestly I no longer have any shame regarding this period in my life.  Every one of us experiences challenges in our lives, whether it's the death of a child, terminal illness of a loved one, a degree of poverty, or of heartbreak...no one moves through this experience we call life without something affecting us.  

We all have stories to share that can ease someone else's burden as they make this journey.  The challenge is to share those stories, so that we know we're not alone.  The challenge is to show love and understanding, because you don't know what the woman or man standing next to you is going through...but most especially the challenge is to love each other as we love ourselves.

I was truly touched by the response to this post, cried a few tears and cheered a little bit but most sincerely from the bottom of my heart... 

Thank You! 

Now back to sewing...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I had a totally different post that I was going to put up today but after reading several articles about Janay Rice and the trending hashtags on Twitter #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft, I realized that I should share my story too.

I'm sure many of you would never guess that I'd been abused during the first years of my marriage.  I don't appear to lack self confidence and if you've met me in person, you know that I'm pretty vocal and don't put up with much ish. I came from a family of two working class parents, reared in middle class suburbia and my father never touched my mother.

So how did I end up in a situation where I was abused?  The amazing thing is that it never happened while we were dating or engaged but it happened frequently and often after we were married.  

My ex-husband and I met at church after I'd been to college and had a 4 year old daughter. I was friends with his older brothers and I thought he was mouthy. We use to hang out as a group because we didn't believe in sex before marriage.  This group of friends went to a concert at Carnegie Hall and I was seated next to a man that I really liked.  He'd acted like he really liked me too, so much so that the other males in our group left me alone, but that night he was just rude...seriously downright rude and nasty.  So my ex-husband changed seats with him, made me laugh and was extremely kind to me.  We started to date after that.  Three months later we decided to get married, oh yeah and somewhere in there I got pregnant.  So much for that no sex before marriage rule!  *LOL*

Anyway, we married, moved with my daughter to our first apartment and about six months in, he started to hit me.  At first it was just a slap here or there. Then it became punches and once he even punched me in the stomach while I was pregnant. Of course, my obstetrician told me to leave.  Thankfully the baby was unhurt.  He didn't touch me again for the rest of my pregnancy so I thought it was over...just a phase.

Fast forward a couple of months after my second daughter was born and I was slapped, punched, kicked or whatever almost weekly.  So why didn't I leave?  I did several times, but I came back because where was I going to go with two small children?  Home to my parents?  Nope, too ashamed to do that.  The police put him out several times, but he always came back...and all the time we were going to church every Sunday...regular God-fearing folks.

My relief came in two ways.  One I went to work one day with a short sleeve dress on and didn't realize that I had fingerprint bruises on my arm. A co-worker saw them and reported me to Human Resources.  The woman in Human Resources was very kind and offered assistance.  But I went home kinda ashamed that day and with plans to look for a different job.

However, the following Sunday the Pastor of my church stopped my husband & I and told us he needed to see us.  My bruises had been noticed at church too. Guess I had gotten so use to them that I wasn't good at covering them up any more.  Anyway, long story short we got counseling which the church provided and the beatings stopped.  Seriously, he never hit me again.

But everyone doesn't get that lucky/blessed/helped.  Too many times I would be in a circle of women and they would talk about what they would do if someone hit them.  None of the replies made me feel free to share what was happening to me...actually they made me feel even more inferior and filled with self-loathing because I couldn't/wouldn't fight back.  Well that's not exactly true, I did fight back once and ended up unconscious on the floor sort of like Janay.

What I'm saying by sharing my story and what the other women on Twitter and on the internet are saying is that if you feel that someone near you is being abused, be a source of help.  Offer kindness, a place to stay, the ability to watch their children, money...anything that will help them get out of that terrible situation...not words that will shame them or make them feel inferior.  Or baring that, like our mothers use to say, "If you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all!"

I was lucky.  I was helped.  I was no longer beat but my children do bear the scars from that situation and for that I have many regrets. I'm no longer married but that was not the reason for our divorce.  One of the things that I admired about him and still do is the fact that he went to counseling, got help and used the tools he learned in counseling to change his behavior.

I'm going to leave the comments open but if there is nothing constructive shared, I will shut them down.  It's been over 15 years since I was in this situation so there is no need to pat me on the back ~ however, if my story can help one woman break free then it was worth sharing....

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


It took me almost an entire month to make this dress last year ~

The sewing journey was involved and I learned a lot as well as ended up with that amazing dress.  Which by the way, I've only worn twice!  

Originally I'd intended to make a jacket to wear with the dress from the wool tweed which I used for the base of the dress. I spent so much time on the dress that I really had nothing left for the jacket.  So even though the front and back were cut out and attached to the pattern pieces...that's where they still were when I went looking for the fabric.

See this fabric has recently been haunting me.  Seriously, talking to me in the middle of the night...playing around the edges of my mind in meetings...and pushing into my thoughts on my long bus ride home.  I only remembered the jacket pieces, however, when I pulled the fabric out of the garbage bag it was stored in (along with leftover pieces from this jacket), I found a full yard of fabric. As well as another 1/2 yard...enough to make a dress and not the skirt I originally thought about.

My mind basically exploded!  Peeps, the fabric and lace used in that dress was costly and here I had it stored away.  Bet that's why it had started to haunt me! *LOL* Anytoway, (yeah I know that's not a word!) I've decided to use the fabric and the lace with McCalls 6988.

This is View C of the pattern, and the lace will be used in the center panel only, which will make this dress work wearable! Yes!!! I've shown the dress with the three quarter sleeves but if I don't have enough fabric I will change them to the shorter sleeve from View D.

I haven't started working on this yet because I have to finish my ponte dress first but won't this be amazing! I'm so thrilled that this will be my first fall garment especially since I will finally be using the leftover fabric...and it can stop calling to me at all hours of the day and night.

So I'm sure you're wondering what happened with the leggings for Princess Lena...they will be up soon.  I need my model to showcase them but believe me again more easy sewing...seriously easy sewing. Now I know how Katie turns out so many pieces every month.  Again something made entirely on the serger.

This is my next sewing journey which I will be oversharing here on the blog! *LOL* It's getting cooler outside along with getting darker earlier, fall is definitely on the way. This dress will make a great first fall garment!

Oh and I didn't buy any more ponte from the Fabric Mart 50% off sale...*sigh* I can't say the same for the 50% off suiting though...

...as always more later!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

I Have a Ponte Problem

As they say in those 12 Step Programs, admitting your problem is the first step. So we all know that I'm a fabricaholic. It's well documented and if you've had the opportunity to visit my sewing cave, you can attest to that fact. But lately, I've found that I have a ponte problem.

Yes, sure some of it is aggravated by the fact that Fabric Mart has an awesome selection of ponte fabric, but honestly I love sewing it and gravitate towards it. Because of that, I own a lot of ponte...so much that I'm publicly declaring that I'm not purchasing any more until the end of the year - well at least until January 2015.

Really why do I need more...when these beauties reside in the collection...

Blue/Black Circles, Black, Black & Tan Lace Ponte knits from Fabric Mart
Navy & Green stripe from Girl Charlee

Wine & Mulberry Ponte knits from Fabric Mart
Brown floral from Vogue Fabrics
Black/white diamond and green/navy stripe from Fabric Mart

Brown/gold/black houndstooth, Green/white/black/gray stripe
Red/gray/black stripe & black 'n white graphic houndstooth 
All from Fabric Mart

Black/Gray Paisley Ponte from Emmaonesock, Black/white stripe Ponte
Green ponte, Pink Chevron Ponte and Yellow Ponte from Fabric Mart

All 18 of them piled together...

Then there is a cabinet full of them...

I have no idea how much is in here and I'm not counting...*sigh*

...then there's four yards of a black ponte that I found when my daughter was looking for fabric that I didn't even realize I owned, and four yards of a heavy weight black ponte that I bought to make a trench. I'm almost sure there is some royal blue ponte that I didn't photograph and a scrap of a bright teal ponte knit that I was holding onto to make a quick elastic waist pencil skirt.

Honestly, it's time to sew more and acquire less! There's plenty of inspiration in the collection, in every color and loads of prints. To that end, my next dress has been cut out and is being worked on using this ponte print...

So that will be the next completed dress on the blog...and quite a few more pieces will be coming from fabric already in the collection. Now to show some more restraint during those Fabric Mart sales!!!

...as always more later!


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