Saturday, September 24, 2016

Sleeve variation on a tunic top, plus more sleeve talk

Why is it so satisfying to use a pattern multiple times? I know I'm not the only one that derives some extra sewing pleasure from pattern reuse. For my part, it mostly appeals to my thrifty side. By making another version that is perhaps one fewer new pattern purchased. Plus there is the saved time because I have already done the pattern fitting.
So what did I get my money's worth from this summer? It's the very simple but elegant New Look 6677. Which in fact cost me nothing as I found it in a grab bag of patterns that my friend Alice gave me some months ago. And used first to make her this blue eyelet top - a complete success. And then I made another version for myself.

I have neglected to share a few of the Craftsy sewing blog posts that I had published recently - I have been doing some how-to posts on sleeves and wanted to do a post on how to design a flutter sleeve. Which is not really my favorite but it is kind of useful, and looks really pretty when used on the right top or dress.

Flutter sleeve blouse example

I decided to use this New Look top pattern to make a version with the flutter sleeves. This fabric was from Joann fabrics, it is nice rayon woven, lightweight and just right for a bit of flutter in the sleeves. I loved the color and saw it there in the front on a few different visits to the store (where I go mostly to buy random stuff that I don't have, like buttons for a specific project or lining) So with a discount coupon it was around $ 8. For this fabric, using the border print was no problem, it wasn't an issue to turn the fabric sideways and cut on the cross grain. But do take note of that, sometimes there are border prints, with some stretch, but by cutting on the cross grain it has the stretch running the wrong way (which is up and down instead of around the body). I have also fallen into that trap with a solid - in this post the second jacket shown I cut with the stretch going the wrong way and it bugs me a lot!)

These woven rayons and rayon challis are really nice fabrics to sew, although they do wrinkle a bit too much for my taste. But for dresses and blouses they are vastly better than quilting cottons, the drape is perfect for a lot of styles.

A look at the flutter sleeve. Once finished I think this didn't really go with the rest of the garment. A flutter sleeve looks much better with an open neckline, so you can guess what I did later.

Here is the link to my Craftsy post on how to create the flutter sleeve. I do think it is a nice sleeve used in the right spot - some people just don't want their arms to show, or require a bit more coverage but a regular sleeve seems constricting or too casual. This is a good sleeve to try if you want to avoid doing a bicep adjustment. Basically everything in the design book that I use can look fantastic or goofy - it just depends on using each design element in the right spot. For some reason I think of these sleeves on a bias cut satin evening gown in a 1930's black and white movie with a glamorous vixen running around with a fur stole and gardenia in her hair.

Craftsy flutter sleeve post2

And here is a look at it on me. While I love the fabric I didn't like the look very much. Perhaps it is the proportion, the top might be kind of long but I was going for the tunic look. Also it would look good with white jeans but I think it was about 100˚F when we took this picture so shorts it was. It seems too covered up with that collar which works so well with the sleeveless version. As evidenced by a lot of my other posts, I am a proportion scrutinizer. I think that a part of sewing experience is being able to evaluate the shapes and proportions of a pattern or garment, not just as designed but as it looks on your own body.

flutter top on me front

You can guess what it did next. Actually since I had my doubts on the sleeves but needed to photograph for the Craftsy post, I just machine basted them on. Then I let this one marinate for a while, even putting it on one evening as I was going out to meet friends for a drink - but it just didn't feel right. So back on the dress form for some more contemplation. And finally this happened.

aqua top front v2aqua top back v2

For me so much more wearable.  And here is a terrible iPhone timer photo taken late in the day when the lighting wasn't cooperating, thus the color looks really off. I like it so much better and have already worn it a few times. Plus tomorrow it is supposed to be 100˚ here again so I am still wearing my sleeveless summer tops despite autumn being just around the corner. Proved by the number of leaves falling in my front yard and the bedraggled look of all the plants which are very tired and just waiting for some much needed rain!

blue top2

On the theme of sleeves I also did another recent post for Craftsy, on how to do the Tulip sleeve. Which is another variation that cleverly uses the existing sleeve pattern piece and is them modified. Which makes it easy to sew into the garment because you don't change the sleeve cap at all. Check it out!  And that grey dotted top pictured in the post was a test garment for a new to me New Look pattern, since I had such success with the one at the top of this post I checked out their pattern book for another and found this one, New Look 6374. Super cute pattern, hideous on the pattern envelope, and I have already made a couple of versions.

craftsy flutter sleev post2

If you are interested in sleeve fitting and sewing, I have done a number of posts on Craftsy on various sleeve-y topics. Here some of my previous ones if you want to take a look. And I have another one in progress, soon to be published, deconstructing sleeve patterns with explanations on all the various markings. Whew! sleeves are an endless supply of topics, who knew?

How to make a two-piece sleeve (very good for fitting a full bicep)

Pattern Adjustment: how to ensure your sleeve fits perfectly

How to sew sleeves in a coat or jacket

Thank you everyone for your nice comments on my previous post, on the striped and pieced Burda dress. I was looking at the BurdaStyle website and see a version that is color-blocked - that might be my favorite version by far. I am really happy with the fit of the dress so that pattern will go in the "perhaps to be sewn again next spring" category. It would a great one for color-blocking using up smallish pieces of solid color fabric. It interests me that a lot of readers often suggest adding a cardigan in a bright color. I appreciate the suggestion - but I never wear cardigans :) In fact I think I might have two? I'm just not a cardigan wearer - either it is a pullover sweater in the winter because it is chilly or I wear a sleeveless dress because it is very hot here - so cardigan weather doesn't really happen. Plus if I sewed up a nice dress then I don't want to cover it up with a cardigan! Yep we all have our wardrobe quirks.  Now jackets are another story.

Speaking of jackets - I am just starting on a wool jacket. Because I am bonkers. OK not that. I did a big closet clean out a few weeks ago, however I still have soooooo many nice wool coats and jackets. But sometimes you just get a bug in your head and have to sew something new, right?  Speaking of bugs, I have a annoying cold this weekend (when is having a cold not annoying?) so I am taking it easy, catching up on my Tivo recordings and maybe doing a bit of sewing. I went to Seattle last week to see friends and it seems like a 50-50 chance that if I fly anywhere I get a cold, usually after the return. Anyone else experience this? Oh well, enough whining...

Because it was so worth it - one of my best friends moved up to the great northwest (as I call it) about 18 years ago so I've had the opportunity to visit often. While I always prefer palm trees to pine trees it is beautiful and green, and their food/wine scene is great. My friends just bought a vacation house on San Juan Island - so we did the ferry trip over there and I got to see that, very fun. I have a feeling I will be back. They have dungeness crab almost all year round - lucky them. It's a winter treat here in NorCal and last year the season was delayed due to environmental reasons. Which is tough on the local SF fisherman and also not good for our Christmas table.

But I will always be partial to the Golden State. So I couldn't resist taking this picture out the airplane window - look at that sunshine over the Golden Gate Bridge. And you can even see the Farallon Islands, which is our benchmark for how clear the sky is over the bay area. That is tiny Alcatraz island in the middle, and then Angel island on the right, which is a state park, has ferry service and you can even camp. Although I have never been there!

the Golden Gate, September

Happy weekend sewing,


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fun with Stripes: Burda Asymmetric Sheath dress 04/2016 # 119B

Here's something I sewed a few weeks ago and I just can't warm up to it. Which I attribute entirely to the color. Or non-color, to be more accurate. As I have mentioned before, I just don't like to wear black very much. Or solid navy blue for that matter. Let's include brown in that category, and beige. Just not a fan of any of those colors. On the other hand if it is a bright color then I am happy. Actually that is the bottom line - I think I'm just one of those people who react to color a lot and particularly bright and saturated colors.

Which is a long way round of saying that while I really like this style and shape, and the actual fabric is quite nice, but the final result is just not giving me a thrill. Also it is really difficult to find vertically striped fabrics. Although when I found this at Stone Mountain the rational side of my brain told me "oh this will be really suitable for that pattern, and make a nice and interesting wardrobe basic".

Ok, enough yammering, here it is.  (note - drawing results on previous post's pattern giveaway at the end of this post)


I saw this pattern in the April issue and knew I wanted to sew it. But just needed to find the vertically striped fabric. I think I have seen other versions on line, particularly this version  which is in a color way that I love. Her stripes are all going the different way than mine, I think she used a horizontally striped fabric and rotated the pattern pieces. In any case I wanted to sew it like the pattern was designed, also I have something where I cut a knit with disregard for the direction of stretch and will never do that again! By the way, I don't buy the Burda magazines, I just purchase the PDF's of patterns I want, which is maybe one or two every few months.

When I look at these photos on my computer the stripes make the images look really messed up - hopefully they are showing up properly here.

Front and back on the dress form. I don't think the stripes are supposed to line up in the front at all. To tell the truth I studied the example on the Burda website for a good 10 minutes, then when I traced out all the pattern pieces I carefully added marks so I could make some of the stripes across the bodice seams connect - but really to no avail. I concluded that it was not possible and even not necessary.

diagonal stripe on form front2  diagonal stripe back on form

See what I mean, check out that seam under the bust. I figured it should match (i.e. stripes intersect) at the center front and then it would also do so elsewhere - but of course it doesn't because it is a slightly curved seam, and not a 90˚ angle, in fact all the edges are curved and slice at different angles to each other. So don't bother with any matching. I could have sewed this a lot faster if I had skipped this effort.  Although the center back is a different - better - story. In that the is two sides that are mirror images so it does match there which I think looks nice.

diagonal stripe close up front neckline on form

For what looks like a simply shaped sheath dress I did a fair amount of fitting. I moved that small strap in just a quarter inch where it hits the neckline, just to make it easier to wear. I took it up at the shoulders a bit, standard adjustment for me as I am short. Added a little bit of length to the top bodice piece. Graded out in the hips, after starting with a Burda 38 bodice. Since it is a knit I made it on the slim side, although there is probably about 2 inches of ease in the waist.


Sewing details, I think in the instructions - which I did look at - tell you to put fusible interfacing on the seam edges. Which seemed like a bit of work but I just cut a bunch of the strips and then added the fusible to every edge. I think this makes a huge difference in helping to keep the dress in its shape  All those asymmetric seams press nicely and hold the curve as designed. I think it might stretch out or just not lay flat without the fusible. One of my sewing mottoes is "always more interfacing" so this project was no exception.

black stripe construction

diagonal sripe8

I thought about doing a full knit lining but decided it didn't need it, the fabric is nicely opaque and it didn't really need it. The facings provided by the pattern actually worked really well. I use some solid black knit fabric for the facing, and did interface the edges of the facings.

inside views diagonal stripe

diagonalstripe back view

I like the back neckline, but not so crazy about how the stripe worked out along the center seam in the skirt portion. It's hard to tell, even in the close ups but the stripes are white and blue. Not that the tiny bit of blue adds much. I did post a dress form pic of this dress on Instagram a while ago and it got a lot positive comments, so I will be interesting to see the reaction here.

Do you ever have a pair of shoes that you like when you look down at your feet but when you see them in pictures or catch a glimpse in the mirror they look strange? These black wedge sandals always get a try-on but actually get worn kind of rarely. Too many straps maybe? You can see in a couple of these photos I have on a different pair of even older black sandals. Which perhaps look better? See it pays to just keep stuff until it comes back in style, ha ha.

diagonal stripe7

Sewing for fall seems upon us - and my response to that is yuck! Fall fashions, fall sewing, change of seasons - no thank you! Look at all those fallen apples in my yard, yellow leaves, dry grass. I tolerate fall/winter and plan for spring.

How about an action shot? It is a shame that this giant apple tree is so productive, because the apples are terrible. One day a couple of weeks ago I picked up at least 100 apples and that was just the beginning stage of the apple onslaught. The squirrels and the birds like them and the shade is nice, Plus the blossoms in the spring are gorgeous. So apple tree reprieve.

diagonal stripe6

Next up - some striped t-shirts, another silk top which is actually a transitional fall piece, and I have just completed the pattern work (flat pattern adjustment and then a quick test muslin) for a wool dress and an interesting jacket.

Happy early fall sewing, 

For my previous post - the drawing for two patterns from my stash, will these readers please email me with your mailing addresses.
Robin - for the leather top pattern
PoldaPop - for the Vogue ballgown dress pattern   

There is an email button up at the top of the blog under my profile. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Pattern Nostalgia and a pattern giveaway

It's been over a year since I joined Instagram, mostly to do the Sew Photo Hop which is a lot of fun and a great way to discover some new stitchers to follow. I am still kind of lukewarm on IG, mostly because I like words. Yes, words, sentences, explanations, details. And a single picture is not going to cut it for me. I read far too many blogs and then lots of other web content, plus listen to a lot of podcasts and that seems to get to my maximum level of consumption. I fear doing any other internet based sewing stuff (like twitter, various forums etc) would just add to the screen time I already kind of regret. After all, that is not sewing time - or even life. Do you know what I mean?

Not to say I don't have fun with IG, in fact I have reconnected with some people and got great inspiration from others. But words are my thing. By the way - I did an interview with a now defunct sewing podcast so it never aired. So I'm not sure if I should be happy or sad about that. Hearing your own voice recorded is always a bit painful, but I was looking forward to sharing the link and having you hear my views on sewing. I recall it included a lot of my hard and fast opinions about things like: interfacing - use more! bias binding - not a fan! and pressing - do it! So if you are doing a podcast and want an opinionated and experienced sewer I am available:)

by the way - details on the pattern giveaway are at the bottom of the post if you want to skip ahead.

Back to Instagram, it is fun to see what people on the other side of the globe (and the season) are doing, sewing-wise. Recently Sew Busy Lizzy in Australia posted a vintage Style pattern  that she bought and she wondered about that pattern company. Which sent me to look in my old pattern storage boxes as I used to use those Style patterns. Were they bought by another pattern company? Maybe Simplicity? In any case they had some really nice patterns, I always thought they lived up to their name as very stylish.

In the box I found a couple that I made many versions of, and one that I never used but now think I might try next spring. I'm sure I sewed this one at least once, probably as a sarong style dress to wear on vacation. See - my catchphrase applies - no new patterns. Recognize the current versions of this dress?
Style 2526 Vintage

Here's the one that I never sewed up. I kept this one out of the storage box, maybe next spring I will find some nice woven rayon and sew it up. The sleeveless version is my perfect combo of dress features.

Style 2225

I both wanted to and didn't want to show you this one. Yes it is dated - look at the shoulders on that jacket. As I recall when I first started working and was maybe 22 ? I sewed up this pattern in a really soft crinkly fabric that was an ikat print in shades of blue. The unlined jacket was more like a big cardigan, albeit with shoulder pads (ha ha) but I think I had enough fabric to make a tank top so sometimes I wore the jacket and skirt with a white top and then also wore the skirt with the matching tank top for a dress look. But the thing to note is....Michael Kors !  Yes before he did patterns for Vogue this pattern company had him. I wonder what others I missed. And this skirt is so beautifully shaped, I made other versions as well. No fastenings, quick to make and very nice to wear.

Style 1061 MK

I found a few other goodies in my pattern storage box. My habits have never changed, if I bought a pattern and it resulted in a garment I liked then I kept it. If it was crummy or the garment turned out badly then I chucked it out. So these were keepers for a reason.

This Butterick dress I sewed up more than once, I think in a light blue linen for the V-neck version. Note the neckline of version C and E, it has a hint of curve and was so pretty. Made that in a printed rayon I think. Also I like skirts with pleats instead of darts.

Butterick 6389 Vintage

I have a lot of these Vogue designer patterns that I would classify as "business wear".  Well they say career in red type right there on the pattern :) I know I made that blouse in the top image more than once, it was really nice to wear under a suit jacket. I have another of these patterns with 3 more blouse variations. so quite a good value - you know I like Vogue patterns, especially when they give you lots of looks in one pattern envelope.

Vogue AK

Here's one I found that I haven't sewn, but it was also kept out of the storage box. I think this was a style that I didn't wear and wasn't all that popular when I bought the pattern, but now seems really current. Cute top huh? I will have to try this one.

Vogue 6990 vintage

And now for a giveaway. I found some patterns that were longing for a new home - to get out of the storage box and into the hands of someone who might use them.  So here are two patterns that I will do a drawing for and mail out to you.
The Catch: please tell me your Time Saving Sewing Tip. I'm writing a post for Craftsy so you might see it there, but if you are willing to share some timesaving tip, something that helps you to use your sewing time wisely, or cut down how long it takes to make something then I will be really grateful. Also tell me which pattern you would like to be in the drawing for. You can say both if they both interest you!

Pattern 1: Vogue 9246 corset type top and ballgown skirt. I think I bought this to use to make a formal dress but ended up designing something else - so this one is unused. Note the pattern size is 6-8-10. I love the square neckline on the top.

V 9246

Pattern 2: McCalls top, designed for leather or suede. Size 12. Don't laugh - despite the shoulders this pattern is a wealth of information. I seem to have more than one copy of this pattern so I must have liked it. The other copy was used and I made at least 3 suede t-shirts which I thought were the epitome of casual+luxury. Also I made a suit - all of these items are now languishing in a closet somewhere and candidates for being cut up and refashioned into something else.

McCalls leather top

Lest you scoff at this funny looking pattern  - here is a peek at the instruction sheet. It includes a complete lesson on working with leather. How to determine how much to buy, piecing, machine tips and techniques, seam finishes etc. This is in addition to the regular pattern instruction sheet. Rather clever and using this the info all my stuff turned out really well. Leather is really easy to sew, the tricky part is the cutting layout.

suede top instructions

So that's the pattern scoop. I hope someone is interested in these patterns, as I said they need to get out into the world and be sewn up!
Remember to tell me your timesaving sewing tip, and I look forward to seeing the Sew Photo Hop in September, is it happening? I hope so.

And remember, today's skinny jeans will be the oversized shoulder pad of yesteryear. I guarantee it! Perhaps they already are :)

Happy nostalgic sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, this rose bush was not thriving so I pulled it out. Stuck it in the no man's land which is behind the garden shed. And it kept growing. Thus I took pity on it and planted it in a pot. I guess it just didn't like it's original spot because the blooms are beautiful. Now I just have to find a better permanent home for it.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Look 6374 top in striped silk

This year I have resolved to sew some different shapes and types of garments, with mixed success. I suppose the reason we (at least I) stick to the same things is that is what is comfortable, familiar, or even perceived to be flattering. Previously I have not sewn many woven tops - I do have a number of button front shirts but other than that all my tops are knits. However now that I took the plunge with this great result I predict more variations on this theme in the future.

So the latest foray into silk tops is this. Which I absolutely love. And labored over - due to the unusual fabric. Although it might not appear unusual as a finished top.

green silk top sq2

Here's a look on the dress form. This fabric is a silk, crepe de chine, I guess.  Which I got in the upstairs discount room at Stone Mountain. They have so many treasures to be discovered there, I rarely come home without something I find in that room. Which has even more fabric now as they have discontinued classes - so they have more space for fabric.

green silk stripe front view

What came first, the new pattern or the new fabric?  Actually I bought this fabric maybe 2 months ago? and keep thinking about what to do with it. It definitely presented a challenge because it is actually a border print, or I think you might describe it as an asymmetrical stripe panel print.

Anyway I did remember to take a photo of the fabric before I cut out the top. It was about 42 inches wide with the lighter section separating the black/green stripe sections. I think the yardage they had on the bolt was not cut along the panel so they cut me this portion which gave me some extra of the light portion you see at the top. The main top pattern pieces are there on the table so you can see how I used the stripe and dark/light section.

green stripe fabric

The uninspiring pattern envelope. My opinion, adding those bits of blue lace on the one in the photo takes it straight to frump town although the color is not my fav plus those elbow length rolled up sleeves rarely look good on anyone.  So why did I buy this pattern?  Well after my success with my previous New Look top (another version here) I noticed this one which has a nice small placket with a slight angle to open up the neckline, plus it has the shoulder gathers instead of bust darts, so good for stripes. Also the shirttail hem although basically you can add that to any pattern. I think the collar is a bit on the skimpy side and for a winter version I might add some width to it. OK for a lightweight top but it is really neither here nor there, not a binding and not really a collar. Odd. In fact I just made another version of this top where I opened up the neckline and made a round band which sounds complicated but is not really  - and I will try to show in another post. Because pattern reuse - I am all about that once I get a good one.

NL_6374 pattern evn

So how did I use the various bits of the fabric? First I cut out the body pieces matching the stripes for the front and back. Then I cut out the front shoulder pieces and the back yoke from the light portion of the fabric, also the collar from little scraps remaining, taking care to reserve as much of the light portion for the sleeves. Figuring I could also cut out the placket pieces from the remaining fabric. I thought about making the placket from the mostly black section although I wasn't sure that would look quite right. In any case once I was ready to cut the placket all that remained was the stripe section so DRAT! I had to cut it out very exactly to match the stripe across the placket and front. Which was a little bit of a pain but now I am so satisfied with how it turned out. Woo Hoo! Good thing I had all my recent placket practice, haha.

green silk stripe close up

A little construction view for those of you who like to see the insides. I used the Pro-Sheer Elegance Couture  interfacing for the placket pieces and the collar as well. They (Fashion Sewing Supply) just have the best interfacings and if I could only have one type on some imaginary desert island of sewing I would take all the Pro-Sheer Elegances in every weight and color. Which might be cheating as that is picking more than one but it is my self-imagined desert island of sewing. With unlimited deliveries of snacks from Trader Joe's and wi-fi for my podcast sewing accompaniment.

green stripe placket sewing

More views.

green stripe side view

green stripe silk back view

Sorry about the focus on this one - all the back views are slightly blurry but you get the idea. The back is about 4 inches longer than the front. Like I said, slightly new silhouette for me and in this fabric I think it works well.

green silk top back view on me

Quite breezy when these pics were taken, but you get the idea of how floaty and lovely this fabric feels to wear.

silk top side view on me

So another try at a new shape and I'm quite happy I did. I can see using this pattern for other types of tops, a long sleeve for sure for winter. And maybe even a drawstring waist. I'll have to see what strikes my fabric fancy in the next few months. Until then it is still summer here !!!! I hope. Although you can notice the evenings getting darker just that little bit earlier each week - boo I don't like that.

By the way, a little plug for Stone Mountain Fabrics - I saw they had this fabric in the store again, both in this color and in red/navy. I seriously love that fabric, it is an RPL knit I guess but the weight and colors are exceptional. Also I have bought two color ways of this fabric which is super soft and lovely.

Next up - more striped things. Including a dress that I showed on Instagram with my lukewarm reaction - and judging by the comments it might be better than I thought. Though still not my color! Stay tuned...

Happy late summer Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - I found this on my camera roll from back in April, a yellow iris covered in raindrops. Sometimes these iPhone photos amaze me.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Random Threads # 23

Plenty of scribbles in my notebook so it is time for another Random Threads post. I can't believe August is more than half finished, you know I love summer and put autumn at the bottom of my list of preferred seasons. Chilly weather, falling leaves, days getting shorter. Not my thing at all. And the raptures over fall sewing. I don't get it. Summer fabrics forever! But of course if we were all alike it would be boring and so I will check out your fall sewing and possibly be inspired. But don't count on it.

Onward to my random thoughts.

Circular ruffles - remember this post I did a few weeks ago?  Where I made a dress with a circular/flounce ruffle because I was writing a post for Craftsy. And then promptly removed said ruffle before even wearing it. The other day I was taking my periodic wander through Nordstroms in order to snoop all the designer stuff (be still my beating heart - Armani Collezioni your wools are heavenly, Lanvin and Marni caught my on this day as well). In both the designer departments and the more down to earth dress section I noticed a lot of circular ruffles. Both on hems and as a detail elsewhere. Here's one that I saw. Pretty how the ruffle curves up the side.

orange ruffle dress

Are you watching the Olympics? I love them, every time they come around I am just a sucker for the whole thing. Plus it is such a nice diversion from politics - which we desperately need for a while. Anyway - I was thinking about sports the other day and realized I have never played a team sport despite doing a lot of sports. The closest I came was playing on the tennis team but tennis is not really a team sport in that you are playing individual matches. So tennis, skiing, golf, diving, even sailboarding a bit but no team sports. And yet I love to watch almost any Olympic sport. Well maybe I can skip the table tennis and badminton.  Plus I am fascinated by the women track athletes - they look so beautiful. Do you watch only the sports you are interested in? or could not care less about the Olympics? Even all the various team uniforms and competition apparel - everything is fashion now and quite interesting to me.

Article in the NY Times about McCall's pattern company: here is the link, I am going to guess that a lot of you have read it by now. It was interesting to read although short on business details. I would love to have heard about how many patterns they sell annually, what are their best selling patterns etc. No secret that I am a big fan of Vogue patterns, particularly the designer patterns which have details from high fashion that you can't find elsewhere. These days I am not quite as good a customer as I was previously, having so many patterns in my file means I can usually find something that is pretty much the same as in their new offerings. But a pattern with multiple views and versions is what Vogue et. al do better than anyone. My latest Vogue pattern purchase was this one, V1500 which I thought had possibilities as a dress and also to convert into a top. So only one item here but I can envision it as other items as well.

V1500 pattern envelope

Labels in clothes:  I think I have mentioned this before in a previous random threads. This week I took a bunch of donations to the charity shop and was looking through my cast offs before bagging them up. And realized that any store-bought clothes I have all have the labels and tags removed. I just can't stand to have any tags or labels, they always seem to scratch. So I remove them all - which means there is no size label. And then my handmade stuff, also no size indication. So I asked the woman at the shop what they do and her reply was "We put 'em out and they have to try 'em on". Which made me feel OK about donating to that charity. At least my handmade treasures might make their way to someone who appreciates them. Hope so! But labels - I don't get it. To me that is a good thing about sewing  - I don't have to have some stiff and scratchy label.

Thread colors:  How many colors do you use? A sewing student remarked the other day that I didn't seem to have a lot of thread. Here is a pic of the colors that I keep in the drawer next to my sewing machine. These are the colors that I use for just about everything. I rarely buy thread to match a fabric - other than topstitching it doesn't show so who cares? White as often as possible - then I use navy on black and black when sewing navy. The black/navy thing is to save my eyes - which have been toting super thick glasses since the 4th grade. Thank goodness for contact lenses :) But back to thread. Sure, my sewing color palette is heavy on the blues but I find these threads enough. I do have a rack of other colors, like greens, beige/tan/brown/jeans thread, a few various reds and burgundy colors. Plus a bunch of singular colors like yellow, bright orange or a specific gray. Generally though I get by with these. And the two most useful of the colors are the two at the bottom. Grey is magic - when in doubt try grey. Also the purple one on the bottom right. It looks more violet here than it is in real life where is can become a light blue, pale violet, or even grey depending on fabric. Surprisingly useful.

thread colors

Show me the garment: is anyone else sometimes frustrated when you are reading a blog post, or pattern review, or looking at an instagram pic of an item that someone has sewn and due to their pose you can't really see the details? Or maybe it is just me. The one that bugs me is having all photos with both hands on hips. Sure I do that - I think it is to avoid standing there like a stick figure, it feels natural and looks nice. But with both arms up then the armhole is distorted and I can't see how the pattern really looks. If I'm talking about a pattern I try - not always successfully - to show the pattern and how it fits or what I did to adjust the fit. Even some pattern companies do this - which they think might disguises the problematic areas but I think just exacerbates them (Colette - in my experience helping others their sleeve/armhole design is just weird and likely to be trouble). So fellow stitchers - show me your garment and I will try to do the same. Some are really diligent about showing the garment; front, back, sides plus details. Those of you, I salute you!

Fancy packaging - does it make you like something more? Recently I have read a few posts where someone wrote about an item, I think one was a sewing pattern and the other was something else, where they were in raptures over the fancy packaging and felt that it made the experience better. That fascinates me as I find if something is packaged lavishly it actually annoys me - it seems wasteful and like I am paying for that which adds no value to the actual thing. Packaging is meant to be thrown away so it seems odd to put too much into it. However I have ordered things on Etsy where the seller packaged items in what was obviously reused material and yet it was done with a bit of charm and whimsy. Or received gifts from friends from Japan that were beautifully yet minimally wrapped (they might be the masters of this). Anyway - clinging to my old habits - give me a nice tissue paper sewing pattern in a small white envelope and I am a happy customer.

Stripes! a festival of stripes! Stripe-mania!  Stripe-A-Palooza!  ok that is a tortured way of saying I have just completed 3 striped items in a row and I anticipate more. What is happening?  I almost never sewing anything striped until a few years ago. Odd, I admit. But now I really like them. If you look at my instagram you will see a striped item that I posted which I am growing to like a bit more but was unsure since it is black, or mostly black and I hardly ever wear black.  Because it is boring! OK there I said it, boring. Not fun. Dull. Anyway - this one might be redeemed. Full blog post on this one soon.
And a sneak peek of something that is more in my color wheelhouse. This one is pattern love - also soon to be blogged.

blue stripe tee peek

Confirmation that this dress has become something of a summer uniform (despite my sister saying yesterday "Did you make that dress?" Me "yes" Her "oh" Me "why, what do you think?" Her "it's ok, kind of looks like a housedress" Me "well I like it" ) know how that goes. Love them and the conversation never changes since we were old enough to talk, right?

Denim Burda dress sq

Only 92˚F on the thermometer - cool and balmy for an August day. But not really blue skies - the fires are taking their toll on N. California and I feel so bad for everyone in their path. Take care everyone and stay out of mother nature's way.

Happy Summer Sewing, Beth

today's garden photo - here is a trailing geranium that was in the shade and not really doing anything. I moved it into one of those hanging baskets in the sunshine and wow, so many blooms. I see the hummingbirds in the evening all over this one.

pink trailing geranium

Monday, August 8, 2016

Vogue 1191 Michael Kors knit dress

The sewing resolution for this summer was to stay away from the dresses - but that is a very difficult resolution to keep! Particularly since this pattern has always been calling out to me to sew it up again since its first version, back in 2011. Really? It has been that long?

Of course I still have not sewn it up as pictured on the pattern envelope - with the long sleeves.

green knit front view on me

Earlier this spring at a Bay Area Sewist's meet up I chose this fabric. A few times a year the group does a swap day, either fabrics or patterns and they are a fun way to get rid of stuff you don't want (and probably bring home stuff you don't need) In any case, everything is put out on the tables grouped by fabric type - we stroll around and check out what is there and then there are a few rounds of picking. I spied this green knit print right away and it was 2 full yards so plenty to make a dress. I have picked up some other useful fabrics there as well, and at the very least it is a good way to get some otherwise unloved items that can be used for pattern testing etc. The pattern swaps are fun too, I  have a Vogue Donn Karan pattern that Laura Mae insisted I take as she said "it looks great on everyone" although it is still in my wishful thinking pile.

greenknit front on form

Just in case anyone is ever wondering - that dress form is not my measurements, it is near enough in the bust, but the waist and hips are smaller. I bought it at a garage sale and it is great for everything but exact fitting. Having a custom dress from with length measurements as well as the circumferences would be so nice but I am not about to invest in one now when this one is good enough :) plus it has wheels on the base so quite handy.

Pattern, Pattern, what's the pattern? It is this Vogue Pattern 1191, a Michael Kors design. He has long since stopped doing patterns for Vogue but the ones he did are outstanding. The other one I made is the Vogue 1117, sewn in my first year of blogging. That became my go-to fall/winter party dress for awhile. Do you get to a point where you know all your family/friends have seen a particular item and it is time to move on? This is a small dilemma of sewing, you want to wear the stuff you made and absolutely love - but then there are other newer things that should get worn as well.  Ok not the biggest problem in the world, just an observation.

V1191 ptrn

V1191 tech drawing

This dress has a lot of quirks -sewing wise. Here is the link to my first version of this pattern.

Most obviously I made both my versions sleeveless, as it seems ideal for a summer dress. And I won't say this is not a bit complicated. I laughed at myself a bit, as I must have been going through an analytical phase when I made it the first time, I had noted the number of minutes it took for me to do  step on the instruction sheet. And oh yes, I did look at the instruction sheet, both times. For the record the first version took about 7.5 hours to make, not including staring at the pattern pieces to figure out the origami of it all. This second version was more like 6 hours which for a twisty pleated dress like this I was pretty happy with! But I had worked out all the fit plus the mystery steps in the first version so just sewed without stopping to tear my hair out as happened in the first one :)

green knit fron view on me3
Because yeah, this is a bit confusing and there are a zillion dots, pleats, tiny darts, twists etc to keep track of.  And you know I am a mad tailor tacker so it looks like cat's whiskers or something once I get them all done.

tailor tacks green knit

Also I keep the pattern piece tacked up on my bulletin board while sewing, so I can see which way the stupid little pleats get folded etc.

pattern piece green knit

The result of all that marking, pleating and twisting is this.

green knit dress form closeup

Now a couple of warnings for this pattern. It is very low cut - as many of the Vogue designer dresses are. Fine for the runway I suppose but not for real life - at least not in my comfort zone. Plus I am shorter by 2 inches than the pattern is designed for - so keep that in mind when things don't hit you at the right spot - that is often the culprit. Those "shorten or lengthen here" lines are there for a reason! although not on this pattern. This is one of those "no provision for adjustment" patterns, other than the multi-size that is in the envelope. I made a size 12 on top - moving to the largest size at the hip, and then shortened at the shoulders by about 1/2 inch. But on top of that I sewed the center front seam longer by 1.5 inches which serves to raise up the center V neckline. I saw that adjustment in a review on Pattern Review when I made it the first time and it was really good advice.

Also after you do the twist and have the whole front completed I found it needed some hand stitching on one side to have the fabric cover up the bunch of pleats. Wasn't much but it makes the front much neater and it stays in place and drapes properly. I also raised the armholes by around 3/4" since it is designed for sleeves.

For those of you who like to see the construction: A lot of pins and pleating.

stitching pleats green knit

And the insides: this pattern has a self-lined front - all one piece, and then the back has a lining. For this I used the polyester knit lining fabric as I do in most knit dresses, it is called Jet Set and available at Joanns. In this older Random Threads post there is more info on this fabric.

green knit inside view

The back on this dress is plain, the front/back skirt is all one piece and it seams together down the center back.

green knit back on formgreen knit side on form

The sun was going down as we took these pictures, you can see the garden lights are on behind me. I really like color of this fabric - it lands in my jewel tone color preference. Plus it feels like a nightie, super soft and comfy.

green knit front view on me2

Onward to other things - not dresses! More tops in the works (ok confession I just cut out another dress that I could not resist, stripes! that is the only hint for now)

Whew summer is fading fast, the garden has moved from blooming to crispy and slightly bedraggled. Kind of how we feel when the temps soar over 100˚F for a few days in a row. Which we had about a week ago. No time to think about fall sewing when that happens!

Happy late summer sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, I forget the name of this plant which I bought at the local junior college horticultural department sale about 2 years ago. It was looking kind of wimpy - I planted it in some shade but it has reached out branches into the sunshine and now doing quite well. I like the papery white flowers - the look like lanterns before they open up.

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