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

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

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 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!

I keep 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:  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? I plunged forward to complete the project.  I just hoped she would be gracious, and watched if she keyed on my sister's 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 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, 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 or 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 stitch at a time!
P.S. .....Domino says Hi!