Sunday, May 31, 2015

Interview Blues

So this is the interview suit that I never wore...

I made my first suit from a glen plaid fabric using Vogue 8209. That jacket/suit worked really well and I got the job. But before I knew that, I started another interview outfit. I added a dress instead of a skirt to this suit combo because it's more comfortable to wear.

Some stats ~
Reworked TNT dress pattern
Vogue 8209 Jacket

Textured Rayon Suiting purchased from Vogue Fashion Fabrics

Navy Blue Bemberg Rayon Lining purchased from Low Price Fabrics
Black silk organza from the collection
Navy Blue Rayon Seam Tape
Black fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply
7 - 1" enameled plastic buttons purchased from Fabric Mart
1" shoulder pads from the collection
22" navy invisible zipper
bias binding

There are no new sewing techniques in this outfit. It's basic construction with a lot of steps...a lot of steps!  The first post on how this jacket was constructed is here.  However, sewing an outfit without pressure means that I sew better.  The sleeves are inserted well. No puckers in the sleeve caps especially after I reduced the excess space on the pattern pieces. I also added space to the front so the jacket can close better. 

The dress is a basic sleeveless version of my TNT pattern. I wanted it "plain" so that it would work with anything...the jacket, a cardigan or alone...with or without jewelry. A good workhorse piece that can even be worn at my new job.

In my original post, I included a cotton houndstooth fabric that I was going to make a skirt to coordinate with the jacket. After realizing that I've recently made a navy/white gingham skirt that will go with the jacket, I decided not to sew it any time soon. 

A few more pictures ~

I start my new job on Monday. I'm pretty excited about this new adventure especially since I will be in a different industry, working less hours with a different dress code. So my sewing is definitely going to change now...which is great since most of my "professional" wardrobe no longer fits. 

However, if I ever need an interview outfit again, I'm all set! always more later!

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thoughts from a Sewcation

For this sewcation, I decided to handle my blog posts differently. Usually, I write and post them as I've sewn each garment. This time I'm waiting until everything is done, including photos, and will post then.  This means there hasn't been much shown here since the start of my sewcation.  My reason is that I just wanted to sew uninterrupted...

These are a few of the thoughts that rambled through my mind while sewing this last week... 

1.  I know why I have nice skin.  I use so much steam when I'm sewing that my pores are constantly being flushed by the steam. Yeah sewing facials! *LOL*

2.  Is it sewing growth if I really like hand sewing now? It calms and makes me feel as if I'm invested in my garments. 

3.   I need to learn to sew more quick and easy garments! The amount of steps involved in complicated garments, while necessary, seems to make the process so much longer!

4.  Are you like me? Do you read through other sewists' blog posts looking for techniques that will help you take your sewing to the next level? I love finding a gem that I can file away to use on a future garment.

5.  Do you use just one set/size pins when you're sewing? I noticed during this sewcation that I used several different sizes of pins for my projects. Just wondering if anyone else is that obsessive too?

6.  Same with carbon paper - I have several different types and use them based upon the fabric. Again am I the only one that does that?

7.   Ever since I realized that I can purchase just about any sewing supply from Amazon - it's been my go to source.  Tracing paper, pins, sewing machine needles and now waistband interfacing. Amazon is like the Walmart of the Internet! *LOL*

8.  I was wondering, does anyone else press their darts over their pressing ham? Okay seriously I know that other sewists do but does everyone?  Do you realize that you get a much better press ~ one that follows the contours of your curves if you press darts over a pressing ham?  Just wondering...

9.  There were a lot of skirts made this go around. So when I was reading Shams post about her awesome new pants, I realized that I do the same thing. My skirt fronts are considerably larger than my skirt backs. I'm just bigger in the front and need more fabric there.

10. Have you ever dropped your scissors/shears and they just fell apart? That happened to me once...I bought multiples of everything after that to make sure I was never without scissors/shears again!

11. BTW, I pretty much own multiples of everything ~ seam rippers, pins and pinholders, seam gauges, all of my scissors, etc. I'm sure that I'm not the only one with a considerably overstocked sewing spot?

12. Do you sit and sew for 4, 5, 6 or 8 hours straight?  I just realized that I sew in bursts.  An hour or two here...some computer time.  Another 15-30 minutes and a trip upstairs to do a biggest bursts of straight sewing time occur from 10pm to 2am when there are no distractions. So what about you? How do you sew?

13. I think you need to fail when making a garment. Because when you fail and figure out how to fix it, it gives you the experience and the belief that you can make it work the next time you're in that situation. Failing makes you a better sewist...well at least to me!

Butterick 6183 top & TNT skirt, Butterick 6183 sleeveless top w/maxi skirt, 
2 TNT skirts in prints, Vogue 8209 Jacket and TNT dress

As of now I've finished 8 pieces ~ number 9 and 10 are on the cutting table. I'm working on a top and matching pants...those will probably be the last items...even though I keep thinking maybe I can squeeze one last TNT dress in...but probably not. Cause let's be real, I still haven't taken pictures of me in all of this stuff!

Anyway, I went with simple pieces...the most complicated was the Vogue 8209 jacket but that was me and not the pattern. I chose to sew these garments to give my wardrobe some variety since it's been quite limited lately. The posts about the garments and my journey will be up on the blog next. always more later!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Fabric Finds #2

My fabric collection is not an accident. It is a deliberate curated collection. At the beginning I bought a lot of basics...alot of basics in a lot of different fabrications...because I always wanted to be able to make a black pair of pants or skirt.

Lately though, since the collection is so well established, my purchases are more focused. I went through a period of buying pontes in all colors and prints because I loved sewing with it so much. Recently, any interesting pleather or faux leather has found its way into the collection.

My newest acquisition is this wool flannel purchased out of season cause you know this won't be around come fall ~

Yeah I know beautiful right! This is from Emmaonesock and there is still some left on the site. These are the types of purchases I've been making lately. Gorgeous pieces of fabric, sometimes bought out of season, because they will enhance the collection. 

So this is fabric is being highlighted for Fabric Finds #2. Hop on over and purchase a couple of yards...and like me save it for fall/winter if you're in the Northern Hemisphere or use it now if you're in the Southern Hemisphere. always more later!

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pattern Addiction

I think I'm addicted to anything sewing ~ seriously! See my heart skipped a beat when I read the notice in my email box that Butterick, McCalls, Vogue and KwikSew patterns were on sale. Luckily I read the email at the bus stop this morning...unluckily the patterns are on sale until Tuesday, May 26th.

Luckily, I didn't have any time to look at my wish list and what was in my shopping cart on my iPad until I got home. Unluckily, the list is pretty long! BTW McCalls, why if I'm logged in, can't my list transfer or remain the same from device to device. I can make three different lists ~ one on my home computer, one on my iPad and one on my iPhone. All different which can get a bit confusing! 

Okay so back to my addiction...I have 12 yes 12 patterns on my list! Why?! I don't need a pattern!?! I have quite a collection! But yet, I'm scrolling through that list trying to determine which ones should wing their way home to me. This addiction has not been helped by the fact that McCalls blogged about the new patterns today with a video - a video! Yeah three of those 12 patterns were put on the list today.

So what is an addict to do?! I came down to the cave to find my special zen place. That place where I talk myself out of buying 90% of the stuff I really want to purchase...and I do the thing that shakes me back to reality every time. I touch the patterns I already own. Peeps let me tell you this is the one advantage of purchasing my patterns online from the comfort of my sewing cave. The ability to access my patterns while I'm being intoxicated by the wonderful and the new! It shuts that desire down with a quickness!

By touching all of those wonderfully pristine envelopes just waiting their turn to become a garment, I'm reminded of my old hopes and dreams. The desires I had when I bought each one of them. And I stop, take stock, readjust and slowly start to remove patterns from my shopping cart.

In all honesty, you and I both know that I'm adding to the collection. However, I'm not going overboard and the list is now well thought out and better curated.

Here's what I bought ~

Let's start with what I got for Miss Lena:

Butterick 6201

Butterick 6202

...and four more patterns are coming for me:

Lori from Girls in the Garden posted about this pattern (Butterick 6051) and I really wanted it. Then Mary on the Curvy Collective posted about making maxi dresses this summer and I've got to get in on that too!  This pattern can make those hopes come to fruition!

This is Vogue 9023 - an empire waist knit dress with short sleeves. What can be a more perfect work dress than this one?

I meant to purchase this one (Vogue 9107) when the new Vogue patterns came out a couple of months ago. I don't remember why I didn't? Then I saw the McCalls video today and I knew that I needed this one ~ especially since I have two pastel shades of silk crepe that will make this an amazing dress. And yes, I plan on wearing it to work!

Culottes are everywhere...and I mean everywhere. I was considering purchasing a Butterick culotte pattern that had an elastic waistline. BUT I'm really digging the fact that this one has a flat front and an elastic backwaist. Also, in a nice flowy challis this will look more like a full summer skirt than culottes and that's the look I really want! So McCalls 7131 is coming to me too!

I don't think I overindulged, hopefully most of these will be sewn this summer! So how about you? Did you succumb to the sale yet? Notice I said yet! *LOL* Or do you have the will power that I don't seem to possess and you won't be purchasing? Inquiring minds want to know... always more later!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Let's Do it Again!

When I was at the Vogue Fashion Fabrics booth at The Expo in Pullayap, I was deliberately looking for fabrics to make a couple of spring suits.

I bought this midweight textured rayon suiting and the coordinating navy/white cotton houndstooth to make a jacket/dress/skirt combo. Since the Vogue 8209 pattern was still laying on the cutting table, I decided to use it again, especially since I knew how I wanted to improve the sleeves.

However, the rayon suiting while textured did need some stability to help it keep from stretching out. I decided to add a layer of black silk organza to the pieces to provide the needed support. So the body pieces were constructed of three layers...

The fashion fabric and silk organza was marked and the darts stitched through both pieces ~

Then the bemberg lining was basted to that piece and serged together.

The rayon fashion fabric was very ravelly and needed the clean finishing. Lastly the rayon seam binding was stitched to the edges.

Front Pattern Alteration and Construction:
For this version I decided to copy the jacket front pattern onto pattern paper, separating the facing from the jacket front and adding a 1/2 inch to the center front prior to adding the 5/8 inch seam allowance.

Why did I do this? Because the jacket fronts needed an additional inch so that the fronts would close better. Now the original jacket pattern doesn't call for button closures - it's a hook and eye closing. And when I originally made this pattern, there were no closures, but there is enough space in the abdomen area now to close the jacket. So I'm taking advantage of this extra space to add buttons & buttonholes.

Other than the techniques mentioned above, the jacket construction will be the same as the last jacket. I'm knee deep into construction and will have photography shots when all three pieces have been completed.

May I take a moment here to say that I'm going to spend the next 11 days sewing for me. There may be an alteration or two of a "reclaimed" dress from the closet. That will probably happen during the end of the time because it's a sewcation designed to add some variety to my wardrobe. I just can't stand it anymore ~ I'm going to start sewing new things and donate the rest.

When I look back at some of the garments I've sewn, I want that feeling of creative freedom that I once had. It's missing now. I've become a captive of my weight loss and not in a good way. So there will be some new patterns and some of my revised TNT patterns sewn. I'm going in and I'm not coming out until I have new garments to wear and of course share here with you! always more later!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Curvy Sketchbook by Cashmerette

I was gifted both the small and larger versions of these sketchbooks for my upcoming birthday. However, I would have bought them both anyway, to support my friend Jenny.

I think that it's an awesome idea that she decided to make the croquis full sized so that us curvy girls can get a better idea of how garments look on our fuller shapes when we're imaging/dreaming/designing our own new garments! 

I'm sure you're asking why I would have bought both versions ~ but hey one can go in my handbag for when I'm shopping in the garment district, or dreaming up new ideas on the bus, or daydreaming at my desk. The larger version allows me to keep it in the sewing cave and to add a swatch, capturing all of the pertinent information that I need to sew/create a new garment.

We've all seen the other sketchbooks that have swept through the sewing community. However, can I state again that this one is for us curvy girls. If you want to own a copy of either version or both, please order them here. They are presently 20% off so get one now... you won't regret it.

Finally, I need to say that I only endorse products that I actually use and believe in. I've known about these sketchbooks from the inception through the actual publishing. It's a wonderful tool to help with planning your creations and worth spending your precious sewing dollars on! always more later! 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Fabric Finds #1

A few of my friends, after visiting the cave, suggested that I give shout-outs when a great piece of fabric appears that I would this is probably the start of something quite a few of you are going to regret! *LOL* Also, I apologize that this one is late...because the offer expires in a few hours...

The fabric is on sale right now for $3.60 a yard! If you want some pick it up now!!!

Here's the fabric from where else - Fabric Mart

...and here are my designer inspirations for some amazing new pieces...

Don't be put off by the designer pics, because this will make a great cardi with solid black bands that can be worn both professionally over a skirt and/or dress OR over a pair of jeans in a more casual situation. Like I said its on sale for $3.50 a yard for only a couple more hours so hurry on over and pick some up. As for me, yeah I already own this fabric! *LOL* always more later!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Throwback Thursday #3

Along with Closet Cull posts there will also be a couple of posts about garments that I found in the dark depths of my wardrobe that have been resurrected...rising to the front of the closet like the phoenix rising from the ashes. Or in short, I can wear them again. This is one of those posts...

I made this dress back in 2007. It was the very first time where I cut my TNT pattern apart. It was the beginning of a journey that not only expanded my creative sense but it helped me to sew better. I wore this dress for three years and then I started to gain weight. It no longer fit well through my abdomen and hips. But I just couldn't give it away because it held too much sentimental value.

Fast forward five years, 45 lbs lost and I can wear the dress again. Actually I could take in the side seams's a tad loose. I also need to say that I only have a pair of spanx on under this dress. This is important because this is what I use to wear under my garments (minus the bye Dave lettering!)...

I would like to thank Tina Fey for standing in for me and on national TV at that, to share how even thin women hold themselves together under their clothing! Okay not all thin women, but my girl Tina Fey rocks!

Besides losing the weight and 75% of my wardrobe, I've lost all but the spanx in my lingerie/undergarment drawer. It's been a really strange year, to say the least. May I also emphatically state that even with the weight loss, I'm still plus size. Honestly, I'm not trying to become a size 10 so if you're holding your breathe waiting for it or betting on it happening...stop it ain't gonna. See to look decent as a size 10, surgery would be involved, and if I had that kinda money, I would buy the new Janome Memory Craft 15000 first! I have priorities people! *LOL*

Here are a few more peeks at the dress...

I love a good pink dress. I will more than likely take the seams in a little since I've decided to go for it and lose the last 20 lbs the doctor recommends. Hey, I've already lost most of my me mades might as well go for it...crossing the finish line with a total weight loss of 65 lbs! I'm sure by the moaning & groaning, you'll know when I've arrived. *LOL* always more later!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Vogue 8209 in Glen Plaid

Here are the pics of the suit in action. Again, I see things to improve upon for next time. I've already cut out the fabric for another jacket/dress combo in navy blue...

I really don't like me in a suit or a jacket with a collar. However, some situations just call for one and there is no way around it. In this instance, I used a collarless jacket with a matching straight skirt. For these pictures, I wanted to share movement shots rather than "glamour or posed" shots of the suit so these are atypical on purpose. 

Some Stats ~
4 yards of a wool/poly glen plaid from Fabric Mart
2 yards of white bemberg rayon lining from Low Price Fabrics

yards and yards of white rayon seam tape
(that was folded & pressed before being sewn to the seams)
1/2" shoulder pads
1 - 1" button from the button collection
1 yard 1" non-roll elastic
Steam-A-Seam 2 - 1/4" wide

The Jacket ~

Taking the jacket off so you can see the innards

The Skirt ~
The skirt is simple. An elastic waist unlined straight skirt. The hem has Steam-A-Seam 2 in the hemline. It's the fabric wrapped around my body with the selvedges serged off and sewn closed. Then I added a 1.5" casing and stitched the top and bottom of the casing to enclose the elastic. I've included a front and back shot of me in the skirt.

I hope I didn't overwhelm you with pics, just wanted to show all the details of the suit. If you have any questions regarding the construction of the suit, please see the last blog post. Like I said above, I've already begun working on the next version. always more later!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Vogue 8209 ~ One more time!

I have some important meetings to attend and I needed a new suit to wear. My present summer suits are all too big. Gawd I promise to stop typing that sometime soon! It's starting to annoy me too.  Of course, I didn't have loads of time ~ about five days ~ but I managed to get it sewn in time.

The main reason why is Vogue 8209. This is the fourth time I've used this pattern to make a jacket.  

You can see my favorite seersucker version here and here and the Chado Ralph Rucci jacket that failed here. The very first version was part of a pantsuit sewn in 2008 here. See this pattern rarely fails me!

I started with a lightweight poly/wool glen plaid from Fabric Mart. The most important part of making this suit work was to match that glen plaid all the way around the jacket, as well as, where the sleeves join the jacket. 

Plaid Matching Tips ~
1. I pin all of the main plaid lines in the selvedges all the way down the fabric. This allows me to make sure that the fabric matches and won't slip during the layout and cutting process.

leftover fabric remnant

2. Most times I cut pieces singly - making a right and left copy of each pattern piece making it easier to match the plaids during layout. I didn't use that technique for this jacket. Instead I cut the front pieces and then used them to cut the back pieces insuring the plaid matched all the way around the body of the jacket.

3. Sometimes when there are two pieces like the sleeves ~ I lay them next to each other, then pin and cut.

4. When laying out I try to align the pattern pieces at specific points on the glen plaid so I can use it as a reference point when laying out other pattern pieces ~ for example, the hemline is placed along a prominent section of the plaid. This insures that the plaid will match at every hemline.

5. To stitch the pieces together, I pin the points of the plaid together at every spot before stitching. I also tend to stitch from the hem up. I've found that sewing that way insures that the plaid doesn't shift. Quite a few times when I've sewn from the top down, I've had a slight difference in the plaid match.

6. When I'm really concerned, I will hand baste the two pieces together. If you have a walking foot, that will help with insuring that the two pieces don't shift during sewing.

Finally, plaid matching is not hard to do. It takes some time and consideration when cutting out then care when sewing the garment together. However, the time spent is worth it.

The Other Changes ~
I underlined this one with bemberg rayon lining. When I first started working with the fabric, I realized that it was too light to sit well on my body without a lining. 

I had always planned on binding the seams because I think this is a better finishing on a jacket than serged seams.

The back neck facing was enlarged. I hated the way the smaller facing flopped around in my other jackets. By enlarging the facing, it allowed me to add my label to the back of the jacket and I did a stitch in the ditch to hold it down.

The sleeves are lined using the Nancy Zieman method.

I used 1/2" shoulder pads in the jacket and only serged the edges because I was pushing it to get the jacket finished in time. It would have been nicer if I had bound those edges too.

One single button was used on the front of the jacket. I thought this one worked well with the fabric and I wanted a closure on the jacket unlike the previous incarnations.

Final thoughts ~
I ran through this jacket. It was made in 2.5 days and I had some challenges with the underlining and the front facing. Let's just say that I didn't think it through and had to rip it apart in sections to finish the neckline.

After I wore the jacket I noticed a lot of wrinkling. In hindsight I probably should have added an organza layer before underlining with the lining fabric. Since my garments will get a lot more wear now that I'm rebuilding my wardrobe, I need to think of things like this earlier in the sewing process.

I also wasn't thrilled with my sleeve insertion. At the end of the day, I kept thinking that I would take them out when I got home and reinsert them. But I'm gonna leave them alone and move on. I'm doing this for two reasons. One, the plaid match is so amazing that I'm not sure I could repeat it. Two, I got so many compliments on the suit that no one noticed the sleeve caps but me. Definite signs of this isn't a great insertion but it's okay and I will fix the pattern for future makes.

Removing some of the excess from the sleeve cap on the pattern pieces will make them work better since I'm going to use this pattern again. Hey I need clothes and this pattern works! I've even got the next set of fabrics picked out. Ah the joys of a well stocked fabric collection!

Pics of me wearing the suit will be up soon.  My photographer is working again so I have to schedule photo shoots. I also made a couple of dresses for my daughter ~ which will also be up on the blog shortly. Those dresses pushed Miss Lena's summer things back a little.

I have a full plate of sewing on my list so I hope you'll hang around for my next sewing adventure! always more later!

Monday, May 04, 2015

Met Gala 2015

I love the Met Gala especially since it kicks off the new Fashion Exhibit at The Met. This year the theme is: China Through the Looking Glass.  It will be at the Museum May 7th - August 16th. I will be checking this exhibit out!

However, prior to the exhibit opening to the general public, there is the Met Gala Ball.  How this works is that designers chose a celebrity they want to dress usually based upon the theme of the Gala. It's always a spectacle! It's a mix of athletes, movie stars, TV stars, musicians, reality stars (I'm so not a Kardasian fan!) wearing gorgeous designer originals.

First I need to show you how the Museum is decorated ~

These are the dresses that I liked ~

Jennifer Lawrence was in Dior and she was the co-chair this year

Zendaya Coleman in Fausto Puglisi

Bee Schafer (Anna Wintour's daughter) in Alexander McQueen

Cher in Marc Jacobs

Dianna Agron in Tory Burch

Helen Mirren in Dolce & Gabbana

Kate Hudson in Michael Kors

Marissa Meyer - head of Yahoo - also co-chair
in Oscar de la Renta

Lady Gaga in Balenciaga

And I'm not sure about this one but Sarah Jessica is wearing a Phillip Treacy headpiece so...

This was a serious WTF moment for me ~

Does this woman ever wear clothes anymore?

There was the I have a great body and so I'm gonna come half naked ~ I'm looking at you Beyonce, JLo and Kim K. West! I'm sure you will be bombarded by their looks elsewhere so I'm not showcasing them here!

Finally, if you want to see all the dresses yourself, the complete Red Carpet is on and Vogue.  All pictures were lifted from the Vogue site so thank you to the photographer who took them! If you were as obsessed as I was - who did you like?

My final pic of the day...really Justin Bieber?! *LOL* always more later!


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