Saturday, February 06, 2016

Fabric Everywhere...

I'm cutting out another topper in a tweedy fabric pulled from the collection...but I am a little blaise about sewing today.  When cleaning off the sewing table, I found the new crochet pattern books I purchased a couple of weeks ago. Which made think maybe I should work on one of the projects in them instead.

A while back I put all of the skeins of yarn I own in a bin that's currently residing behind my cutting/sewing table. When I pulled it out today to go through it, because I want to crochet a cardigan, I found fabric stacked neatly at the bottom.  

This fabric ~  
A silk with embroidered roses, blue/white gingham in shetland wool
beige corduroy with a toile print and yellow/white shetland wool

...all I could think of was really? Really more fabric!?! My shelves are overflowing...I have stacks of fabric everywhere...

Both of these piles are around the cutting table

This one is by the front door as you enter the Sewing Cave,
though I did remove the top pile after taking this picture

When I find more fabric stashed in places I didn't realize, I'm amazed at just how unhappy I was in my last job. See I bought fabric ~ yards and yards of it ~ almost weekly at my old job. It did bring temporary joy and unlimited daydreams that I used as a way to deal with the fact that I HATED that dayum job...but now I'm dealing with the overflow. Especially since I'm not sewing nearly as much as I did before. Hey I used to pound out a dress a weekend, now sometimes I don't sew for weeks!

I really don't want to store more fabric in the garage because y'know, out of sight out of mind, but I'm running out of creative ways to store it in the cave. It's one of the reasons why I'm not fabric shopping. Guess I need to shake myself and work on that topper today because I need to move fabric out of the cave a lot faster! 

Why did this come up today?  Because Fabric Mart is having a 60% off sale on pontes. I love ponte fabric. I own a lot of it with 90% of it purchased from Fabric Mart. I'm usually good about ignoring solid colored pontes but right now there are three pretty amazing printed pontes on the site at only $4 a yard! Let's not forget this amazing faux persian lamb... 

So if you need a fabric fix, why don't you surf on over and buy up the reminding yardage. It would help me out because even though I'm overwhelmed, I'm tempted!  *LOL* always more later!

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


Gotcha! Y'all thought I was talking about the political circus that's happening in the US right now didntcha?!  Nope not going there...not yet anyway! *LOL*

Nope, I'm referring to the fact that I want you to vote in Madalynne's Best of Sewing Blogs for 2016!  Here's the link to here blog post and Madalynne has made it easier to vote this year.  All you have to do is go to this online site!

I did should too! So, go vote! always more later!

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sunday Miscellany

It's Sunday and while I've been thinking of sewing I haven't been doing much and still haven't taken pictures of the Carolyn Top so instead I'm sharing a few thoughts...

  • Today is the last day of January and in 25 days I will be in Seattle for the weekend! Yes!!!! This time I plan to spend some time sewing with Gaylen and fabric shopping in Seattle.
  • In 11 days, TGIT comes back on and I can finally find out what happened to Annelise on HTGWM, what's going on with Olivia Pope and the Gladiators, but most importantly who the h*ll messed with Meredith on Gray's Anatomy - yes these are my personal friends and I don't care if you believe it or not.
  • I used the last of my VISA gift card for a fabric purchase of ITY knits from Fabric Mart. I posted this picture to Instagram of the new fabrics ~
  • Oh and I bought a couple of patterns too!
  • So no more fabric purchases until I get to Puyallup and the Marcy Tilton booth where I can touch pieces for myself. 
  • I've decided to make another topper like the last one but with the adjustments I suggested using this fabric ~
  • Toppers allow me to wear a "visible" me-made with RTW which helps me feel a little more like myself! Because it's gonna take years to get back to 90% of my wardrobe being me-made again.
  • It was so cold last week that I was swathed in cashmere to keep warm, so glad the temperatures will be more moderate this week! Will be able to wear more me-made.
  • The grandbabies were here most of the weekend so another reason no sewing was going on.

Hopefully when it calms down this weekend, I will get back into the sewing cave.  There are a couple of things that I want to make before I head to Seattle, so I need some sewing time.  Thank goodness for President's Day weekend!

Did you get to sew this weekend? I hope so! always more later!

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Evolution of a Pattern

I was thinking about my journey with Vogue 1247 ~ how the skirt became a dress and then a topper...and I thought all of the info should be in one that's what follows. BTW, if you don't want to see the pattern evolution skip to the bottom, the finished topper is there!

The First Vogue 1247 Skirt ~
My first version of Vogue 1247 was made shortly after the pattern came out. I loved the skirt but hated how short it was.  Then another blogger, Adonishing Dressing for Dinner, just lengthened the skirt and made an amazing version so I had to have one. I made my first version of this skirt in May 2011:

To get my first skirt ~
  • I used my TNT skirt pattern and widened the pattern pieces to fit my body which was about a size 26/28 then.
  • Then I lengthened the skirt front and back bottoms to make the skirt just a little longer than knee length.
  • The bias binding was omitted and I lined my version.
  • It has a skinny waistband with an invisible zipper and button/buttonhole closure. 
* * * * *

Next was "The Rachel Dress" ~
That first version of the skirt inspired the dress which I called "The Rachel Dress." I was inspired by a PYT that I saw when standing in line at Chipolte (at the time I worked around the corner from Oprah's Magazine and Hearst Publications) who was wearing a shift dress with those inset pockets. 

Of course I thought of using the skirt and my TNT dress pattern to get my own version. This dress was made in July 2011.

I made dress pattern pieces to get a garment with the working invisible pockets. The pattern alteration post is here. However, I have to share the making of this pattern piece in-process because it's kinda cool...

  • This dress was made from linen.
  • Buttons and buttonholes were added to the pocket inset.
  • Black piping was added to the neckline and armholes.
  • The dress is lined in blue rayon bemberg.
  • Lace was added to the lining hem ~ which was my signature technique added to lining hems.
* * * * * 

The Rachel Dress Number Two ~
I loved wearing the original dress so much so that I made a winter version in March 2012.

For this version I emphasized the pockets with black gimp trim and used an amazing piece of herringbone fabric that was appliqued with lace pieces. That black gimp was hand stitched to the dress front, a look inspired by pieces from Chanel's Couture Spring 2012 line. All construction details can be found here. This fabric presented some challenges because care needed to be taken with it to get a finished dress.

I put the pattern away after this because there were so many other versions of dresses to make using my TNT pattern, inspiration pieces and/or new dress patterns.

* * * * *

A Topper from The Rachel Dress ~
A weight loss, a job and lifestyle change (hey it snowed buckets last Saturday but I worked from home on Monday cause that's one of the perks of the new job. No trudging out in the snow for me!) inspired me to make a new Vogue 1247 skirt in denim late last year.

I believe that working with the pattern again, loving those invisible pockets and finally realizing that I can be as creative as I want with my wardrobe, led to this new topper.

Inspiration ~
My last post details what inspired me and how I came to make this topper. The one thing I didn't discuss was why a topper? I've bought enough bottoms (leggings/slim pants) to wear to work for two weeks and I have loads of tops/sweaters/tanks still in the collection to wear with them. So figuring out what inspires me to want to sew has come down to toppers, shirts and skirts this winter. But you know me, I can't just sew a pattern...I need to do something to it to make it unique and distinctly me.

I've resigned myself to the fact that I will wear mostly RTW every day because I need time to make new garments. This means the me-made pieces I do sew, I want to be distinctive.  Toppers or jackets fill that need.

The Supply List ~
2 yards of a Printed Brocade from Fabric Mart
3/4 yard of black ponte from Metro Textiles
Gray Rayon Bemberg Lining

Pattern Alterations ~
I used the pattern pieces from The Rachel Dress because the pattern had what I needed to make the garment I was seeing in my mind. However, I did make all new pieces for several reasons.

~ One because I needed to shorten the pattern pieces from dress length to tunic length. 
~ Two I needed to make facings for the front and back pieces which I ended up not using.
~ Three I was pulling pattern pieces from other envelopes - pocket from the Rachel Comey pattern and the sleeve from my TNT tunic pattern - so I decided to trace new pieces to stay with this grouping because after wearing the topper, I want to make more.
~ Pattern pieces were made for the jacket front top, the jacket front bottom and two back pieces, a new pocket piece and a sleeve. 

Actual Pattern Alterations were:
1. The dress top front had you place the pattern on the fold. Instead I made it two separate front pieces then added 1 5/8 inches to the center front of each piece. 
2. The same 1 5/8 inches was added to the bottom front piece. 
3. The back piece had a center back seam but instead of being separate top and bottom pieces, I just lengthened the top piece to the same length as the combined front pieces. 
4. No change was made to the sleeves.

Construction Details ~
Even after making those pockets in 2 dresses and 2 skirts, I still need the pattern instructions to sew them together...sad I know! *LOL* There were no real construction challenges once I figured out those was a pretty straightforward sew.

I did add a lining. I used a gray bemberg because I only have enough black in stock to line a skirt. The lining was made by cutting out the front and backs after they were sewn together in the fashion fabric. I wanted a solid lining without a lot of seams.  The jacket is lined to the edge and is free hanging, tacked at the hem seams so it doesn't fly away.

The sleeves are made from a black ponte to give the topper a sweatery, casual like feel since I used such a formal fabric. No button/closure was on the inspiration piece so I didn't add one to mine. When I wore it to work, I used one of the many pins I own, trying to re-purpose the jewelry collection y'know.

The pictures were taken at work by one of my colleagues using my iPad. I sit next to her and we talk all day long. She's one of the reasons I like the new job so much! She was really getting into it, kneeling down and shooting up, trying for angles...I was a little blown away that she accomplished so much in five short minutes!

A few more Pictures ~

This was so comfortable to wear! I felt dressed but not overly dressed. The ponte sleeves were comfortable and allowed me to push them up or wear them down. I even garnered a few compliments!

I definitely want to make this again but with these improvements:
*Raise the neckline - make it more jacket, less dress.
*Widen the shoulder seams - again more jacket, less dress.
*Lower the under arm seam - I cheated with this one by using the serger to achieve a lower underarm.
*Trying to decide if I want to remove some of the a-lineness of the topper bottom.

I do want to try it as a vest. Can you imagine that a pattern that started life as a skirt...has become a a topper and quite possibly a vest too. Sometimes it helps to think outside the box! always more later!

Monday, January 25, 2016

A Rachel Coat - Part 1 - The Inspiration

I had bronchitis a couple of weeks ago so I spent some quality time in bed watching movies, all the tv shows and movies I'd DVR'd, and surfing the web on my iPad. 

This site, StyleWe, kept popping up as a banner ad everywhere I went which was unusual since I'd never visited their website. However, one of the ads had this coat which caught my eye.

So since I had nothing else to do, I surfed on over and checked out the coat. That's when my imagination went into overdrive. I love those inset pockets! And it reminded me of the Rachel Dress that I've made a couple of times, nevermind the Rachel Skirt which started it all. Then I realized my Rachel Dress pattern was perfectly adaptable as a jacket/topper.

Mentally I started to rumble through my fabric collection and came up with a wool flannel print that I'd bought from Emmaonesock last year. 

When I finally felt well enough to go down to the Sewing Cave, I discovered a brocade fabric that came from Fabric Mart that I liked a lot better.

See I envision my version of this coat as a topper to wear over jeans or leggings with soft ponte sleeves. You know elevating that everyday work look to the Chicos Chic wardrobe I'm attempting to create.

Originally I was going to have just one post, detailing the inspiration idea, how I altered my pattern pieces to make them work, and pictures of me in the final garment.  However, on Instagram I got asked WIDRN - it's a hashtag going around that lets you see what other sewists/knitters/crocheters are working on. So I posted this picture ~

I didn't just want to post the jacket front without a reference to the coat because who would understand that?! However what I did post started a conversation about what pattern was used? Where could someone purchase the pattern? And I realized that maybe I needed to talk about what inspires me to sew/create something.

What drew me to the garment first and foremost was ~ the pockets. Then the simplicity of the design. I never meant to duplicate the coat. I wanted the elements of the coat to be used in a topper. That's why my Rachel Dress was the jump off point for me. It had the elements that I wanted with the clean design. I could see the alterations I needed to do, to make the pattern work for me.

Finally my version detoured from the original because I used ponte fabric for sweater like sleeves. This is a look that's been circling around my brain for a minute. It works for me because this garment fits my lifestyle now...but most importantly because I NEVER intended to duplicate the original garment.

Here's where the topper stands now ~

When it's finished and I have photos of me wearing it, I will post pattern alterations and construction techniques because I did have to figure out a few things. Things that a picture couldn't tell me...things that I had to decide for myself to get the garment I imagined.

So this is what was on my cutting table and in my sewing machine this weekend. BTW, after moving the 8900 around and then cleaning it out, in all the hidden places besides my regular places, my machine is sewing again. I think it just wanted a rest! *LOL* However, before I head out to Seattle next month, I will take it in for servicing...cause it just can't hurt! always more later! 

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Sewing and Technology in 2016

Back in January 2009, I wrote a blog post about technology and sewing. It was a discussion about how technology is changing the way we as sewists communicate with each other. Now seven years later there are even more changes.

I mean you can read a post on your phone, your iPad or tablet or your computer. You can see a picture with some discussion on Instagram. Pinterest will allow you to pin a picture, search a topic, or just see what's going on with the pattern companies. Then there are the sewing boards - PatternReview and Stitchers Guild. Let's not forget Twitter (though I think it's starting to fade in the sewing world) and the newbies on the block SnapChat and Periscope.

Now while I'm an active user of Instagram and Pinterest, I also finally set up a Twitter account but to be honest I only set it up to follow the conversations of the Empire and Scandal casts! I don't have a SnapChat account but that's because my daughters threatened to take my phone from me if I did! hahahahahaha! And even though I'm intrigued by Periscope, have yet to set up an account.

Hey I can lose hours on YouTube ~ do I really need another time suck that will eat up precious sewing time? So my Question of the Day (yes, I'm going back to Q&A Days in 2016) is how many social media platforms do you participate in and why?  If you use these forms of social media, how does it affect your sewing time? Are these new platforms necessary to learn techniques and improve your sewing or communicate with your fellow sewists? From all of the examples above, which forms of social media do you think are necessary to keep current in today's sewing world?

That's the "Question of the Day" so talk back to me!?! always more later!

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

My Blog Appearance & A Winner

I woke up on Monday and my blog background and text were all effed up. Best I can figure is that blogger discontinued the blog template that I've used for the last couple of years. But just to make sure, I slid over to Amanda and Tany's blog, which also used the same template and realized that theirs were different too.

So Monday morning I messed around with the blog template and design. What you're reading is what I've settled on but I'm not sure I will keep it. It looks okay on my iPad, my iPhone and my computer but I want to look at it at night on the bus going home in the dark. I may yet change the template again. 

Comments? Can you read it on your devices? Is it hard to see? 

* * * * *

I'm sure quite a few of you have been checking the blog to see the winner of the Claire Shaeffer book.  

The winner is:

If you leave your email address in the comments section, I will send you a note.

* * * * * 

Last weekend was a three day weekend in the US and normally I spend as much quality time with my sewing machine as possible...maybe it's because my 8900 is sitting waiting to go to the shop...maybe it's because it's so dayum cold here that all I can think of is swathing myself in my cashmere sweaters...or maybe it's because after cleaning and rearranging my room I realize I have so many tops that I've just lost my desire to sew...

Now let's note that I've lost my desire to sew but NOT my desire to create! So I pulled out my crochet hooks and started on this baby blanket for someone I work with...her baby is just a month old so this will still be good for the rest of the winter.

Of course that set off a desire to crochet something other than a baby I'm checking through my crochet books and mags to see if I want to spend more quality time with my hooks and yarn.

BTW, I still have to share the Carolyn Top with you. I finally took the top over to have buttonholes put on it this week, so I will probably have pictures up this weekend...well that depends on the weather.  It's been so dreary here lately! always more later!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday

Today we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's Birthday in the United States. In years past, I've posted quotes, videos and told stories of how much this day means to me.

This year I'm posting a list of the black men, women and children murdered by the police and others in America in recent years. 

I'd like to take a moment of silence for these Black Lives that were lost ~

Travyon Martin

Michael Brown

Walter Scott

Eric Garner

Tamar Rice

Sandra Bland

LaQuan McDonald

Bettie Jones

Quintonio LeGrier

Finally, the parishioners of Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC who were gunned down by a racist 21 year old ~
  • Sr. Pastor & State Senator Clementa C. Pickney
  • Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd
  • Susie Jackson
  • Ethel Lee Lance
  • Depayne Middleton-Doctor
  • Tywanza Sanders
  • Daniel Simmons
  • Sharonda Coleman-Singleton
  • Myra Thompson

Somehow, I think the man who penned the "I Have A Dream" speech would be heavy-hearted at the state of race relations in America. 

We have so far to go...

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Vogue 8090 in Denim

After finishing up the denim V1247 skirt, I decided that I'd use the rest of the denim for this topper. However, since everything has changed and I no longer have tried 'n true patterns to use as "slopers" for new patterns, I'm starting from scratch with each new pattern I sew.

Therefore, I research each new pattern before I use it. I must note here that this pattern is out-of-print (OOP) but still probably in a lot of your stashes. My first stop on the research train is PatternReview. I love the pattern review database and want to thank everyone who contributes to it. 

There are only 7 reviews of this pattern with most of them being made in 2011 when the pattern was released. Although someone did make one during the summer of 2015. While I'm thankful for those reviews there wasn't enough information and inspiration there, so my next stop was Google.

Why do I google patterns? One because I can see images of finished garments and reviews of them that aren't always on PatternReview. And in my googling I found reviews by Mrs. Mole and I thought thank God, real helpful information by a sewing pro. She made this topper for a client and provides some insight into fit that I used to make my own version.

So first a picture of the finished topper ~

One of the last outdoors photos for the season because it's chilly and the 
sun sets way too early. This picture was taken at 3pm.

The Supplies ~
Medium weight denim from Fabric Mart (the same used in the V1247 skirt)
4 - 1" gold buttons from the collection 
(honestly I've had these so long I don't even know where they came from!)

Pattern Alterations and Construction Details ~
I made no alterations to the pattern because when I double checked the finished measurements, I fit solidly into a size 22. But just to make sure, I tissue fit the topper and the only thing I thought was maybe I would need to sew the side seams a little deeper and this proved to be true.

Other than that my major change was to topstitch the seams in the same color thread. I went back and forth over that because my original thought was to topstitch in a gold thread but in the end decided it was too much. I want this to be able to be thrown over everything so it needs to be as neutral as possible. Also because I used a medium weight denim, I omitted the interfacing the pattern suggests you use. If it was a thinner, flimsier fabric, I would definitely have interfaced the facing pieces but my fabric was firm and didn't need it.

This is an easy sew like the pattern envelope says. I had two challenges with this sew - one, getting the sleeves inserted. I had to fiddle with them and I'm not sure it was the way I inserted them or if the fabric used was too bulky. There was a lot of steam, some careful clipping and a lot of clapper action to get them to lay flat and work. But they do work!  

My second challenge was the facings. Gawd, I just couldn't get those irregular shapes to go together well. I took them apart 3x before I finally got them in correctly. I also added a few slip stitches between the facing buttonhole and the jacket buttonhole so that they wouldn't slip or work against each other when using the jacket.

Finally a caution, I think that this pattern works for me because I'm fluffy. I think a slimmer person might be challenged by the extra fabric/ease in this pattern. Like Mrs. Mole said, you should definitely make a muslin to make sure that you get the best fit. However, for me it provides a stylish cover up for the extra fluff.

Okay a few more pictures ~

I added a gold button to the back and on each sleeve hem
because I liked how it looked.

Up next is a top from The Carolyn Pajamas by Closet Case Files. When Heather first issued this pattern, I never saw pajamas. I always saw a cool top and I'm making my version from velvet. always more later!

Thursday, January 14, 2016

New Tenants in the Fabric Collection

Now I know I said that I won't be adding much to the fabric shelves this year, and that I'd primarily be sewing from the collection, but a few new tenants have come to reside there. As my last couple of makes have shown and some future ones that will appear here soon, I AM sewing from the collection. However, most of my Christmas presents were gift cards which in my mind means free fabric, notions, sewing tools or books. So I bought some fabric and here it is... 

First I entered another free fabric giveaway ~ 

This time it was a Marcy Tilton giveaway for $100 of the fabric of your choice. Hey, I love quality fabric and Marcy has some amazing pieces of fabric. You should definitely stop by her site and spend some quality time drooling over the amazing pieces she has curated there. 

Here is what I picked for my winning piece...

It was chosen to go with Vogue 9174 - Marcy's new top for Vogue Patterns ~

I thought it was a little heavier weight than it actually is...but if I underline each piece with a silk batiste or a silk or rayon lining...hopefully it will work for the pattern. It will have a softer drape but that should make it perfect for spring/summer wearing.

Of course, after searching the site to find fabric, I found two additional ones that I just couldn't bear not to have in the collection. The first is called Tweed Posie and it's no longer on the site... reminded me of the fabric I used to make this vest and skirt...which I thought I'd given away but after is still in the closet. 

The second piece is a black velvet denim which is still on the site. Here is the link for it.

I want to make a jeans type jacket from this Butterick pattern, originally sold in 2003, it's now out of print.  I've had in the pattern collection for forever and I'm finally going to make it because it fits my present lifestyle.

I want a simple topper to throw over outfits to wear in the office during the winter. In the spring it will be a great jacket for the warmer weather. This fabric/pattern combo fits into my Chicos Chic sewing philosophy.

* * * * *

The pieces from Emmaonesock were pieces I'd been drooling over for awhile.

Left to right: leather applique on mesh, black denim, cut out 
applique faux leather and a shirred faux leather

These were purchased with one of the Christmas gift cards and are heavy on the faux leather. Yeah I got a weakness for cool faux leather pieces and am slowly trying to buy them all up! *LOL*

1.5 yards of a leather applique on mesh, 3 yards of a black denim and 2 yards of the cut out applique faux leather (both sold out on the website), 2 yards of a shirred faux leather. Links are provided to the two fabrics that are still on the site but I don't know how long they will be there.

I'm sure that there won't be any new tenants added to the fabric collection any time soon because I've just bought my plane ticket to Seattle. Yes, I'm meeting up with Gaylen and spending a day at the Sewing Expo. So I've got to save funds for the Pendleton Wool and the Marcy Tilton booths! 

* * * * *

A Book Giveaway ~

Another one of the things I bought with my gift card was this book, "Couture Sewing - The Couture Skirt" by Claire B. Shaeffer. When I went to put it on the bookcase, lo and behold, I already had a copy. So I'm offering it up here. If you'd like to win this book, leave a message in the comments by noon EST on Saturday, January 16th

I will pick a name then and post the winner shortly thereafter. The giveaway is open to everyone and will not be mailed until after Monday, January 18th because it's a holiday here in the US. always more later! 


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