Sunday, November 29, 2015

Vogue 9084 Finished

This was the third top that I made during the sewing vacay but it was the most involved sew.  So let's start with a picture of the Vogue 9084 top finished ~

For all the trials and tribulations to get this top finished, I'm glad I made it. I know it looks nothing like the pattern envelope but I like the use of the suiting fabric with the faux leather to give it a funkysexycool vibe. See I told you, I'm a wanna be biker chick! *LOL*

Materials Used to make the Top~
Glen Plaid Wool Blend Suiting purchased from Fabric Mart years ago
Black faux leather from Sawyer Brook
Rayon Bemberg Lining from
20" invisible zipper

A little more sewing information ~
I detailed all of the pattern alterations and construction challenges in the previous post. Though this top took way longer to make than I thought it would. My choice of fabrics, alterations made to the pattern and the use of the faux leather all elevated the construction level of this pattern.

I was really concerned that I would have a problem getting the sleeves into the top.  Faux leather doesn't really gather well and the sleeve cap on this pattern needs a little gathering to make it fit. However, adding just a small amount of gathering at the top of the sleeve cap worked. I was really thrilled with how easily the sleeves went into the top, especially since it was the last element added before the top was finished. Even the pressing went without a hitch, probably because I used my shoulder stand and an organza pressing cloth folded into fourths to get a good press.

If I were to make any change to the top, it would be to line the peplum...and I even thought about it.  But removing all of the stitching in the hemline was the peplum remains unlined. However, that is the only regret I have about making this top.  Everything else worked so well and it's casual enough for my workplace and yet dressy enough for a win-win.

All of the pattern pieces are altered and stored away.  I don't know if I will make this again. It's such a distinctive pattern. Maybe a spring version out of a lightweight ponte...we will see.

A few more pictures ~ 

Adding the extra flare and lowering the back hem by 2" prevented
the flounce from landing in the middle of my backside.

A peak of the faux leather insert on the side

Worn with a pair of RTW ponte leggings and a wedge shoe bootie

Conclusion ~
I am a dress snob. I love sewing and wearing them. I thought that sewing tops would be easy, too easy after the complicated sews I've had making dresses. Boy did this top pattern prove me wrong! *LOL* Yet I'm so glad that it did! It means that I can take all of my advanced sewing techniques and apply them to some of the tops I make to satisfy my creative needs.

I've primarily sewn tops on this vacay.  Since my company closes Christmas Week and I will be on vacation for 11 days with probably 8 or 9 to just sew, I plan on concentrating on a pants pattern then. I'm so excited and so thrilled with this new top! always more later!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Hi-Low Top - Vogue 9084 - Part One

This vacation seems to have been all about the Top!  This is the third one I've made but the first one I'm blogging about.  It's another pattern that I bought thinking it would look great over leggings or skinny knit pants. 

I originally wrote this as one post but it was so long that I'm cutting it into two! This post talks about the drama of the make and the second one will have pics of me wearing the finished top.

Introduction ~
As with any new pattern, I'm checking the internet to see what other sewists have to say about construction, how it looks on them, etc.  However there were only 2 reviews. I must be the Queen of picking unsewn top patterns! Or I have no experience at all at what looks good as a top. *sigh*

Let's start with why I like this pattern. I don't know about anyone else but I'm a true pear shaped plus size woman. As such, I'm always looking for a fashionable way to cover my ass-ets! Something that's not loose, ill-fitting, or tent-like really appeals to me. Since I've made peace with the size of my thighs, I've found that I really like high low tops.  So whether they're still on trend or not, I'm gonna sew and wear them.

I chose to use the suiting fabric with this pattern because I really did have an epiphany when I saw the Rachel Roy collection at Macy's. It's then that the thought circling in the back of my mind coalesced. I could use my fabric collection in different ways than it was intended for when purchased.  Of course when I started to work with the fabric, it talked to me and told me a different way to go.

Pattern Alterations ~
I lengthened the front and back bodice pieces two inches because the flounce would land on my bodacious booty and stick out the comb (crown) on the top of a rooster's head. Not a good look or the one I was going for!

Added a 4" wedge to the back flounce because I wanted extra flounce. In the two pattern reviews I read the flounce was just so-so and I wanted much more. Interesting from a woman who hates ruffles right?  But trust me the added extra fabric makes the back look more like the illustration on the pattern envelope.

Widened the dart legs on the shoulder back pattern piece to make the dart a full inch wide. This allowed me to remove the excess to make the shoulder seams fit my own.  Because I narrowed the back shoulder seam, I did the same to the front shoulder seam by slicing, overlapping and taping it down.

Added a 1/2 to each side seam in the bicep area because I wanted to insure that I had enough space.  Especially since I was using the faux leather and adding a lining to the sleeve because I find faux leather sleeves clammy.

Cutting and Construction of the Top ~
Matching the glen plaid was easy since it's not a predominant plaid.  Also, the fact that the fabric was 61" wide made it easy to lay the pieces side by side to get a better match.  That was the easy part.

In my infinite wisdom (not!) I decided that lining the top would be better than adding binding to the neckline. In truth it is, in application it was good until I realized my top was too small in the butt area. Why do you ask was it to small there?  Because when you lower a pattern two inches it would be good to remeasure and make sure it fits around your bodacious booty. Ummmm, I neglected to do that!  So let the sewing drama begin...

After I thought about it I had two choices:
  • One to remove the two inches I added because when I pinned it out, everything fit like it should.  
  • Or two find a way to add more inches to it. Of course I chose the more difficult option of adding more inches.
Hey every eff up is an opportunity for a new design decision right? So I went with a godet/wedge because they have worked for me in the past.  Think of my Olivia Pope top (which btw I didn't have the heart to donate so it's still in the back of the closet) I just had to decide if I wanted the wedge to match the fabric or to use a contrasting fabric. 

Up to this point I was wavering about what to do with the sleeves - match or contrast - drama or no drama. I even considered adding ponte as the contrast and sleeves but decided that the faux leather would add an edge to the suiting fabric. So I went with the faux leather.

I added contrast to the side seams (which I increased by 7" and took it from a too tight to a looser fit) by cutting a triangle from faux leather scraps. BTW, I keep a bag of the scraps because who knows when I will need them!

Unpicked the side seams on both the lining and the fashion fabric and inserted the faux leather triangle. Because the seam is a little bulky, I decided to press the seams down first...and then this happened!

Yeah I had the iron up way too high!  Unpicked it one more time and successfully got the triangles added to get the extra width. At the same time I re-evaluated the peplum. The front piece is a lot straighter than I saw it in my head. Now let's make it clear, the pattern envelope has a very straight front but of course I missed that!

So when I added the needed 7" to the front peplum piece, I also added a 6" wedge to give a little more drape to the front of the piece.  Then the peplum was sewn back onto the top. Oh and one more consequence of adding all of that extra fabric - that long-*ss peplum needed to be hemmed. 

After getting the top hemmed - all eighty million inches of it - I made one lined faux leather sleeve pinned it to the top and called it a night.

Post 2 will have finished pictures and more sewing drama! *LOL* always more later! 

Sunday, November 22, 2015


I've thought of loads of ways to write this post and none of them seem to work because I end up sounding like a big whiny baby! As I was walking home the other night, I realized that transitions aren't easy...and neither is this one.

One week I'm inspired and think I know what I want to sew and the next, I'm floundering again! So I'm on vacation this week (btw, I swear I've worked less this year than at any other time in the last 20 years!) and mixed in with the Thanksgiving celebration I want to sew. The challenge is figuring out what to sew.

It's been a long time since I've had loads of time to sew and no idea what to make. I'm thinking I should probably stick to sewing tops since I primarily wear leggings/jean leggings as bottoms. Every once in awhile, I throw a skirt and sweater combo in the mix but I ALWAYS get a comment about why am I so dressed up!  See CHALLENGING!

Anyway, I think I'm gonna start with some tops. Here are some of my contenders...

Then I spent some quality time with the fabric collection pulling possibilities...that was actually the best part of the experience...touching the fabric in the collection. I know the pile below is bigger than I can possibly sew in the next couple of days but it's a starting point with options to allow me to sew as I'm moved. Hopefully continuing to sew after the vacay is over!

I'm also on the hunt for some low heeled pumps because even though my legs look okay in leggings with shoe boots, I'm still happiest in a shoe with a heel. I think I need to make a trip to DSW to see what's available.  Finally, I really need to get on with reworking or working on a new pants pattern.

Now let's hope I actually sew and don't end up spending the entire time in front of my television or reading books! always more later!

Sunday, November 08, 2015

The Tamarack Jacket from Grainline Studio

When the email for the Tamarack Jacket from Grainline Studios popped up in my email, I perked up because it looked like the perfect pattern to use for the Kanthra Quilt I bought last winter.

I caught the Kanthra Quilt fever from Stitchers Guild when they bought these beautiful quilts and made some amazing garments. Of course, I was at the tail end of the train/trend, but it took me a minute to figure out how to use the quilt in the very corporate life I was living.

When the seasons changed, I packed it and the coordinating wool away but it was always at the edges of my brain. The Tamarack Jacket brought it back to the forefront especially since this more casual style works for my lifestyle now.

Pattern Alterations ~
My challenge with this pattern line is that the largest size is an 18. Now that I'm a little smaller I can fit this pattern with minor alterations.  However, if you wear a larger pattern size (26-32), you will need to make considerably more alterations than I did for this to work for you.  Also, I have a "C" cup bustline so I didn't make any alterations to the bustline but if you are larger busted, you will definitely need to make some changes.

  1. The alterations I made were to give me a little more ease in the waist and hip area.
  2. Both the front and back piece were lengthened 2" at the lengthen/shorten line because I wanted to insure that the jacket covered my backside.
  3. I added a 1/2 inch to the side seam - starting at the underarm and going out the 1/2 inch merging into the side curve.
  4. I moved the pocket placement line higher cause I thought the pockets were kind of low.
  5. I changed the pockets from welt to patch because the jacket is unlined and I don't like the welt pocket bags just hanging loose on the inside of the jacket.

After measuring the sleeve biceps, I decided that I wanted to add a little just to insure that I had enough ease in the finished sleeve. So I added a 1/2" to either side by starting at the underarm seam and adding it through the body of the sleeve merging into the side seam.

As you can see from my pattern pieces above, I kind of free hand drew the alterations onto the pattern piece. I then went back and measured to make sure that I only added a 1/2" to each side.

One final flat measurement of all the pieces and I was ready to cut into this:

Construction of the Jacket ~
The actual jacket construction is simple. It is a basic jacket with only hooks and eyes for closures. However, if you quilt your fabric and make your own binding for the jacket's finishing ~ those are the time consuming processes and the new techniques to be learned.

Since I used the quilt I skipped the "quilting" step but I wanted a substantial binding so I made my own from a stashed remnant of black ponte. If anything was a challenge during the construction process, this was it.  The ponte did not hold a press well so it was a slow go to get it made.

And being the rebel that I am, I did not apply the binding the way the pattern suggests. I stitched the binding onto the front at the first fold. Then I pulled the binding to the back, opened it up and pinned it to the back of the jacket.

On the front I stitched the binding close to the edge and using my duck billed scissors cut off the extra binding to clean finish the inside of the jacket. Sewing the ponte binding on as the pattern suggested would have made the binding to thick. The way I did it gave it a substantial finish but it didn't make the edges too heavy.

The pattern has great instructions on how to miter the corners. Following this some of my edges turned out great and some didn't but that was totally user error! Once the binding is added, you sew the sleeve in, then sew the side seams down and you're done! 

Here is a picture of the finished jacket on Lulu ~

Please remember that Lulu is now bigger than I am and the jacket meets in the front on me.  I'm trying to decide if I want to add some kind of toggles to the front of the jacket, as well as, some buttons on my patch pockets. Though I'm on the fence on that one since I love how the pockets blend into the fabric.

I also cut a pencil skirt out of black ponte to go with the jacket...cause believe it or not but I don't own one. As soon as my photographer, aka my daughter, is around, I will have pictures of me wearing the jacket up on the blog.

Next on my cutting table is the Grainline Studio Morris Jacket which thankfully I own the paper pattern for...cause as much as I wanted to make the Tamarack Jacket...I.can't.stand.taping.pattern.pieces.together. always more later!

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

I'm Not Having Enough Fun Yet

What do I mean by this? I'm gonna start at the beginning...see I'm still eating soft food and frozen yogurt is a favorite.  My all time favorite frozen yogurt joint is Pinkberry.  I loves me some Pinkberry.  When I moved to the Herald Square area I thought I would nevah have Pinkberry again until I googled it and found out that there's a Pinkberry in Macy's.  Yeap on the 7th floor between Women's and Children's - Pinkberry.

Normally, I use the 33rd Street & Seventh Avenue side door, slide into the elevators and make it down the main aisle to Pinkberry. Gotta have my frozen yogurt crack...but today I decided that I wanted to ride the escalator up to the 7th floor cause I didn't want to rush back to work. Y'know sometimes you just need a minute...

So on the third floor, the Vince Camuto shop caught my eye and I stepped off. Then I wandered around headed for the INC department but this stopped me in my tracks... I stepped into the Rachel Rachel Roy shop and just gazed in awe at the beauties.  The garments were so cool, yet casual and perfect for my new lifestyle that I realized, I'm still not having enough fun with my wardrobe yet.

See in my head, I've known that I've wanted to use some of my corporate menswear fabrics from my fabric collection in cool and funky ways. In Rachel Roy's shop there were quite a few pieces like that and I want to make my own versions of them. The one above uses a menswear plaid for the bodice, a striped shirting for the skirt and sheer fabric for the rest of it.  IF I made it exactly like this, I would wear leggings (my new favorite piece of clothing) under it.

Then there was this one ~

It's a sweater knit top with a plaid shirting attached to it at the waistline. I have a few sweaters that I was wondering what to do with them and now I know the fate of at least one of them!  Of course my dress will be a little longer in the front worn with some tights...but isn't this just funky and kewl!?!

This is a dress on the website but when I picked it up I thought cool tunic!

Made from a neoprene or a ponte with lots of topstitching. Add a cool zipper/zipper pull with some sleeves to wear over a pair of slim pants or some leggings...yes! I even love the burnt orange color.

I could have wandered around for another hour or two, because I saw a faux leather tunic with a suede pocket, a black 'n white asymmetric top from a lightweight ponte with a zipper inserted at the hemline on an angle and loads of floaty tops.  However...Pinkberry was calling!

As I rode the escalator to 7, I realized that I'm being pedantic about sewing new pieces. I still haven't grasped that I can sew "creative" casual clothing...that just because my fellow employees embrace the jean/tshirt or jean/plaid shirt look, it doesn't mean that I have to also...especially because it just doesn't feel like me.

BTW, I did stop and speak to the saleswoman to check on sizing.  Rachel Roy doesn't presently have a plus size line but the saleswoman said that RR is working on one. Even though these aren't pricey goods, I couldn't purchase them if I wanted to!  Sewing my own versions is the only way to get them!

Now I have some more direction...some new inspiration and later this month some time off to do a little sewing...and I Can't Wait!!! always more later!

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Final Closet Cull

I have to admit that it's weird waking up and putting on more RTW than me-made every morning.  I know that in time, I will get back to primarily me-made but it's definitely a shift.  To add to that shift, I did the last closet cull...and I was ruthless this time because one day last week...I realized that I NEVAH opened the closet doors anymore.

Why? Because 90% of what was in the closet was either too big or unsuitable for my new life. So I decided enough was enough and I cleared the closet out. The result ~ almost all of my RTW cardigans that I purchased to go over me-made dresses are still around but the dresses have been donated.  Picked up last Monday and vanquished from the house forever.

I think I was finally ready to let go because I saw no point in holding on.  Think of any dress I made from 2011-2014 and it probably will be worn by some other person now.  Skirts and pants too were donated, though this morning I located a few more pieces that were probably ignored during the scourge last week, that will also be given away. I was ready to be done.  I had no regrets, shed no tears, just realized that this is a new life event and I need to meet it head on.

However, a few pieces remained ~

This dress (McCalls 6395) which I'd only worn once or twice because it really was a little too funky for my old job...

...became a new top worn over jeans!

I cut the skirt portion off the dress right under the faux leather band and tossed it.  The top needed nothing ~ no other repairs/alterations because the faux leather trim finished it off nicely.  It wore well over jeans and under a black cardigan to work. 

This outfit which I absolutely loved ~ a cardigan from Butterick 6002 in faux leather and ponte and my TNT dress in faux leather and ponte...

...was shortened to tunic length and will be worn over leggings.

I was happy to save this one by cutting off 17 inches and hemming the lining and ponte fabric.  This is one of my ponte outfits where the ponte is piling but that's because the perforated faux leather works against the ponte.  I shaved the piling off and probably won't wear this outfit often but at least this one made it through the closet cull.

Other than the outfits I made this year and a couple from the end of last year, everything is gone.  The good thing is that I have loads of pictures here on the blog, as well as details, on how garments were constructed if I decide to remake anything in the future.

I also donated a dozen pair of brand new heels that were barely worn and that I wouldn't wear now anyway.  The only things that I didn't give away were handbags and my extensive jewelry collection.  I will figure out a new way to wear the jewelry and well the handbags can always be used.

So with a much lighter closet, I'm pressing on and working out new pieces to be added to the wardrobe. always more later!


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