Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Sweet Chic Gift for a New Baby

One of the most difficult things to locate is an appropriate gift for a new baby.  My sister's sewing background is as long as mine, so when she thought she needed a good present for the new grandchild of a college friend, she agreed I could share her ideas with you!   This was a pattern you have probably missed or overlooked in your reviews of new patterns, so I am sharing a few details in case you are thinking of creating a gift for a 'little one.'  Look for the McCall's pattern 6980, pictured below:

McCall's 6980
'Learn-To Cat'

The pattern provides options for a cat (wearing a dress, as above) or a raccoon who is designed wearing pants and a shirt (appropriate for a young boy).  Of course, the raccoon could be dressed in the blouse and pinafore, or the cat would wear the pants, as well.  I feel this is a great, modern option for the 'quiet books' which have options for each child to learn how to manipulate the functions of the closures on clothing in today's world.   It was created by designer Susan Cousineau of Sew Sweet Chic.  She has been designing since 1993, and I have provided a link so you can look into her creative background and other designs. 

The picture above is the cat made by my sister.  The colors of the dress coordinate with the colors in the baby's room, and the stuffed animal's design includes the snaps, buttons, shoe lace tying, zips and Velcro closures of interest to a young child learning to be independent.  It was fun picking out all the varied fabric patterns and colors for the kitten, and I was her cheerleader to finish the project before the baby's arrival.  I asked her permission to post the project, and she even answered my questions on what changes, warnings and improvements she would recommend for others completing this project.

Front and Rear of Finished Project

Design Improvements/Options:
DS says she could not envision the cat without including a tail.  The one you see in the picture above is one of her own design, including my suggestion of including a couple pipe cleaners to give it shape and some position options.  If you include one, you will need to create your own opening for it.  The seam on the cat's bottom is out of position to hold the tail, so you can create a new seam or a circular opening in the cat's bottom for it.  The cat also includes a few squeakers she included for auditory stimulation (in the paws (hands), feet (shoes) and belly).  I had a few in my stash, ordered from a catalog pet supply to replace those pulled from my Westie's well-loved toys.  (Domino always pulled the stuffing from his squeaky toys as a puppy, so now he only gets the toys without stuffing and multiple squeakers, which I quickly replace when they are punctured.)   The baby was a little girl, so she could not leave our home without a bow sitting right atop the head, as we wore every day as little girls. 

Select all fabrics with strong and tight weaves.  Because of the fabric pattern she wanted, DS selected the cheeta print from a selection of flannels.  It became problematic because of its loose weave.  Avoid this problem in your version.  If you would like the shoes to look like 'real shoes,' plan for including eyelets (my suggestion, my stash) and avoid stitching the laces in the seams on the top of the shoes.  I gave her the eyelets from my stash, but she didn't want to make the shoes look like saddle oxfords by using some pleather I had on hand.  Make sure your notions are in bright colors and are in all colors of the rainbow.  These are all learning options, each button (see the differently-colored flower buttons in the pictures?), oversized snap, and indoor/outdoor zipper can be from each and every color available.  One shoe has ties, one has a Velcro closure.  The cat also has a bracelet with a Velcro closure, so think of colorful and interesting options for each, keeping in mind your desire to keep each child-safe (ensuring they are not too small to be safe for small mouths, ears and noses). 

Thank you for stopping by to read my little blog.  Enjoy the your freedom to celebrate and salute our nation's veterans today.  Thanks to each and every one.

I am sewing, and have many surprises.  If you have any questions on this project, I will certainly find out the answers and post them for you.  I LOVE comments, so don't be shy!  I hope you stop by again, soon.  More interesting projects and pictures are on the horizon!

'Til then, keep sewing....one stitch at a time....!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Linda Carr...Rib-It Rib-It!

My sister collects frogs, so I have bought her many over the years for various celebrations.  She has a beautiful back yard, so many were outside statuary or birdfeeders, and many others are what I call 'dust-catchers' (ceramic and glass) for the shelves and nooks inside her home.  When I saw the pattern for this frog bag (Vogue 8942) I immediately thought of her making it for her, but I knew it was not her style.  I bought the pattern anyway thinking it might be considered more masculine and could end up as a gift for one of my three grandsons.  The measurements (7"w x 10"h x 8"d) make it a rather small purse, so would also fail as a functional schoolbag.  Still, I felt it was so unique I proceeded with my plan to bring it to 'life. '  I decided this item will end up in my personal bag collection and could be used as a special lunchbag or conversation piece. 

Mr. Froggy hanging in a tree
Photo Courtesy Vogue Patterns

I collected the fabric over the next couple of months from the Home Dec section of my local Hancock Fabrics using their frequent and ongoing sales.  I ordered the handbag hardware from a vendor I had never used before, The BuckleGuy.com.  His service and product quality could not have been more perfect.  He carried everything I needed, from swivel clasps and turn lock closures to the 1" rings in different finishes....including the antique brass finish I was looking for.  While I was at it, I added four antique brass feet to keep the purse's bottom off surfaces and to prevent the wear-and-tear caused by some of the rough places where purses land.

The most difficult notion to select were the zippers.  You need one twelve-inch and two seven-inch zippers.  Per the pattern's instruction sheet, you are asked to remove several inches of zipper teeth to re-size each to fit the side pockets and the major opening on the frog's head, so be prepared with the proper tools (mine were zipper pliers (from Wawak.com) because I was determined to use purse zippers with metal teeth.  Be mindful that invisible or coil zippers may not be suitable for this project because of the shortening requirements.  I knew I would need to replace the zipper stop at the top, so I used a few pairs in antique brass from my stash.

My go to source for all stuffed animal eyes has been Carol's Zoo.  She has many options and prompt service, so finding eyes for the frog was the easy part of my search.

The assistance and information provided by Zipit on Etsy.com untangled all my zipper option questions and the choice of colors available were second to none when selecting the actual zippers.  The order of three zippers arrived quickly and were perfect for my project.  My hint is that you can select a zipper an inch smaller if your color does not come in the exact length you need.   It helps you avoid the task of removing many inches of teeth by choosing the shorter length rather than a longer one.  (The palm of my hand still hurts from my selection of a purse metal zipper which is heavier than the standard metal zipper...). 

It was also rather confusing because the pattern's 'fiddly' pieces were not individually identified on the large tissue that contained the strips and tabs that surround the zippers.  Vogue could have done much better on this, but you are on your own to determine the what goes where.  See the photo below as an example:

Fiddle-dee-dee!  Piece No. 26 - Vogue 8942

This tissue is number 26; the instructions say to 'cut two.'  Beginning with the upper left corner, the pieces are identified only as 'tab,' 'loop,' and 'band.'  I had to determine the top two 'tabs' were to be used to cover the top and bottom of the 7-inch zippers.  The next larger 'tab' was to be used to loop around the purse's two rings, and the far right tabs were to be used to cover the top and bottom of the 12-inch zipper.  And (in order, top to bottom) the three 'bands' were to be used as the band for the outer edge of each side pocket, the bands on either side of the 12-inch zipper, and the bands for either side of the 7-inch zippers.  I had to figure all this out, and keep them all in order and clearly marked. This did not have to be that hard!....and there were two such sheets of small fiddly pattern pieces in the pattern (the other was piece No. 21).  Needless to say, I made it through....

This project came together and became charming when I sewed the final seam; the one that closed the top of the 12" zipper and the top of the frog's head.  "Voila!"  It was truly magical and one of my favorite projects this year...a real cutie pie.  Then I had to decide the color eyes to insert.  I purchased a sets of both green and yellow, and initially I couldn't decide which one to use.  The picture below of my purse reflects my final decision.

Why am I sitting in this corner?

I don't play piano...don't leave me here!

Am I hiding alongside the brush?

Froggy Side View

Froggy Rear Showing Side Pocket and Back Opening

Would I make another one?  He is cute, but probably not.  How many froggy bags does one girl need?  LOL

Have a great day everyone!

Keep sewing, one stitch at a time!

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 two-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

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 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!