Monday, April 27, 2015

Sewing Sheros

I read this article online at Yahoo on Friday where The Mattel Company made Barbies of celebrities to honor them for National Shero Day, which just happens to be today.

The article made me ponder on who my Sewing Sheros are...because of course all roads lead back to sewing for me! *LOL* I broke it down to two categories...personal and professional because I'm not really because I have more than one sewing shero and I want to honor them all!

First and foremost the Sewing Shero who changed my sewing the most would be ~ Colleen Jones.

I'm sure she doesn't even realize what an important part she played in my sewing life. I've written about her influence in my life before but let me briefly highlight the reasons why here again:

1. She encouraged me to sew better
2. Gave me my first Adele Margolis book
3. Turned me onto Mary Brooks Pickens
4. Made me realize that collecting fabric was a good thing!
5. Was generous to me when I was struggling financially
6. Turned me onto Kenneth King
7. Taught me so much about sewing with a smile and a funny story

If there is any one person to whom I owe my sewing to today, it would be Colleen ~ one of the kindest, gentlest women I know...whom my daughters as grown women adore and speak so lovingly made such an impact on my life when things were falling apart in my personal life and you encouraged me to sew through it all! If I can encourage another to sew and stay true to the course of life when the storms gather, I still won't give out as much as you put into my life! You are truly my sewing shero!

Professional Sewing Teacher Sheros ~

There are two sewing celebrities (true sewing celebrities!) that also affected my sewing.  They don't know me from Adam but they deserve a nod ~ a very big nod ~ Nancy Zieman and Sandra Betzina. Both had sewing shows on TV (PBS and HGTV respectively) and for the 30 minutes each show lasted, I was engrossed, soaking up every piece of knowledge that I could. 

See I've been sewing since I was 11 years old. I started when there wasn't an internet or computers, computerized sewing machines, rotary cutters, fusible interfacing and most fabric widths were 45" wide. You learned to sew from your mother or grandmother or at school in Home Ec. Almost every home had a sewing machine in it and you sewed to save money because clothing wasn't made overseas for slave wages, couldn't be purchased in WalMarts for $10 or less and most importantly the manufacture of fabric and clothing was a thriving business in the United States.

So to see women who taught sewing on television was a very big deal to me because it made sewing and learning about sewing accessible again. Now both of these awesome women contributed considerably to help me sew better. To not just sew in a bubble which was so easy to do pre-internet days.

These days, sewists can learn to sew by googling anything sewing related, or following sewists on a blog, sewing board and/or speak to them via social media. It's a very different experience than when I and my fellow contemporaries learned to sew. However, it's awesome to see and experience how sewing is going forth into the future.

So tell you have any sewing sheros?  Professional Teachers, Certified Sewing Celebrities, Social Media Sewing Sheros? Which woman has spoken so profoundly into your life that she has changed the course of your sewing? Share in the comments here or on your own blog! Tweet it, Facebook it, Pin it but let's honor our Sewing Sheros today on National Shero Day! always more later!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Miss Sammy wearing Vogue 8060

Do you know how hard it is to get a 15 month old baby girl to stand still and pose? Dayum near impossible! We ended up bribing her with a Twizzler and then I still only got a couple of usable pictures! So you don't have to worry there won't be a boatload of "cute" baby pictures to ooooohhhh and aaaahhhhh over! *LOL*

Pictures first ~

Sammy's Version of the Milly Dress ~

The Yellow Seersucker Dress ~

Can't believe we got a back shot!

Black Denim with Lace Trim ~

Denim Pinstripe Dress with Pink Floral Accent ~
This was how most of the pictures ended up!
It was a challenge to say the least!!!

The Denim Floral Dress ~

A little more about the pattern, etc. ~
If you look at the pattern envelope you will see that I basically did with this little girls' pattern what I do with my own - use it as a blueprint and get all creative on it. None of my versions are included in the pattern envelope - the dresses are all flights of my imagination and internet research. 

The original pattern has a button band on the back - I totally disregarded that. I added invisible zippers, button and loop closures, a shoulder button closure and openings in the front neckline. I omitted the overlay pictured on the pattern envelope and used different types of embellishments to enhance the dress.

I also changed the silhouette on the pattern by folding it down and altering. I guess I should have made pattern pieces but Miss Sammy is 15 months old and will be a totally different size in a couple of months. It was just not worth the effort to me.

Lastly, Miss Lena was mighty jealous of her sister's new pieces so she tried a few on.  This was very enlightening because except for length, they are able to wear the exact same size! This will make sewing garments for Miss Lena so much easier!

I will be working on little girl dresses for a little longer since it's now Miss Lena's turn! Again if little girls outfits bore you I will be back to sewing for me shortly.

Parting Shots ~
I posted this shot to Instagram but loved it so much that I wanted to share it here. BTW, most of the dresses were shared on my Instagram account. If you're not following me already, you should! I usually sneak peek there first before writing blog posts here.

Finally a shot of all ten dresses I made for Sammy all lined up... always more later!

Friday, April 24, 2015

#FBF - Fall Back Friday

This was originally supposed to be a #TBT - Throwback Thursday post but I really wanted to share Miss Sammy's dresses so that moved this post back. And I know y'all wanted to see those dresses way more than you wanted to see me wearing a restyled throwback skirt, right?!

I think its slimmer looking when I wore it in July 2014, because the extra weight I was carrying filled it out better.

I will wear it while I'm sewing new pieces because so much of my wardrobe is unwearable! UGGG! I'm definitely going back to sewing little girl's clothes. There's no pressure or fit challenges in little girl land! *LOL*

On more shot... always more later!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Vogue 8060 - Little Girls Dresses

As you know my daughter has four little people living with her now.  She is a pretty thrifty shopper, scoring some amazing finds on eBay but still clothing four little people can get expensive. So I decided to give her an assist by sewing for the girls this year.

Last year I made shorts for Danny and his sister Lena was a little jealous. She is thrilled that Nana is sewing for her this year. She and her little sister will be the recipients of some Nana-made garments. I decided to start sewing for the littlest one first, using Vogue 8060.

This pattern is now out of print.  It has a 2005 date on the pattern envelope and it's been in my pattern collection for a decade. I started off thinking that I would just make the dress and move onto the next lil girl's pattern that I set aside to use.

So I traced off the first size, rambled though the scrap pile and the notions stash...and then I lost my mind! Seriously, lost my mind! It was so much fun putting combinations together, using techniques like piping, inserting zippers and not worrying about FIT! I could just sew and be creative!

After we tried the first dress on Miss Sammy and determined that the length was good. I went to town.  Here are the first couple of dresses...

1. Navy Gingham with a Daisy Trim Dress

This one was made from the scraps of the skirt from the last post and not the actual remaining yardage because you know I have at least 3 yards left.  But on to the dress' details. I took way too long to make this one because I matched plaids, inserted an invisible zipper, added daisy trim to the front (purchased during The Expo) and added binding to the armholes and neckline. Hey it was the first one and I had to shed some of my more advanced sewing techniques because even little girls are harder on their clothes than grown women and I want her to wear these dresses with no worries. 

2. Pink Knit Stripe Dress

This dress is from a questionable rayon jersey I purchased from about four years ago. It was a border print that was more panels than a traditional border print. I could have made a series of pattern pieces for this dress but honestly she won't be this size in 3 months so why? Instead I folded the pattern pieces up and cut out the fabric. To add the skirt, I cut a band double the length of the top and the width of the border print. Then gathered the band and attached it to the bodice. The neckline and armholes are turned under and stitched. Most of this dress was made on the serger so it was a really fast sew.

3. The Milly Dress

I purposely saved the scraps from my Milly dress to make a little dress for a granddaughter.  Of course I added piping and an invisible zipper to the dress. Also, the pieces are underlined with cotton batiste because the cotton is really light. I'm thrilled that I was able to get a dress out of this for Miss Sammy!

4. Lavender Floral Denim Dress

This one is made from a lavender floral denim that I recently purchased from Fabric Mart to make pieces for the granddaughters.  I added a lavender & metal button from the button stash and lots of topstitching in lavender to make this cute little jumper. The front and back necklines are lowered so that it will slip over her head. The front band was made by cutting the fronts into two pieces and folding, pressing and topstitching. I also added a 2" band on the bottom of the dress that was attached and topstitched down. As of now this is my favorite one! 

5. Black Denim and Lace

This dress was inspired by a piece of clothing I saw online at one of the RTW sites. After a quick trip through the notions stash I found some trims to make the center embellishment. The skirt is four times the size of the dress front and gathered using clear elastic. The hem is the selvedge of the denim. The dress has button/buttonhole closures on the shoulders. This is the same pattern piece from the original dress just folded at the waistline and side seams to make a straighter top.

6. Pinstripe Magic Dress

This dress is inspired by a series of dresses I pinned on Pinterest. I added two pieces of piping to the dress ~ a white piping and a thinner metallic blue piping. The base of the dress is a pinstripe denim from Fabric Mart and the insert is one of the scraps of quilting cotton gifted to me by Oona for the #fatquarterchallenge. It has a loop & button closure on the back and again the pattern adjustments were made by folding the main pattern piece.

7. Pinstripes & Tucks Dress

This is a slimmer version of the dress and how the next set of dresses I'm making will look.  I pulled the front piece about 4" from the fold and used the pinstripes to make the tucks in the front.  A piece of floral ribbon was added to the center of the tucks.

It also has a button & loop closure in the back and the pleats are only sewn 3/4rds of the way down the front of the dress. The tucks are pressed and then release out. This is probably the plainest version of the dresses. is a group shot...

I'm going to make about 5 more dresses before I start on Miss Lena's outfits. She is four years old and has requested a maxidress or two! Really!?! A baby fashionista in the making! *LOL*

I will share a few modeled shots of the girls when I'm completely done and there will probably be another post or two about the garments construction. If you're not interested in children's clothing, I understand if you ignore the next couple of posts. 

When I come out of little girl land, I will be working on the Vogue 9079 dress. always more later!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Remaking my TNT straight skirt pattern

Let's start with some pictures first ~

This outfit is a direct rip off of some Talbot pieces. I've owned the blue & navy large gingham print fabric since last year and the cardigan is a recent purchase.

Cardigan from Jessica London 
 Fabric from Fabric Mart - no longer available

So let's talk about the changes I made to the pattern to make it work for me.

Pattern Alterations ~
  • First I started with my TNT straight skirt pattern.
  • I measured the pattern pieces at the hipline first to determine how many inches needed to be removed from the pattern piece.
  • After measuring, I determined that I needed to remove 5/8" from the skirt's center back. 
  • I removed 1/2" from the skirt's center front.
  • Then I pegged the skirt's hem - starting just below the hip curve 1/4" to a full inch at the hemline on both the front and back skirt pieces.
  • When making the new pattern pieces I made the hip curve softer rather than the angular one that is on my TNT piece.
Old TNT front skirt pattern piece vs. revised skirt pattern

New skirt pattern on top of the old pattern

Back pattern pieces - old vs. new

New back pattern piece on top of the old piece

Hopefully the photographs illustrate the changes I made to the pattern pieces. The new pieces are considerably smaller and are altered to give me a closer fit.

Construction ~
The plaid is the most important feature of this skirt and I wanted to make sure that my side seams all matched so I used a single layout to cut the fabric out. I cheated by laying the front piece on the fabric to make sure that the side back seams matched the front ones.

I opted to use a white invisible zipper for the skirt back only because I didn't have a navy one. I was really thrilled with the zipper insertion, as well as, the plaid match on the skirt back.

The skirt front has four darts - two one either side of the center front. I removed the darts closest to the side seams. This way I have some contour for the abdomen area but not too much. I left both sets of darts in the back pieces because I need the definition there.

The skirt is lined with an ivory bemberg rayon.

I couldn't decide whether to add a waistband or not. Finally went with a very thin waistband that is the measurement of the skirt's waist 42" long and 1.5" wide. This resulted in a 5/8" wide waistband.

A button/buttonhole closure on the waistband is my closure of choice. The best thing about my sewing machine is the variety of buttonhole choices available to me.  This time I went with a buttonhole that is rounded on both ends.

Conclusion ~
I like this new skirt and plan on making quite a few more. I'm also going to use these skirt pieces as the skirt for another version of my TNT dress pattern. So the pieces will need to be transferred to pattern paper for longevity.

A few more pictures of the skirt in action~

Outfit with my Keds - which I wear to walk to and from the bus

Next up on the cutting table is Vogue 9079 from some ponte prints.  I'm kinda excited about this dress because it's not my typical look!

Finally a parting shot ~
The white wedgies that I wore in these photos and the one of the gingham dress are about 10 years old and back in style.  So these are also back in rotation now too... always more later!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

My Life in Pictures 2

I wanted to share a few pics of my week...

Met a few sewing friends ~

Wanett, Sonja, Jenny and me in Mood

Why this child felt the need to lick me is beyond me?!

Bought a few goodies from the garment district ~

Ribbing from Pacific Trimmings, Black Lace from M&J Trims
Hug Snug from SIL and zippers from Daytona Trimmings

I need you to notice that no fabric came home with me!

Shot a few projects for the blog ~

...and started working on pattern alterations for Vogue 9079!

There are a few more garments to be shared on the blog but I'm thrilled about the V9079 dress and the project after that one!  My sewing mojo is seriously on point and I'm going with the flow of it! always more later!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Remaking my TNT Dress Pattern - The Woven Version

After making a ponte version of my TNT dress pattern, I pulled a lightweight silk/wool twill border print from the collection for my next version.  This is another one of those Fabric Mart purchases made during the frenzy of a 40% off sale. It was purchased in August 2014 which means it had a pretty short stint in the fabric collection.

I chose this fabric for the next version because I'm trying to make better fitting dresses that will stand out.  I own plenty of solid colored cardigans that can be worn with them since this is my go to outfit for work.

The challenge for this dress ~ making sure the border print works all the way around the hem of the dress. The fabric is only 44" wide - probably why I purchased 3 yards instead of my normal 2 - and the pattern pieces hang over an inch at the hemline. 

To handle this challenge, I used a single pattern piece layout on the fabric. This meant that I had to make additional pattern pieces for the center back and side back pieces.

Making second copies of the back pieces

Laying the pieces out side by side on the fabric

So the front was cut on the fold and the back pieces were cut singly to insure that the border print worked all the way around the dress.

Construction ~
The only thing I did differently with this dress vs. the ponte version is to use 3/8" seams from the waistline down. The dress fit with the 5/8" seam allowances but I hate when a dress cups the bottom of my abdomen. By using 3/8" seam allowances on every seam instead of the 5/8" I gave the dress just enough space to skim over my body.

I added a red piping at the neckline because you know that I like to end/contain a print in a dress and it always adds a finishing.

The dress is lined with a bemberg lining and closed with a regular center back zipper insertion. I was going to do an exposed zipper then decided that there was too much going on. I didn't want the zipper to overwhelm the dress.

I believe that the upper back fits better here than it did on the ponte dress.

So I'm going to keep using this type of back going forward because I will make more of these dresses. It's a silhouette that I'm comfortable wearing and it works for my lifestyle. It's also a great jumping off place to make interpretations and to use as a basis for fitting new dress patterns.

My plan is to try some new dress silhouettes this year. Primarily because my sewing was so lazy last year and also because I own a lot of patterns. I should take some of them out of their envelopes and pair them with my vast fabric collection, dontcha think?!

Photos ~

Next up I'm remaking my TNT straight skirt. I use to wear a lot of skirts. Once I got a little heavier, I would wear them occasionally but I lost the love for them. After making the brocade skirt I decided that I would like a few more in the wardrobe. Especially since almost every skirt without an elastic waist is too big for me now. I'm packing them up to be donated so a huge portion of my wardrobe is missing.

Two items are off my spring sewing list - the skirt is the third thing and then I think I'm deviating from the list!  Yes, I know...but it's for a dress and some fabric that's making me catch my breathe.  Then I'm going back to the list for the next item.

Finally a parting shot ~
I bought these shoes in 2012 and wore them for one season again because everything just bloated up on me. Now I don't seem to own a pair of shoes that doesn't fit again.  So these are back in rotation.  They are Jones NY Shoes with a 3 inch heel and a foot pad that makes them so comfortable and easy to wear. always more later!


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