Thursday, January 31, 2008

Distractions needed.

Or maybe it's venting. I don't know. But let me tell you, today was probably one of the hardest days I will ever face as a parent. So I need a distraction. Here I go.

Today I was finishing cutting out my jacket lining and interfacing. While I was doing it, I thought of a girl that wants to take sewing lessons from me. Then there's her friend that's interested in sewing too. I talked to her mom, a friend of mine, and were going to set a date soon for some lessons. She took sewing lessons before and was less than enthused. She started off with zeal, but her instructor gave her patterns and fabric from the 1960's to work with. The instructor changed her necklines and pant waist to reflect, um, how shall I say this...prim and proper fashions of yore. Her zest for sewing quickly vanished.

I'd like to resurrect that. However, I need to start near scratch to see what she knows thus far. I was thinking about a pillowcase in some fancy cotton fabric she likes. This way I can make sure she knows how to cut a woven fabric on grain, tacking and finishing seams, has the right sides together thing down pat, etc. From there I thought we'd move to an apron. Maybe for herself or for her mother. I hope to throw in some embroidery with my embroidery machine. It's always fun to embellish. Then remeasure her and move on to some clothing patterns that *she* has picked out. With fabric *she* has chosen.

About a year ago I gave her some Lizzy McGuire patterns that my daughters never used. I encouraged her to look at some Hillary Duff ones and some other teen cutie patterns in the books. Pick out a few and see what styles would be appropriate for a novice sewer. We'll can pick out a style she likes together in a sewing level that is appropriate for her.

It is exciting to think about passing on this passion for sewing to a new generation. The things they will do! They have so much information at their fingertips as well as support for things they do not understand, nor know.

Yes, this is nice to think about. And a nice momentary distraction from incredibly disappointing day.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Absolutely FED UP!

That's right. I sewed up my third pants muslin and am absolutely fed up with it. I'm going to put it in a storage pile destined for the trash some day. The pattern fits great from the hipline up because that was custom made with duct tape for my body. From the hip down it's McCall's Perfect Jean, except it's not perfect on my body. I'm getting very disgusted with the crotch curve, which has been tweaked countless times.

So I've decided to go straight to a Burda jeans pattern 7863, which I think might be better drafted to my body type. It has a nice, shallow somewhat straight front crotch curve with a deeper back crotch curve. It has to be better than what I'm working with. I've never used Burda patterns before, but bought a few last October including the jeans pattern. So, Burda, here I come! I'll just cut some extra wide seam allowances for fit insurance.

Normally I'd just keep plugging away but I'm just so tired of this muslin. There comes a point where one realizes that it's time to move on and I'm there. So adios Perfect Jean. You're not so perfect for me. Movin' on to my first Burda pattern.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hmmm...What to do?

Busy weekend. Even though our usual things to do got cancelled, I still got caught up in doing paperwork and phone calls for softball yesterday and I spent about 5 hours of my time today at tryouts. By the time I get home, boxed macaroni and cheese is all I feel like making and the kitchen is a mess from a busy weekend. Forget the kitchen table! There will be no cutting out today. Still, I wanted to get something done sewing wise so I had a choice to make. Seam rip a side seam on my leather skirt or work on my dusty pants muslin. The pants muslin won out. The front and back darts were sewn, waist and crotch staystitching done, now I have to put them together. So maybe I'll make more progress on this tomorrow.

Interestingly, on TV right now is a show called, (I think), the World's Littlest Person. Think WE have problems with RTW??? This 13-year old girl has a severe form of dwarfism, and they just showed her going clothes shopping. She wanted to get some teen-style clothes but has to shop in a toddler store. She left defeated in a store with snap-crotch clothes and non-hip styles. I know there are nitch stores/mail order companies for talls and petites, but I never really thought about clothing stores for truly little people. It's hard to imagine being a tiny teen and not being able to find any hip and trendy clothes whatsoever. Poor girl!

Anyway, it sure is nice to get at least a little sewing done today.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


Got 5 things going at once.

First two--cutting out the mini dress and jacket. Third is modifying a classic leather skirt I bought in high school. I took off the waistband and am using that piece to add strips down the side seams for a bit of extra width. I can get the skirt on, but the last three inches at the top just don't cut it anymore and I don't want to break the zipper. Four and five are my pants muslin that's been hanging around for months and cutting out DS#1's jeans.

I'm going to hurry up this morning to clean the bathroom, fold the laundry, do the dishes, get some bills out, wash the kitchen floor, take down some more Christmas decorations (which have been up forever) then get some time to work on sewing.

And I'm off to start that list right now...

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Busy work

While I really don't have time to be posting today since I have a lot of paperwork and phone calls to make, I'll take a brief moment to update my sewing activities on my blog while I'm eating my lunch.

I traced and tissue-fitted my jacket pattern and mini dress. They're both ready to be cut out but it's not going to happen today. DS#1 desparately needs new pants so I'm washing his denim today, but it has to be washed three times so I'll guess a lot of laundry will get done in a short period of time. And I'm looking over a jacket pattern for DH. He needs a new jacket.

As usual, so many things, so little time.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Amazing Woman and Our Sewing Insecurities

Sometimes you meet someone who is such an inspiration, it makes you that much more gung-ho about sewing. I met someone like that today, as today was our monthly Lehigh Valley/Pocono Fashion Sewing Guild meeting. Unfortunately, Barb and margenann couldn't make it, but HullabalooBoutique.etsy joined Shura and me for a wonderful sewing/coffee chat. It really is a great way to start a Saturday morning and sets the tone for the weekend in such a positive way. (I won't use their first names unless I know they have already posted them at Patternreview.)

Hullabaloo is that kind of person. She calls herself a beginning sewer who has never used a pattern. In fact, she admits at not be able to interpret much of the pattern information on the guidesheets. Remember that intimidating stage so many of us went through? That's where she is at. And yet--get this...She showed us an absolutely LOVELY toddler dress she made that would require, IMO, intermediate sewing skills. She drafted the pattern herself, probably by mere guessing about the pieces. It had straps, an upper bodice front and back, trim at the top, trim at the bottom which included box pleats. The seams were all trimmed and finished. The back had ribbon loops in which ribbon is looped through and crisscrossed down the back, allowing the wearer to adjust fit. And each section was in a coordinating print with the top being (I think it was) recycled denim from a pair of jeans. Isn't that so impressive?!?!

Hullaballo had a simple toddler dress pattern with her tht she was interested in making, so Shura and I explained to her what some of the markings on the pattern were for like the grainline arrows, notches, and dots. We discussed fabric grainline, layouts, and the definitions at the top of the instruction sheets. But really, it all comes down to this. There were only two pattern pieces (the front and back) which she will likely use. She doesn't need to use the facings if she plans to make it reversible. (What a great idea BTW!) But that simple little pattern, far easier that what she was actually doing with her self-drafted, more difficult dress, was intimidating to her. And we did our best to reassure her that the little piece of pattern instruction paper should not be that way. It's merely suggestions mostly. A suggestion of how to lay out the pattern pieces on the fabric, a suggestion of the order of sewing. Suggestions on how to finish hems and other raw edges. Sprinkling of basic instructions like clipping inner/outer curves, lengthening/shortening the pattern, etc.

She is incredibly lucky with talent, yet unlucky at the same time. To be so talented (note--she describes herself as a beginning sewer with no pattern experience) with fabric coordination, creating a self drafted dress, and using intermediate-level techniques to create a beautiful toddler dress (she has sold 3 already!)--what a lucky woman. But to be intimidated by a pattern when you consider her talent, that is definitely unlucky. On the flipside, however, there is no better time to learn how to sew.

I remember learning at age 12 when there was no one to help me. A class in 8th grade, a year of sewing in high school, an adult ed class when I was a sophomore in high school, with lots of boo-boos in between making every mistake a sewer can make. I remember those days of being intimidated by the pattern sheets only too well. The difference back then was there was no one to encourage me. No one to guide me. And now we have the Internet where we can discuss our problems and get resolutions to them right away. Learning how to sew has never been easier. Via Patternreview, our little group gets together once/month. Patternreview has the yearly shopping trip in NYC for Patternreview weekend. We visit the site (well, in my case) daily for ways to improve our sewing and fitting.

Getting back to Hullabaloo's situation, she is a reminder that we have to remember not to second guess our skills. We're smarter than we think. It's a shame when pattern instructions make us feel stupid, and every once in a while there are some that still do. At that point, we have to put the sheet aside and do what we think is right. Not second guess ourselves via pattern intimidation. We all do good work with a couple of stinkers every once in a while. That's okay. It's the way sewing is supposed to be. She is an amazingly creative sewer with amazing talent. And I do hope she shows everyone at Patternreview the beautiful dress she has made. With *NO* pattern. *NO* instructions. Just, what I call, gut-instinct sewing and raw talent. It doesn't get any better than that.

She is truly an inspiration to all garment sewers/sewists. Hats off to her!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Future Projects

First off, thank you, fellow bloggers in letting me know I am not alone regarding my previous post :) ! It's nice to know I'm in GOOD company.

Future projects...I've been contemplating them. So on this chilly, wintry-white morning with children sleeping in because of their 2-hour delay, I'll post what they are going to be.

First off, a jacket/coat. Here's the pattern and fabric w/ buttons which was purchased this past November during PR Weekend 2007. The fabric was from my fave NYC store, Paron's. Those wools--I salivate just thinking about them!!!

It's going to be view C because I have to use those buttons which were purchased just for this particular wool.

I'm embarrassed to post the next one because it kind of looks, well, dowdy is the first word that comes to mind. But I have changes in store for it! It's Simplicity 4183, a Patty Reed Design. The way it's shown on the pattern cover would make me look 20 lbs heavier if I wore it that way. That's not the plan. There was a pic in Lucky with a woman wearing a light blue, loose-fitting/slouchy style minidress. That's what I'm going to make this in to, with short sleeves so I can wear a black turtleneck underneath, opaque black tights, and my black ankle boots. A top/dress like this would easily overwhelm me, so no long sleeves and it has to be a mini. Lean arms and lean legs will balance the fullness of the dress. I think :) . The fabric I'm using for it is a blue, faux suede from purchased eons ago. It doesn't look like the shade in the pic because I didn't take this particular picture under my Ott-lite.

That's all for now. Presently I'm tracing the jacket pattern, maybe I'll finish tracing it tomorrow. The jacket is supposed to be unlined, but I'll be using the SNF technique taught in Shannon Gifford's class over at Patternreview.

Off to bed...Happy sewing dreams, everyone!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Couture sewing...or not?

As I look over some great sewing blogs and beautiful sewing reviews, techniques of couture sewing are often mentioned. The sewing is both impeccable and beautiful, however, I wonder if I'm an anomaly in not being exactly gung-ho about couture sewing techniques.

For example, I have the book, "Easy, Easier, Easiest Tailoring". It's a great, little, handy dandy book that takes a sewer from the traditional, yet time consuming, methods to the easiest and quickest way to achieve "tailored" results. While I greatly admire the traditional techniques and want my garments to have that RTW look, they have to be *fast*.

For example, on the Vogue OOP dress I just made, I was thinking about doing a handpicked zipper with seed beads. That really would have looked beautiful IMO, but then I couldn't find the right color seed beads. And I'm a sucker for a perfectly topstitched centered zipper. So the centered zipper won out. And my perfectly straight stitching lines are admired as much as any handpicked zipper with seed beads would be with a lot less work and fuss. (Okay, maybe not as much if there had been seed beads ;) .)

There is a Vogue retro jacket pattern in my stash right now. The wool and lining was purchased during PR Weekend 2006. I can't wait to make it up, but there are a lot of couture techniques in the instructions used like padstitching and such. Truthfully, I can't be bothered. I'll look at my tailoring book and find the quickest method to achieve the same results.

I guess my feelings on this are mostly because of time. I don't have a lot of time to sew because my kids are always here, there, and everywhere. If I'm going to make something, I need to get it done as quickly as possible or it may never get done. Spending two months on one outfit doesn't excite me. And that's exactly how long it would take with my schedule if I used couture sewing techniques.

Another thing is, is that I have never been that picky on how my garments look on the inside. Areas like the hems, sleeve hems, dress side seams--anything that can be potentially seen from the outside, well, yes I'm concerned about those. But any other area can be finished in the quickest, easiest method possible. I've been known to finish the lower 8-12" of a garment in a professional method, but forget it above that point. No one's going to see it but me. For example, from the slit of a dress down would be finished nicely, but the area above that is my easiest and quickest method of choice.

For me, couture sewing is not a viable option most of the time. But I do think it's interesting how there seems to be a resurgence. For years we've always been looking for something easier and quicker, only to go back to methods of the past. But for me, it's couture...not ;) . Most of the time anyway.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Dress is Done

I've decided not to put any more work into my red dress. It's just not my favorite pattern anymore. I don't mind the broad upper body look of the late 80's, but I don't think the neckline is that flattering on me anymore. Butterick 6582 shown below was my first choice (and I do plan on making that one with royal blue silk dupioni!) but it was too summery for this time of year. However, the redeeming quality of my dress is that is goes very nicely with my houndstooth jacket.

Here's the finished, but not-my-fave-anymore dress.

I have the reviewed the dress on and am moving on. Today I'm finishing up my purse from Kennenth King's class, planning another winter jacket, and am working on a winter mini dress. I'll try to post my project pics in the next few days.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A Sneak Preview

A Sneak Preview....

Here's my version of the S4047 Retro 1950's swing jacket that I finished yesterday, and...

and here's the pattern photo...

I think it turned out very much like the pattern photo :) .

This is the outfit I'm wearing to church tomorrow. The red dress is a Vogue OOP circa 1990 or thereabouts. I don't know if the dress is finished. I was thinking about embellishing the waist inset, but am not sure at this point. When I first made the dress, I was 25. Now that I'm 41, I prefer a lower neckline instead of the jewel neck. So, my question is, do I want to put more into this dress? It is fine the way it is and not embellishing will give me time to start on another jacket/coat and dress.

A couple of things I love about this swing jacket:

1. The swing-ey back. If you examine the pattern illustration on the front left side of the pattern envelope, you can see that it is full in the back. Mine is too:

It can be casual, dressy, or contemporary. Here are some different views of the way I'll wear it:

3. It's roomy and comfy.

4. Very easy sewing IMO. However, the one thing that would bug up a beginner or advanced beginner is the notching on the collar. It's the kind of thing where a sewer has to stitch 5/8" on either side of a point and clip to the point of stitching. Then attach that piece to another. It requires precise sewing and I even had to restitch both sides a second time because I didn't like my first line of stitching. It's been a long time since I've worked on a project requiring precision.

5. It's lined. My lining feels "luxurious". Like a real RTW lining. It looks *special* on the inside :) .

Tomorrow I will work on a full pattern review for this jacket. There is much more info to add so stay tuned...

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Jacket is Done!

My black&white herringbone jacket from Simplicity 4047 is done! I think it looks very much like the picture on the pattern cover. I'll be doing a review of it very soon. Only a couple of boo-boo's along the way, but I think it has achieved, IMO, the "Illusion of Perfection". That's a quote from Kenneth King and those are very wise words. A few minutes ago I had it on and walked into my bedroom to check it out in the mirror. DH says, "You look like Jackie Kennedy. That's what she would wear." So, yes, I did achieve the look I wanted with this retro pattern. As in clothing style, 'cuz I don't look anything like Jackie Kennedy LOL.
Tomorrow or Sunday I hope to get some pictures of the finished garment and do a pattern review.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Progress is my Middle Name

;) . Couldn't resist...that post title is for my DH--(inside joke).

But it's the truth. Yesterday I made real progress on my jacket as you can see from the pic. Today I will attach the facings and get started on the lining. The only part that bugs me out is the cutting out and block fusing. I've said it before about how much I loathe block fusing, but cutting is also my bugaboo. I've been SO spoiled by making summer tees, tanks, and simple winter tops that cutting out anything with more than four pieces makes me push it off because of the time element. And space, definitely. It means I have to cut at the kitchen table, and therefore, it must be clean. So any cutting has to be done when the kids are in school lest I risk getting food spots on my fabric.

But once those time consuming things are done, everything just goes so smoothly and quickly. I did sew one jacket seam and decided to seam rip and hand baste all my seams before machine stitching them. It let me get more control at making sure everything was matching up the way it should be. I can't wait to work with the lining. It is probably a b**ch to sew, but it feels and looks luxurious.

I can't wait until it's finished! This jacket is needed pronto because my black wool pea coat must be dry cleaned. And the buttons...Ohhh! The buttons on my RTW pea coat were becoming loose and one fell off. So I get this brainiac idea to sew the one back on *AND* all the rest much more securely. I was at the batting cages when I did it and talking to one of my friends and sewed right through my pockets on four of them--two on each side! So now at least four of them must come off and resewn back on more carefully.

You'd think I could talk and sew at the same time, but no. It just doesn't happen, at least for me LOL! A blonde moment for sure.

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Scissors are Smokin' !

My jacket is all cut out! Lining included :) . I'm going to transfer some markings tonight but am SO excited that I can actually start sewing it very soon.

No progress on the handbag today, but I searched for a flower/foliage book that Kenneth King recommended for embellishing my handbag. Also, I need to get some thread that matches the Dior roses. When I get the chance, I'm planning on doing a rolled edge with decorative threads on each side of the straps. "Planning" is the operative word. That might change--lots of embellishing/sewing thoughts going through my head right now.

And, of course, no progress on the waist inset on my dress.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


As in Work-In-Progress. Here is my handbag from Kenneth King's Soft Handbag Construction class thus far. Today I made 3 Dior roses, completed the straps, and inserted/pinned the lining. The roses, straps, and lining are still not permanently attached. I'm awaiting for some advice from Kenneth right now before proceeding further. I need to get some skinny, pale green ribbon to hang from the roses. Also, will hot-fix some light green crystals to the bag as well. Give me a week and it will probably be finished. Nothing is ever fast for me.

Now I need to make a matching top or dress. Shouldn't it be the other way around? :)

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Soft Handbag Construction

One of the things I love about are the wonderful classes offered by excellent instructors. My current class, Soft Handbag Construction, is no exception! Kenneth King is another great instructor with very clear, concise, and easy to understand lessons. I'm about 3/4's done with the soft handbag I'm making in his class and can't wait to use it. It's more of an evening bag design, I think, for lightweight use, but really cute and well constructed.

Right now I'm thinking of embellishments as I finish up the bag part. The lining is already prepared for insertion. Might have to get out those decorative threads to do some serging tomorrow for embellishment purposes.

The only drawback to taking classes is my time away from current projects. I have yet to embellish the waist inset on my dress and get going on my jacket. I'm going to take the rigid handbag construction class as well, so that pretty much covers the month of January. So when I get the time, all things will finally get done.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Say what?

Yeah, I did it. I made a "mini" quilt. Technically it's a wall hanging though. One has to understand--I'm NOT a quilter. I have no interest in quilting whatsoever. But I wanted to make something for a friend to remind her what a terrific person she is. So when I saw a project called something like a "Quick and Easy Mini Quilt" in my Embroidery Essentials book, initially it didn't jump out at me at all. However, just giving Dunkin Donut cards seemed so impersonal, so I wanted to create something for her and kept thinking about this project. It has to be a special person for me to *want* to make something like this.

The picture has been enhanced to better highlight the intensity of the blues and purples, but the leaves look yellow when, in fact, they are a light green. I'm not the best at coordinating colors, but the lady at the fabric store put her "seal of approval" on the color combos for this project. The binding is not a perfect match, but it still works IMO.
Overall, I like how it turned out. There is no thinking required on a project like this, it just takes time. I started it last night and finished this afternoon.
Tomorrow the kids are going to school, DH goes back to work, and I have to get the house a bit more tidy. Kenneth King is offering his Soft Handbag class at Patternreview and I registered for that too. There are just a few things that are needed for it so a trip to the fabric/craft store is necessary tomorrow. Still mulling over embroidery for my dress too. That will give me something to think about while working on my jacket.
Hope everyone is having good luck keeping their New Year's Resolutions on this second day of January :) !

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

I hope it's a healthy and prosperous year for all my on-line friends!

I had a very relaxing and lazy New Year's Day today. Woke up at 8:30, had breakfast, made coffee for DH, surfed the web for a little while, showered/dressed and went to the gym with DD#1 and DD#2.

After that, we ran a couple of errands and picked up two DVD's. The kids and DH don't have to go back to school/work until Thursday. It will be body shock for them Thursday morning when they have to wake up 4 or 5 hours earlier than what they've become accustomed to the past week and a half. Two weeks for DH because he took a long vacation. The grumbling has begun about going back to work and I don't blame him one bit.

When I got home, I made homemade fried chicken, DD#2 made the homemade mozzarella sticks, and we finished up with a tortellini salad. Quite fatty, and I felt like a slug after eating it. Sure glad we only eat this way on special occasions too. Cleaning the deep fryer is a pain in the a$$ too. It's probably *the* no. 1 reason we don't eat too many fried foods LOL. Dessert was our leftover apricot brownies and church window candy from yesterday.

Tonight I hope to think embroidery thoughts. I have to make a belated Christmas present for a friend of mine that has had a tough personal life the past 18 mos. She's going through a divorce and the soon-to-be DH is not making things easy for her. And that's putting it mildly. He's been dragging it out as long as he can. I'm making her a wall hanging with her name on it and three things that will remind her what a wonderful person she is. She's a loving, devoted mother to a beautiful 4-year old son, a good and loyal friend, and a positive role model for her students. She's a pitching coach for my daughter and 11 other girls throughout the year. She is probably one of the strongest people I know, but certainly has had several low moments the past year and a half, but she always keeps going. I'm continually amazed at her firm resolve, positive attitude, and her dedication to help others despite what she has been through. So I just want to make something for her that she can see every day to remind her of what a wonderful person she is. I have to look through my embroidery designs to see if I can find some special designs for her wall hanging. It's kind of like a mini quilt.

Also, I've been looking at my dress and think maybe some embroidery on the front inset would be nice. (My dress is pictured in my 12/31 post.) It looks so plain, and I think some embroidery would make it more of a special, one-of-a-kind dress. It would have to be a v-shape design, and I'd like to keep it all red on the black fabric. Ideas, anyone? If you have ideas for a design, please let me know. I usually buy my designs from Embroidery Library but am still somewhat new to embroidery. I'm learning as I go, but there's only so much time to spend on it during the week. I did put covered, black buttons at the side of the sleeves below the tuck. This seemed to add to the "something" that was needed.

Well, I've sat here enough at my computer. It's time to do some dishes and get thinking embroidery!