Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Glutton for Punishment

Yes, in spite of myself, I give in to challenges and interesting projects in spite of my better judgment.  This time, after watching the ballerina skirt being created, a co-worker asked if I would use the leftover tulle to create one for her.  Hhhmmm.....didn't I just go into a tirade about selfish sewing and ungrateful recipients recently????  But,......I considered it....and thought it would stretch my abilities...so I thought about it for a few days--and agreed. 

The young lady agreed to pay me, and I could use the red tulle purchased at the same time I bought the black tulle I used for my oldest niece's birthday present.   You can see it hiding below the bolt of black I used for my niece.  Remember, both cost approximately $9-10 per bolt from the wedding/party website whose location I passed along on this previous post.

The double layer tulle skirt was a size 6 and used 36+ yards of the 40 yard bolt.  (I will probably never sew the double-layer ruffled version again....soooo labor-intensive!)  The single length skirt, however, uses far less tulle (only about 14 yards) and only four long runs of gathers, so I agreed to whip one in red for her birthday celebration coming up the first week in August.


Each Bolt Contained Forty Yards of Tulle




Now, what I thought would be interesting was computing how I would convert the lining pattern piece (which looked like a quarter of a circle) to a pattern piece large enough to go around her waist.

The only way I can explain it is to draw you a picture of my thought process.  Take a look:
The drawing is not an exact replica of the pattern piece, but the fundamentals are basic.  I took the client's waist measurement and made sure the circumference of the top of this pattern piece was one-quarter of this measurement.  I used a math formula to compute her waistline measurement as if it were the circumference of the complete circle (indicated by the dotted line) then divided it by one-fourth to make sure the dotted line below was the same number.








I finally learned how to turn off the flash on my digital camera, so you can really see the detail on this skirt.  The young lady was outside the standard pattern size (6-22), so I used my math skills to alter the pattern to fit her.  Her waist is 58" and she requested the length end just above her knee (at 25" long).

The end result is what you see in the photographs below.  I think the skirt turned out quite well and I'm proud of my efforts.  The color is glorious, isn't it?  My co-worker was delighted.  The gathered tulle is a series of panels seamed together and gathered along the top.  To make sure her skirt looked full, I added two more panels of tulle to each layer (there are four...two are dropped about 2" lower attached to a 'yoke' ) so the gathers would cover the extra inches added to the pattern.  The only tedious portion of this work was custom-hemming the lining to cover her fullness in the back and making it gradually shorter in the front.  Hemming in this way made the skirt hang evenly all the way around.  They have tools that make this type of hemming easier.  I have one, but guess where it is?...that's right...stored with my things in Atlanta!  Ah, well!  lol








The double-faced ribbon is the most beautiful ribbon I have ever seen.  It ties so smoothly!  I'm delighted to have found the source and hate I sent the entire roll of black ribbon to my niece when I mailed her black tulle  skirt to her.   I'll need to order myself another roll, for sure!

Well, I'm off now to put the final pieces of my evening jacket together.  It is also beautiful and should be done in the next week or so.   This project was just a little sewing distraction on my normal sewing adventure, so now I can get back to my normal projects (for myself).  As you can tell, sometimes I squeeze in a project for someone else.....only if it is interesting and challenging.  Do you do the same thing?

I hope you all have been well and continue to sew whenever you can....one stitch at a time!





Thursday, June 12, 2014

Secret Dreams to be a Ballerina....

I have two nieces I have been sewing for since they were tiny babies.  Christening gowns, Easter outfits and Christmas dresses were the way I worked through my 'girly sewing' desires.  I had one son, so my sewing for him consisted of stuffed toys, shirts, robes, winter jackets and ultimately tuxedos for his formal high school events.  The girls also received custom-created Cabbage Patch dolls and AunTee-made outfits for their American Girl dolls.  I also included hats, soft-covered books and toys for them; and they were always excited to receive my gifts and appreciated my creativity and sewing ability.  Little did they realize I used these little projects to stretch my sewing horizons and expand my sewing vocabulary using small-size projects for them.

My oldest niece is the recipient of my latest project, Simplicity 1427. It fulfills a young girl's secret desire to become a ballerina or dance like one---even if its just once.  Although it does not fit into my wardrobe or figure at my age (hmmmm...maybe in a tea length???), I think it is a beautiful, soft wardrobe addition for any young lady.


Simplicity 1427
Photo courtesy of Simplicity.com

When this pattern was published, I hurried to purchase it directly from Simplicity.com.  In fact, I was so quick the smallest sizes were not available for a week or so.  I don't normally purchase Simplicity patterns, but I was willing to see if their pattern drafting had improved over the years.  Years ago, they had consistent problems in that area and bland styling designs, so I always purchased patterns from the other Big Four companies, specifically, Butterick and Vogue.

I have delayed creating a petticoat for another dress I've made because it takes so much yardage and miles and miles of gathering.  Why now?  Because I could do it for less than I could buy it, and would not need to rely on the instructions of untested patternmakers.  I put all my faith in Simplicity to have the yardage and instructions worked out perfectly, so I was willing to give them a try

My niece is a size 6, and for View B (the knee-length double-ruffled style in coffee above) I would need over thirty-seven yards of tulle.  You read that correctly....37+ yards of tulle at 54" wide, plus some fashion fabric (suggested: dupioni, shantung or taffeta) for the lining underneath it all. The taffeta was no problem to find at the Hancock location nearest me.  The tulle, however, took a bit of time to locate at a reasonable price.  If you stay away from really stiff nylon 'netting' and seek the much softer-feeling tulle in soft colors, you will be happy with your choice.

I ordered two bolts of tulle from a company I found on the internet.  There are many wedding suppliers so you may select a different one that stocks the perfect color at prices that fit your budget.  When I ordered, the website was having a sale on certain overstocked colors of tulle used at weddings, so I was able to purchase a 40-yard bolt of tulle for $11 from IdeaRibbon Wedding and Fabric Supply.  The colors on sale at that time were very limited, so I just selected black and red.  This link is another company that offers many colors, including tulle metallics and animal prints.  I also purchased beautiful double-faced 4" wide satin ribbon for a bow to tie around the skirt's elasticized waist was from The Hairbow Center at a very reasonable cost.  The customer service for both companies I used was surprisingly good, and I recommend them.

It did, however, take a while to cut the skirt out.  There are only three pieces for the lining, so I made it first.  The plain polyester black taffeta I purchased filled the bill.  No design questions or confusion, so it was finished and put aside fairly quickly.


Underskirt and Tulle Yardage
Simplicity 1427

The tulle portion of this project involved a little more work, though.  The ruffle required I cut that pattern piece 36 separate times against the foldline.  These sections were to be sewn (short side to short side) with double rows of stitching (1/4" apart within the seamline).  Each seam was to be trimmed and ironed to one side (sides in this case are considered the left side and right side of the skirt).  Then, the ruffles (in two 18-segment lengths) are folded in half lengthwise and gathered at the folded edge before being joined to the skirt front/back sections.  The skirt front/back is a pattern piece cut against the foldline sixteen times.  Then, there is what is called the 'overlay' which you are asked to cut against the fold twelve times.  The overlays are grouped and placed between the front/back ruffled layers and the taffeta underskirt.  I like that the underskirt has a yoke holding most of the gathers slightly below the elasticized waistband.  What this does is smooth the transition from the waistband gathers to a place a few inches lower, making your waistline appear smaller and the gathers less bulky because they are all not placed at the same spot.

Now, I don't wish to scare or discourage you from attempting this project yourself, but let me make you aware that following the instructions for each of the sections will take a considerable length of time.  You will rack your brain to think of an easier way to accomplish all of them.  I did--that is, racked my brain.  My 'solutions' did not necessarily expedite the process, though.

I purchased a double needle to avoid stitching the seam twice---it only darkened the stitching line, so I decided not to use it.  I also considered sewing french seams, but discarded that idea because the seams would not disappear, but would actually become more pronounced.  I tried to iron the tulle absolutely flat prior to cutting it....too time consuming.  I purchased multiple yards of stabilizer to determine if I could sew smooth straight in the tulle or needed to use something to sew underneath it.  The stabilizer was too difficult to pull away after the double rows of stitching were made.  The seams were fine without it, so there was no need to use it.

The only thing I will recommend is that you iron the selvage smooth (the tulle arrives rather rudely wrapped around the bolt) and use painters tape to hold the selvages together smoothly on your cutting surface.  Decide whether you will cut all four layers of tulle at once following the suggested fabric layout or just say, "Hang it!" and cut them one at a time (like I ultimately did).  I didn't have my largest cutting surface with me, otherwise, I would have definitely used a flat surface (like a dining table with my largest healing mat, i.e., Olfa) and use a rotary blade to cut the skirt pieces against a straight-edge ruler or yardstick.

If you decide to make the double-ruffled view as I did, measure your skirt front/back after your seams are joined, and use that measurement to pull the exact length of ruffle you need.  Trying to pin it together and pull the gathers to match the width of the skirt front/back is not as easy.

Otherwise, the entire process is straight forward, one step at a time...fundamentally one thing after the other until you're done. The entire cutting process can be completed even if you must cut each piece one layer at a time.  Take your time to make sure you are consistently identifying the same right/wrong side of the tulle so your seam allowances are all on the same side of the fabric.  (Yes, I goofed in this regard a couple of times myself, so check and double-check your work...lol).


Ballerina Posh
Photo Courtesy poshandspicy.wordpress.com
Double ruffle Chic
Photo Courtesy poshandspicy.wordpress.com

A few suggestions for the patternmaker or sewists using the pattern's current instruction sheet.  The instructions should be re-written for each view.  When constructing View B, it was disheartening to read, "...Continue same as View A, C.  Refer to steps 5 through 11."  As you can imagine, this caused much paper-flipping and marking on my instruction sheets.  As a matter of fact, I wrote Simplicity Customer Service to clarify an instruction to set aside one single-layer overlay for use later when I could not find where it was ultimately used.  The Customer Service promptly answered (within 24hrs!), and I was delighted to be able to move forward with the project.  Anyway....read through the instructions thoroughly prior to beginning any stitching.  You will be pleased that you understand the process ahead of time.

Now, the one thing that will wear on your nerves is the length of time it will take to pull the gathers, particularly for View B, the one I created.  Begin with a full bobbin each time you begin to sew a row of gathering thread.  (I sewed two rows of gathers, so remember each should begin with a full bobbin.)  Be careful to not pull so strongly that you break the gathering threads.  Remember, the two ruffle sections are sixteen segments (each) sewn together!  There are no marks that regulate how to distribute the gathers, so at least fold the ruffles lengthwise to mark side seams and distribute them evenly on each half of the overlays.  Do not be confused, these two ruffles attached to (1) a skirt front/back of a single layer and (2) another doubled layer of skirt front/backs (basted together). 

Below are pictures of the completed skirt with tops I made from a piece of FabricMart crushed velvet and some black mesh from my stash.  I used this pattern for Top 1, and made a second top from View A adding long sleeves as the second option.  What do you think?  If you would like to read a review of these two patterns, let me know.  The McCall's pattern presented a few obstacles, but I was able to convert them to design opportunities.

I tried to find a black cashmere sweater in her size, but was unsuccessful.  That will be something I will seek throughout this year.  I used the black mesh and combined it with something in her favorite color.  I'm sure she'll get many occasions to wear this skirt set, through both summer and winter.  This is a gift for (her third) Mother's Day and her (June) birthday.  I hope she likes it!



Top 1
from McCall's 6705
View A with long sleeves from View D

Top 2
from Vogue 8950
View B


Simplicity 1427 View B
Finished Skirt

Simplicity 1427
View B

Vogue 8950
View B

McCalls's 6705 top
Simplicity 1427 View B

I do NOT plan to make this skirt again.  I will, however, make a tea length version for myself in a soft butter yellow or antique gold.  It is now enroute to my niece.  I hope she appreciates all my effort!

Keep stitching, one stitch at a time....!




Sunday, April 20, 2014

Anne Klein at EasterTime....

Do you remember getting ready for Easter?   I do...!

It was the one time in the year when my hair was curled and my whole family dressed up with hats and gloves to celebrate the holiday.  I don't really remember if I concentrated on the true meaning of the holiday, but I remember practicing over and over in the weeks preceding it to commit to memory an Easter verse of some length (depending on my age), and being celebrated as smart and articulate following my recitation in front on the entire congregation at our church or Sunday School class.  I remember the great Easter meal that waited at home.  It always included deviled eggs, a ham with pineapple and maraschino cherries decorating the top, and plenty of home-made rolls....hot and buttery from the oven.

I no longer give Easter speeches or visit the main street or parks of the city to participate in Easter parades, but I seem to always prepare a dress to wear in celebration of the day.  This year, my fabric came from FabricMart, and was actually on sale for only $2.40 per yard when I bought it a few months ago.  My pattern selection took a lot of fabric (in my size (16) it took 3 1/2 yards of 60" fabric) because of the dress details, so I was looking for a low cost fabric to make this outfit.  I purchased 4 yards and felt I did a good job in reducing the cost of this project.


Vogue 1358
Courtesy of McCalls Pattern Company

I used Vogue 1358, and made no changes to the pattern in the process of completing the garment.  I do wish I has lengthened the hemline, though.  Vogue seems to be making them shorter and shorter nowadays.  The dress was one of the things I cut out on my one of my cutting marathons, and the garment required a lot of single layer cutting, which as you know, is tedious and time consuming.  The fabric is a lightweight burnout, and a good substitute for the silk, chiffon, charmeuse and crepe de chine fabric the pattern recommended.  The dress is fully lined, and I wish I had lined it with a fleshtone lining instead of the snow white poly I selected.  With my dark skin, the only unlined portion, the burnout area in the sleeves, contrast with the other sections of the garment, and could have been handled differently.  But, at least it will be cool and this summer will not require a slip when I wear it.



White/Black/Brown Animal-like Print Burnout
Poly/Cotton Shirting
from FabricMart

What may not be obvious is the dress has a pointed collar with a stand and a separately added facing at the ruffle that closes the bodice with a hook and eye.  The front of the dress joins with differently-shaped left and right skirts at the waistline, but the back of the dress has only a center back seamline.  I would suggest anyone trying this pattern to MARK THE PLEATS CAREFULLY.  There are a lot of them all close to one another!  Also, take the time to baste the narrow hems required around almost every piece of the garment's raw edges (including the lining).  Turning these raw edges evenly and carefully will determine the final finished appearance of the garment and will keep it from looking "Becky Home-ecky."  The interior seamlines are joined with french seams, keeping everything neatly finished.  Practice making them and remember to begin the first stitchline with wrong sides together!  I had to pause often because the right and wrong side of this fabric was so similar.  I can't imagine how it would be looking for the 'right' or 'wrong' side if I had used a piece of silk or charmeuse.  I'm sure I would have had to employ painters tape to mark them, but with this fabric I put the non-shiny side of the fabric outside.  Sewing at night was the only time the differentiation presented a problem.  

Will I make it again?  Probably not....This pattern was a lot of work for what was rated as an average-level challenge.  I did learn something new, though.  I put the collar together using a method I've learned since I began blogging, and I am very pleased with the finished appearance of the collar and stand.  I will be using it from now on and recommend this method to other sewists, too.  

I have also learned the secret to the success of a garment is to not be fearful of trimming the collar (and other interior) seams.  I've never trimmed confidently or thoroughly before.  If the instructions told me to trim to 1/4", I would probably trim it to 3/8" and would rarely grade the seams if there were multiple layers of fabrics in the seams.  But, I urge you to do it!...It makes such a difference in your finished garment!  I love when each sewing experience teaches me something new about sewing more expertly and confidently.  This dress taught me two good lessons.


Hung in front of the light
to show the sheerness of the fabric and lightness of the dress

Button and Loop at Dress Waistline
from G Street Fabrics

My local Hancock Fabrics just did not stock the proper button.  A black button seemed too dark, and a white one was too stark.  So I ventured on my second driving expedition in the DC area to reach G Street's famous button wall.  I just knew they would have a transparent button with black striations....and they did!  They cost $1 each (I needed seven...including the extra one I always purchase to hide inside an interior seam allowance), and their total was almost as much as what I paid for the fabric!  Do any of you do the same thing?  I will always pay the cost for the perfect button....they always make the outfit.


Finished Product

I wish you could see the detail on this dress.  I still am not expert on photographing garments in my sister's house....so I apologize for the repetitive surroundings.

Close-up of dress bodice

Dress Back

Dress Interior and the Shoes

Thanks for coming along for the ride.  I've got so many other garments to finish before the end of the month.  It's getting warmer and warmer, so sewing will lighten up, too!  Drop me a line if you have any questions.  I love comments, so feel free!  'Til next time....take it one stitch atta time!.....

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Okay...Where Were We?....

Have you been thinking of me?  I certainly have not forgotten you!  I've been busy and sewing between the holidays and regular days since my last post.  It's now about time I brought my friends and readers up to date on the specifics of these activities.

One thing I've begun since moving cross country (about a year ago) began because I currently have no dedicated sewing space.  I now have begun to work on multiple projects simultaneously.  It's only because when I cut something out (my least favorite part of the process), I must clean up and return the area used back to its original appearance.  So, I seem to have begun to cut out multiple projects at a time.  It's fine, but I've always been a 'one-project-at-a-time' sewist, so it seems to be taking me a longer time to get anything to the point where I can blog about the process.  I rarely hoard fabric or purchase it without a specific project in mind.  I worked at a fabric store during my son's last two years of high school and accumulated a lot of fabric at a substantial discount during those years.  Moving (and paying to move) lunks and trunks of this yardage cured me of hoarding.  Don't misunderstand, I still love beautiful fabric, so when the fabric is purchased, the next step is to cut the project out, organize it with the associated notions, and work on it with the hours or minutes I have available.   With that as a background of how my life currently works, I will share with you how my current minutes have been spent.

The things I seem to sew are things that make me stretch my talents and keep me open to new sewing experiences.  Most of the time, the projects I select appear nowhere else on internet blogging sites (like patternreview.com or the personal blogs on blogger.com or wordpress), so there are very few sewing hints or completed examples of identical projects posted by others.   I feel more like a pioneer in the sewing world.  Part of that is because I have been sewing for so many years, the 'standard solid-color-shift-dress' sort of sewing doesn't seem to interest me any more.  New and interesting designers do, though....and working with new and interesting fibers and textiles....and incorporating my other talents (cross stitch/embroidery/silk ribbon embroidery/quilting) keep my creative projects interesting.

I did take everyone's lead and create a dress from the ever-popular Vogue 1314 by Tracey Reese.  I bought an ideal  soft, patterned knit fabric from the local Hancock sale table for it.  My sister (another seamstress) copied me and rushed to the local store buy two yards for her own version in another color.  I had no problem with her actions because we've had many, many sewn items in our closets that are from the same pattern since we were little girls.  We always end up in identical clothing in different colors, and the picture below proves how proud we were of my mothers sewing talent (and our new bicycles). lol  



'The Girls'
Back in the Day in Nebraska

Weren't we adorable?????  Bows and all!..hahahahaha!!!!!...My sister would die if she knew I posted this pic, but you won't tell her, so she will never know...right?  I would have rather shown another pic of us at Easter in some identical frocks we wore that year.  She and I recently laughed long and hard about our holiday outfits as tried to remember which color hers was versus mine.  She didn't have a copy of the picture and mine remains packed away.....so, instead you get this little glimpse into our history.  We are a year apart in age and a size apart in clothing.  I think her interest in sewing no longer keeps pace with mine, but, she remains a creative individual and my creative backboard with a very good eye for style and 'the arts.'


Vogue 1314
Photo courtesy of McCalls Patterns

This pattern had been produced many times, so I was able to incorporate some design changes to improve the fit.  Invaluable were the suggestions made by Sarah, one of my favorite bloggers, posting to Goodbye Valentino. I had already completed my dress by the time she wrote the blog about this pattern, but I went back and opened the side seams to incorporate the changes she suggested.  It improved the garment dramatically, and I plan to make it again with the RTW changes the designer made to the original dress. Also...thank you, Andrea (posting from Knit-Knac.blogspot.com)  for the inspiration for my second version of this dress....I love this dress and the changes she plans to make to it; I am currently seeking the ideal fabric to duplicate the new version of this pattern, too.


Vogue 1314
Front Neckline

Wow!...my blogs are too long....but I can't leave without telling you about a couple of other projects 'in-process.'  This second one is taking a long time to cut out.  It took a long time to find the fabric and a few additional days to read the pattern instructions to make sure I understood the construction process.


Vogue 8957
Image Courtesy of McCalls.com

I LOVE this evening jacket!   I am making View B (shown above) which is sleeveless by design, but I will be adding the tiny cap sleeve from View A.  The jacket is fully lined and is put together by joining a series of split circles lengthwise (the number depending on the size you are creating).  The pattern in my size required 5 yards of fabric 60" wide.  The instructions suggest a template be made for the three circles, and they be cut from the yardage a total of 68 times...that's right....no typo...sixty-eight times!  The circles are joined by french seams (my choice) and the edges of each ruffle are to be double-rolled after staystitching.  I don't recommend this project to anyone fearful of handwork or as I've seen it called "fiddly" handwork.  It will be beautiful, though....and I will keep you posted on my progress.


Vogue 8957
Over 60+ pieces of fabric!

My non-sewing machine handwork includes cross stitch.  My current project is a little black girl in a yellow dress.  The pattern was purchased from an Etsy vendor, and I am working diligently on this every day for the past month or so.  She reminds me of my childhood when the neighbors used to refer to me as that 'big-legged girl.'  As you see, she has braids and ribbons, too, so she holds a special place in my heart.  I'm not sure if she will become a pillow or be framed on my wall, but she will be one of a pair of little black girls whose charts are waiting to be completed.  I know, more of tedious work that calms me and currently strains my eyes.  I am getting older....


Little Girl in a Yellow Dress
Cross Stitch
Okay....that's all for today.  This post has taken too long to compose.  I hope you enjoyed the update.  I haven't told you about my Easter dress because its soo springy and the weatherman is predicting another snowstorm tonite in my area.....sigh!  I will also include my completion of a summer version of the ever-popular Vogue 8728.

Vogue 8728
Photo Courtesy of McCalls.com
I goofed putting together the belt buckle, so I am re-doing that portion of this project.  It also includes a lapped zipper....I still detest the invisible type, but, I am getting better at them.  This vintage dress required an old fashioned installation at the side seam.  I'll show you the result on my next post.  It's been fun!...comment any time.  If I've omitted anything, please ask....I love comments and appreciate hearing from everyone who visits!

Remember....Keep going....one stitch at a time!....





Thursday, January 30, 2014

Moving On....Donna Karan Collection - Vogue 1341

My posts could easily slow to posting once in a blue moon, but I don't want to do that again!  I keep sewing and cutting out and ordering more fabric, so I must stay ahead of the curve by sitting at my computer to post what I have done to my blog.  Anyone who does this knows how long it takes (if you do it well), and for me....getting it right takes longer because I am not a writer.  I just wish to communicate with fellow sewists and give back to the community that has informed and improved my sewing experience.  So, here goes....another dress by Donna Karan.  I sewed this dress around Thanksgiving using a beautiful double knit purchased from Gorgeous Fabrics specifically for this pattern (just 2 yards).  Because the fabric is black, taking photographs that show the dress details is very difficult unless it is lit in bright lights or direct sunlight.  It also hangs funny on the hanger (highlighting my need for a dress form here) because the front bustline is full and has no rigid shaping beyond the tucks.

Vogue 1341

Vogue 1341
(back)

I really do like how the dress turned out; it could have been labeled one of those 'Easy" patterns, but it did have some sophisticated details.  For instance, there are no side seams and the zipper is to be placed in a seam with a curve which can be seen on the left back in the picture above.  Insertion of a perfect invisible zipper is critical here, and no place for anyone who has not mastered this art.  When you install the zipper, I recommend you place iron-on interfacing strips in the seam allowance.  Make sure it ends at least 1/4' beyond the seam allowance for a smooth appearance along its curve.  I usually avoid invisible zippers, but this dress requires one even though the notions listing on the envelope back does not specifically say it.  The curve of the seam would not work with a standard zipper insertion, so do yourself a favor and take this recommendation.

The dress also has a one-shoulder lining (not essential, but desirable in my opinion).  To put this design together, you need diligence in marking the tucks that define the dresses shape.  There are only a few, including a couple on the sleeves, but the many pattern dots can be confusing if you don't color-code them or pay attention to which way the folds should lay.  As I removed each pattern piece, I immediately handbasted the tucks and pinned them in the correct position.  This one process was one that made putting this dress together much easier than it might have been otherwise.

As a designer, Donna Karan feels a woman's shoulders (including her collarbone) are one of the last things to go as we age.  If yours haven't disappeared yet, you may wish to take advantage of this dress' design details to show them off.  Don't look for the inward fit at the waistline you see in the pattern picture, the pattern doesn't allow for the close fit the picture purports it has.  It just means those of us with a little more waistline will create a dress that fits just fine without any adjustments.  I find that is what happened with me although I wish it had a closer waistline fit.  I made no alterations there or at hemline or bustline, either.  The pattern pieces are such unusual shapes, I wouldn't have known where to begin on either.  The pattern is no longer available on the McCalls/Vogue website, and for such a recent pattern, the lack of easily made alteration points may be why it was discontinued so quickly.  I would recommend this dress be made from a knit with heft and weight.  The fabric needs weight to hold the designs details and not have the tucks collapse on one another.  I will be trying this one again, though.  The second one will be in a brighter color.  Looking for a coral or turquoise double knit, perhaps.


Vogue 1341
(technical drawing)

Vogue 1341
(dress zipper in curved seam)

Vogue 1341
Slip/Lining


Nice label, huh?
Thanx Ann!

Vogue 1341
(dress front)


If you decide to try it, drop me a note if you feel my comments were validated in your sewing experience.  I'd love to hear from you....til then, keep sewing....one stitch atta time!



Monday, January 20, 2014

I Sew Quite a Few Vogue DKNY Patterns....

My recent pattern selections include a lot of the designs of Donna Karan.  Other than the 'shorter than (personally) flattering' skirt lengths, this particular designer seems to focus on the structural details that appeal to me.....i.e., tucks, pleats and the neckline and shoulder details that attract my attention.  The next project I recently completed falls right in this line.

Vogue 1287
Photo Courtesy of Vogue Patterns

This dress surprised me.  The fabric suggestions on the pattern back were all very light-weight fabrics like silk crepe, charmeuse and lightweight jerseys.  Because these are such delicate and 'summery-weight' fibers, the pattern also included a separate slip Vogue suggested be made from crepe de chine.  My fashion fabric choice was very different for the dress I constructed.  I chose what FabricMart called a black/white giraffe print stretch knit.  It was 60" wide, and would not require any under-slip for modesty or warmth so I didn't include making the slip in my version.  Of course the fabric was on sale for some ridiculously inexpensive price per yard (less than $4), so I began my project comfortable I would only need the interfacing, thread and elastic for notions.  I did a standard FBA, and lengthened the hemline one inch.  The photograph's fabric doesn't reveal the design details, but should you peek at the technical drawings, you will see a pocketline that wraps and moves the dress side seam more to the rear of the dress.


The dress was very simply constructed, with many flattering pleats at the shoulder seam and waistline above (and below) the waistband.  The back waistband is kept snug against your body with a small length of non-roll elastic 1-1/2" wide.  The hemline has a facing, which was a pleasant option from the standard 'turn-it-up-5/8"-and-stitch' instructions that have become so prevalent.  

The only instruction confusion occurred at Step 16.  The picture that accompanies the verbiage was confusing, so just remember the shaded (right side of the fabric) is only a part of the right side of your garment and not a strangely shaped pattern piece.  There are very few interior seams to serge or finish, and I put lightweight interfacing in the pocket facings and hemline.  All in all, I think I will make this one again....right after I go through all the other DKNY designs that are waiting.  lol


Dress Front
Vogue 1287

Dress Back
Showing Pocket Position

As I said, I liked this pattern and recommend you create one for yourself.
I thank you for stopping by.  I hope to get better and better at posting pictures of my garments without an available dress form.  My sister doesn't have one, and although I have two, neither are available until I stop moving cross country or buy her one.  She doesn't sew as much as I do, and I certainly do not need a third dress form!  Sigh!....lol

I keep going....one stitch at a time!  You do the same!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Do You Remember the Selfish Seamstress?

Do any of you remember the posts of the Selfish Seamstress?  If you've been reading sewing blogs as long as I have, you would miss her as much as I do.  She was a fabulous exceptional seamstress and had a witty sense of humor that left you panting for her next project and post....which always included a tongue-in-cheek rant that reinforced her commitment to sewing only for herself.

This past year or so, after moving cross county to be with my recently-widowed sister, the pressure to sew for her friends and the new people I meet became intense.  Although the Selfish Seamstresses posts had become infrequent (following her marriage and move to Europe), I sought out her blog just to purchase one of the coffee cups she offered with her original haiku poems that politely discourage the begging.  The one I chose says, "Sew something for you?  It's not that I don't have time...I just don't want to."  (teehee)  I keep it on my sewing spot filled with the small notions I constantly reach for.  In spite of her blog's inactivity, all of her items are still available and can be purchased to support St. Jude's Hospital for Children, and include a variety of tote bags, tshirts and customizable mugs with similarly unique haiku.  (Check them out....and if anyone knows of her whereabouts, tell her we miss her!)

I had gotten pretty good at dissuading the begging babble that surrounds accomplished sewists, and had gotten really good at politely rebuffing their offers of payment, no matter what the project.  This holiday season was very discouraging, though.  Because of a very limited budget, I chose to make presents for my immediate family and the results reminded me of the reason I had refrained from sewing for anyone except myself.

The niece I had made things for all her life now had an opinion and seemed not to like what I created....she didn't take it out of the box or say much about it...not even a mumbled, "Thank you."  She sorta sniffed at what I described as the 'difficulties' I encountered making it.  (I lengthened each 3 inches, the horn buttons came from China via an EBay seller and I quilted the inside lining.  I was really pleased with the long-haired fur, which had been ordered from a website:  imstuffedfur.com)  The special length zippers (my niece is 6'2" barefoot) were ordered from an Etsy seller (Zipit) and I enjoyed look;ing for the special zipper pull placed on each one.  This niece has lupus and recently had knee surgery, so she needs to keep her joints warm as she performs her work-related duties.  I thought this was going to be a great present., although my sister predicted she would not like it and suggested instead that I ask my niece what she wanted.  I was too far in, too much time had been spent, too much money had been invested in the project.  I had only enough time to finish it before the holiday, and no time to rethink the process.  Did I have enough money to purchase whatever she would say she wanted?  No....so I plunged forward to complete the project.  I just hoped she would be gracious, and watched if she keyed on my sister's reaction...it was disappointing.

McCalls 6809


Very Easy Very Vogue 9427

My sister didn't goo and gush over her gift either, in spite of the effort and details I put into the project; she sews as well, so has knowledge of how time-consuming my efforts were.  I made the jacket from a plush deep purple fleece.  I quilted the inside hood/jacket facing and made cording for its edge.  Not sure if she liked it either, beside it being extremely soft and warm.   She did say thank you, however and has been wearing inside the house.


Purple and Warm

I know, I know....I have learned that you should give a gift for the pleasure of giving it, and that's what I am concentrating on.  I have made the decision not to put as much work into gifts for individuals that don't express an appreciation for the effort.  Maybe I do better at gifts for the little ones in my life.....i.e., my great nephew and 3 grandsons.  They seem to give me the big smile and thanks for the puppets, stuffed animals and aprons gifted them this past year or so.  I'm trying to be more understanding for my relatives who benefited and felt entitled during the years prior to the U.S. economic hiccup and the salary of a seasoned employee vs. the beginning salary my son and I began with.  Now, instead of getting what you may want, you should develop the skill to appreciate what you are given.  I can't be the only person who feels this way.

I've suddenly become a fan of the proverbial innocuous gift card....I'll be giving them more as gifts in the future.  I marvel at a fellow blogger who cheerfully accepted the fact that his mother did not like the housedress he made for her and (seemingly unaffected) he bounced out to get more fabric in an effort to please her with another effort.  I pray I can cheerfully try, try again.  I'll begin that journey tomorrow.  But, today, I am more like the Selfish Seamstress.  It seems safer....

I continue my journey....one stitch at a time....

Friday, January 10, 2014

Finishing Last Year's Projects....Vogue 1268


I have so much holiday sewing to complete!  And with it being so cold out here in the eastern United States, I can find few valid reasons to leave the house other than work or walking my dog, Domino.  Yes, I have finally purchased a few pairs of socks to wear in this frigid weather, and it now takes less than two hours for my feet to warm up after coming inside. lol  My hands stay busy, and this post is to describe the last step taken to complete a sewing project begun over a year ago.

It turned out pretty well as far as sewing goes, and I have just sewn on the single button, the finishing touch to this fully-lined synthetic suede dress.  I have seen a few versions of Vogue 1268 on Patternreview.com, and only one seamstress completed  her garment in a similar weight fabric as mine.  We also had a similar assessment about the final results of the Guy Larouche pattern style and final fit.  

Vogue 1268
Image courtesy of McCall Patterns

I purchased the fabric I used (from either fashionfabricsclub.com or fabricmart.com) before I moved from California, and completed the dress not too long after arriving here in Virginia.  I had gained a bit of weight in the interim, so there was no trying it on until recently, after dropping approximately 25-30 lbs.  Now that I have returned to something closer to my 'normal' weight, I have sewn on the statement button and am ready to place it into my very limited wardrobe rotation.

Diamond-stitched Microsuede
Photo courtesy of Martha's Fabrics

The dress was cut in a size 16 with a FBA for a DD bustline at the time.  I now am closer to a size 12 or 14 and my ribcage is 2" smaller and only a D cup at the bustline.  I did no other adjustments to the pattern, neither lengthening the dress at the hemline or changing the sleeve length.  I worked hard to get the one buttonhole as perfect as I could, seeing that it was a focal point of the dress and almost as large as a small welt pocket (overexaggeration) and difficult to ignore.  lol

The pictures below show the selection I made for the single buttonhole.  Yes, it is a large one....about 1-1/2" across.  It was one of the largest available from a website called As Cute as a Button based in San Diego, CA.  I was pleased that I was able to get the button through my bound buttonhole, which I made approximately 1-3/4" wide.


Button from "As Cute as a Button"


Dress Front


I also added an heavy duty hook and eye to hold the front of the dress stable.  I am very pleased with the finished product.  I chose a pair of heels from Sole Society to wear with it.  They are taupe and dark brown with a gold-colored piping around an edge that ties the ensemble together.  I plan to wear this with dark brown tights as soon as an appropriate occasion presents itself.  Hopefully, soon!

Sole Society Shoe


Dress Front
Vogue 1268

Dress Back


Just before the New Year, I also finished a gift for my middle grandson.  He seems to have become obsessed with PacMan, so I took it upon myself to order some custom-designed fabric from Spoonflower that had the colorful representation of that game.  Are you familiar with Spoonflower?  We'll discuss that experience in the next post!  I hope all of my readers return to hear and see the details of that experience.  Happy New Year to you and all my fellow bloggers.  I'm trying hard re-kindle my blogging desire and post more this year.  I learn so soooo much from reading all the blogs I follow, I feel obligated to contribute my two cents.  Please write me back!  I enjoy your comments

'Til then....keep sewing....one stitch at a time!
P.S. .....Domino says Hi!