Saturday, October 25, 2014

Pattern Whisperer Selects: Party dress

That last post offering my services as a Pattern Whisperer was a bit of a lark, but whew! The response was quite a surprise. So many of you (including plenty who sew and blog and choose all kinds of good patterns) wanted a little pattern counseling. And after all, for many of us sewing is a solitary sport so to have a friend giving that virtual "dressing room" advice is definitely fun and worthwhile.

I have been collecting all kinds of ideas in the categories of dresses and jackets for casual and work wear but first up is the party dress selection.

So let's turn our attention to the comment from Rachel who blogs at SewSouthLondon.wordpress.com. Here is her comment:

OMG! you've answered my prayers. I was just thinking about writing a blog post searching for      inspiration for a very special party dress for my next birthday (a BIG one with a 0 on the end!) I have mainly sewn with Indie patterns except for the        (blank here in her comment)
I am in need of a pattern for:
  1. A party dress with wow factor. Something slinky and figure-enhancing.
  2. I am an intermediate sewist.
  3. I tend to have to add an FBA, and usually go up a size at the waist. 
  4. I love designs that flatter a more hourglass figure. I have found that dresses that accentuate a waistline and are fairly fitted on the bodice look best. I would probably go quite short too. It is my birthday, after all...!

Now who could resist that plea? Not me.  Hopefully she won't regret asking :)
So I took a look at her blog, and thought about shape and style. And thought some more. Then I revisited her comment, (note the word slinky) paired that up in my mind with her shape in this dress - scroll down to see the solid red version - and came up with this. 

Vogue 1342 Donna Karan knit dress.  But please not in that color ! I think in a deep rose or wine color, or maybe a very dark amethyst purple.  OK, it does say advanced pattern, but as you all may know, these Donna Karan patterns are genius. It is the lining that does all the work.  As regards fitting: Hopefully they have the finished garment measurements on the pattern tissue. So far all Vogue patterns do, even these form fitting twisty knit ones. So go by your measurements to choose the pattern size and use the multi size pattern to help with fitting. I also think the straps will allows some shortening at the back which is a nice feature. I think I would keep this one at knee length. It is certainly figure enhancing and the length of the skirt adds to the drama. I know you said you are an intermediate level sewist but I think jumping to the advanced level with a knit dress is a good way to go.  Our pattern requester (willing victim) Rachel has a great figure and could wear the heck out of this dress - so be brave!

Vogue 1342 dress

Vogue 1342 drawing

OK, now that I have shocked you with my first recommendation, how about another one?
Up next is Simplicity 1778 which is one of those pattern envelopes that suffer a bit from either hideous fabric choice or prints that obscure the details. If you don't think this one can be a WOW then check out this version I found.

Simplicity 1778 dress pattern env
I am including the line drawing so you can the seaming. this dress has A LOT of fitting opportunities.
what am I talking about?  Princess seams - front and back, perfect. Under bust seaming - very useful for lengthening or shortening. Clever pleating across the front - adds to the slinky and still leaves space for some drinks and nibbles. Love that.  I am a fan of the square neckline, I just think it is really pretty but some people don't like it. Also allows you to easily raise up the neckline if it is a bit too low which you can't as easily do the the sweetheart wrap neckline. My choice, I would make the square neckline, sleeveless version, in a good quality ponte or other knit. Whatever choice, an quick  muslin in a similar weight and/or stretch fabric would really help you to get the fit just right. I am not always a fan of the super tight dress - but as shown in that link in the previous paragraph, when fitting right they look hot!

S1778 tech drawing

Rachel, here are two more suggestions that may be closer to items that you have previously sewn. And slightly less va-voom.  But who wants that for the special birthday...not you, right?
This New Look 6123 pattern has a standard bodice and attached skirt, so if you have made a dress with a bodice with bust and waist darts you can compare for fit. I like the V-neckline version - sleeveless or the cap sleeves, and the draped skirt. In a solid color it would be smashing,

New Look 6123

And one more suggestion, this one may be a bit random but how about Lekala 4078. This is quite an easy dress to sew, I would leave off the sleeves and narrow the width of the shoulder portion a bit - my favorite adjustment for portion - always looks more elegant. If you leave off the sleeves you may need to raise the bottom of the armhole. Or with sleeves - great for winter. You are in the UK and this would be a very quick and economical option  - pricing for us here in the US is around $ 3. They send the PDF quite fast (it has always been in less than an hour for me) and since you put in your measurements you probably won't have to do an FBA. 

Lekala 4078 pattern and drawing

So those are my suggestions for a WOW dress for you, Rachel. I will be so interested to hear what everyone thinks. And if you go in a different direction that is OK too - find something that will be fun to sew, don't stress over it and my biggest suggestion is to pick a color that you LOVE to wear and you will shine. Hmmm...my other piece of advice for party dress sewing. Treat it a little bit like a costume. It doesn't have to be perfect on the inside. You are going to wear it a few times, styles will change or fabrics will go out of favor. It's not a coat you will keep for many years or a pair of jeans that get every weekend wear. A party dress is almost like a party itself, a bit ephemeral - something to enjoy, remember and on to the next thing.

I hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Happy sewing, Beth




Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Pattern Whisperer is taking your requests

Edit on 10/21/14:  The Pattern Whisperer request line is now closed. I am currently reviewing all the comments and working on my choices. I will be choosing some specific requests to address with suggestions. But I will also make some general recommendations in the various categories which can apply to a lot of you so that more stitchers can get some ideas on patterns.

My head is spinning! But I can say that it is really fun to look at patterns with a different perspective other than how it might work out for me. 
First up will be the request from SewSouthLondon. If you scroll down to her comment she is looking for a special party dress and I have some ideas she may find surprising. Hopefully in a good way. 
Stay tuned!

The Pattern Whisperer is waiting for your questions! I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in one of my posts about patterns that I secretly love picking out patterns for other people. It is really fun to look at someone's shape, lifestyle, event, sewing ability or even fabric and choose a pattern that might be just right for them.

Note that I have kind of fixed ideas on how things should fit, and what looks good on various figures. Anyone can look great and have a garment that flatters but sometimes you have to choose very carefully or focus on one fashion detail and skip some others to get the look you are going for.

So with those caveats - who is interested?  I figured since we are heading into holiday and winter sewing - particularly for the organized among us - I should do this now.

This is just for fun and hopefully will get us all thinking about what makes a good pattern. Is there a universally great pattern? Are there patterns that have no envelope appeal but sew up well and look great on many people?  It will be interesting to see.

photo of pattern bin Another note - I will be choosing from Simplicity, New Look, Butterick, McCalls, Vogue, BurdaStyle PDF, or Burda envelope patterns. Those are the ones I am familiar with and can easily scan through the websites looking at. Although remember my other favorite saying "there are no new patterns!" Even if you can't obtain one of these, it is quite likely there is something similar in a different pattern line that will work.







If you would like me to recommend a pattern please leave the following details in the comments. 

Let's limit it to 4 categories.  I will pick one or two from each category and give a few options as to patterns I think might look good, sew up well, and hopefully be adjusted for fit without too much trouble.

  1. Day or work dress
  2. Holiday or party dress
  3. Jacket  
  4. Coat  

Please include the following information in your comment:

  • What you want to make (details such as a dress for holiday party, a winter coat which will be a wardrobe basic, a casual jacket to wear with jeans and a t-shirt)
  • sewing skill level (and what you feel comfortable either sewing or a new thing you want to try)
  • your most significant fitting issue(s)
  • A special detail. Kind of a do's and don'ts, such as: must have full skirt, or can't be sleeveless. Needs classic shape to last for several years (coats). Needs to be in a particular size range. Love or Hate certain necklines. Want to accentuate a small bust, hide a tummy, fit on broad shoulders, etc..... we all have variations and sewing lets us adjust for fit and look good doing it.  
  • Optional - Fabric.  if you have a particular fabric that you can't quite figure out which pattern to use include that as well.
If you have a blog or a profile on Pattern Review or ButdaStyle where I can take a look at photos of your previous makes that would be great, so let me know that as well.

Not asking for an essay here :)  just a few lines with your sewing wishes, fit issues and garment choice.

OK, remember this is all for fun. No one is going to check up on you and see if you sewed up your Pattern Whisperer pick. But maybe we will all get some ideas on what works for different people.

Happy Sewing, Beth






Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Random Threads #9

today's topics: coat desires, a fitting guide and how many patterns is too many?

Today it is almost coat weather here. Well just barely, this morning I was out and about in jeans, a short-sleeve top and sneakers. So no need for a jacket but there is a tiny hint of autumn in the air. There are supposedly some rainclouds blowing by and we are all hoping for a storm. Because we really, really need it!
Which means I have been thinking about making a coat. For no good reason, by my count I have at least 3 that are currently wearable - meaning style, fit, color are nice. (I have several more that are buried in the depths of the closet which I just can't part with but never wear lately). And as I have said before, the weather which is temperate and my not so fancy lifestyle conspire to make a wardrobe of coats not really necessary. But......I am still thinking about a new one. Here are two coats I have recently seen online and they both give me a thrill.

This one I saw in the New York Times Style magazine and had to track it down. It is a Louis Vuitton coat from their Fall 2014 collection. Wool with leather insets on the collar and pockets. They show it with a separate belt belt, theirs of course.
LV Coat

This one is from LK Bennet, a UK brand. This line started with shoes but now also have clothes.  I love the simple shape of this one and the way the neckline goes up in the back. It does look great in this red shade but I have a coat in this color.

LK Bennet coat

Last year mid-winter I bought this fabric at Stone Mountain for who knows what reason. I rarely buy something with no idea and now that I have it I fear it is a bit dull. Quite soft and it does have lots of flecks of different shades of grey, mauve, purple, red. 

purple grey wool

So I like the red LK Bennet coat shape more but the Vuitton coat shape would be so nice for this wool with some coordinating leather for the trim. Perhaps I should go look at the leather options and then decide. 

As for patterns, the Vuitton is a fairly straight forward style, I could find a pattern and adapt. The LK Bennet is a princess style with the interesting neckline, I was thinking I could adapt this jacket into a coat pattern. 

I had a new post on the Craftsy Sewing blog this weekend which I completely forgot about. But if you are interested in pattern fitting you might want to take a look. And this morning I was completely gratified to read that someone got something out of one my posts, Sewing Tidbits adjusted her Archer shirt pattern to great success. Thanks for the acknowledgement :)  and a great blog too, interesting observations, lots of pretty creations and tropical backgrounds - just my cup of tea.
Craftsy post measureing
Link to the Craftsy Post


How many patterns is too many?  This past weekend I went to the Bay Area Sewist's Meetup, always fun to see friends and meet people who are new to sewing. This one was a pattern swap, so I brought some that I will never use and was determined to leave with fewer. However....someone (not sure of her name) brought an amazing haul of Vogue designer patterns, completely unused. So I did avail myself of a few.  The one on the left looks very simple, almost nondescript but the line drawings are fantastic and 3 completely different dresses. For the one on the right, I blame LauraMae as she is quite the pattern enabler - to the point where she dragged me over to the table and said "you have to take this one, it is a great pattern that looks good on everyone"!  OK, I am not going to say no to that endorsement. 
Dk patterns

I have kind of mini-obsession over Donna Karan Vogue patterns and want to collect them all. (and Michael Kors patterns although he seems to have dropped the partnership). I give DK all the credit in the world for continuing for so long with Vogue and giving people like me a chance to sew these up. One little note is that in the last 2 Vogue releases I was completely blah about the DK patterns, however if time is any proof I will be scooping them up down the road. Confession I do really like V1408 but a self imposed moratorium means no adding of unnecessary sleeveless dresses to my wardrobe. I will hold out until spring!

Update on my potential fabric fail - that jacket is looking even worse than anticipated. With a distinctly 70's safari suit vibe that I was not intending (like who would?)  But I am powering through and finishing, so I will show all soon.  And then onward to fall not fail for real.

has autumn arrived where you are?  
Happy Sewing, Beth

And a lingering bloom in the garden, a red nicotiana.

red nicotiana

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Blog Hop - Why I write

My far away on-line friend Yoshimi of the blog yoshimi the flying squirrel has passed the blog hop baton over to me. She has a talent for creating effortlessly cool garments and I wish I could meet her in real life. Someday! So the blog hop is moving around and we are supposed to answer the following questions on why we write. Here are my answers.

1. Why do you write?

OK, I will be completely candid here - I am one of those people that see something and always say to myself "I can do that".  Not always successfully but more often than not it really does work out well. I am a big time try-er (if that can be a word I just made up). So I read blogs for a while and finally said to myself - jump in! At first I didn't have much to write about but over the months I got into a routine and along with that I was doing more sewing for myself and other people so the topics developed from that. 
There have been two things about writing this sewing blog that have been the most happy and unexpected effects and these will keep me doing it for a long time.

First - I am surprised at how much I enjoy the writing process. Crafting the sentences, having a theme, a story or topic that flows, something that connects with a lot of readers, that has been really fun. Now I can confess that almost everything I sew gets a little mental scrutiny - I analyze how I can turn every project into a blog post. All sewing doesn't make the cut but most things I sew for myself show up on the blog eventually. 

Second - The friendships and opportunities that have come my way are just amazing. I have met so many fantastic people and have a whole new circle of enthusiastic friends just because I decided to both join in and reach out to the people I met online via their sewing blogs. One day I had an unexpected email from Karen in London asking if I would do a week of sewing and tailoring instruction with her here. Since then I have continued teaching many other wonderful women who are interested in fitting, tailoring and all things sewing. And we never run out of subjects to talk about.

Britex_vertical
Meetup at Britex to say goodbye to Amy of Sew-Well

2. How is your blog different to others of the same genre?

I make a lot of Vogue and Simplicity/New Look patterns, plus a smattering of Burda so that is not different from other seamsters,  but almost no independent patterns. I tend to make more tailored items that others I see (so that is a bit different) lots of jackets and coats, probably more than I need. This may surprise you to hear but I don't think I have ever called one of my posts a tutorial. Sometimes I like to show how I do a particular technique or tackle some pattern but I don't like to write tutorials. That is a lot of responsibility: to remember to take all the photos, make sure every step is included, post all the photos in proper order. Whew! too much work. 

One difference in my blog and my sewing is that sometimes my fabric choices are a bit weird. Not the fabrics but the backstory on them. A few years ago I bought some very nice fabrics at a garage sale and ever since then I have an overwhelming urge to find extremely low-cost mystery fabrics and try to turn them into something fabulous. So far I have been darn lucky in my finds and have made a beautiful blue coat, a favorite Vogue dress, this skirt and this jacket plus lots more. I was telling someone recently that at this point in my sewing life (at it since about age 7) I feel like I could sew anything and use any fabric so the challenge is not going to the store and picking out something just right for a particular pattern, but taking the oddball fabric and visualizing what it could be. Plus the minimal expense takes any pressure off. The Vogue pattern seen below I made with some wool I bought at a tag sale.

Rose jacket1
Another thing I like to do on my blog is write posts in series, so that the stories unfold over several different chapters. My first one was the story of the Vintage Treasure dress, a series that still gets lots of readers. I made a very unusual wedding dress using vintage Japanese kimono silk for a local bride who had an eco-friendly wedding in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. That was fun and the process lent itself to doing a series of posts because we all knew the culmination would be the wedding, and the photos provided by the bride were great. I did a series on what I call the "One-Hit-Wonders" in my wardrobe, items I made and wore only once. I can report that some of those have been revived and worn again, others sent on to someone else and the finale dress seen below will stay in my closet forever.

Navy party dress on me

3. What am I working on right now?


Right now I am working on several things at once, which is the usual state of affairs around here. Before I left on vacation I cut out a denim jacket, using the pattern I made copying a ready to wear jacket I owned. Alas, this may be a rare fail – completely due to operator error. I was rushing before I left and started cutting it out very quickly. Then I realized that contrary to any stretch denim I have EVER used, the stretch is longways on the fabric, not crossways. WHAT?  So I am forging ahead and it may turn out fine in the end. But I was so damn angry when I sewed a few seams and realized that I shoved it in a bin. Took it out the other day and figured I should finish it. I love the color. 

turquoise denim jacket start

Also I am cloning another dress for a friend and making versions with different necklines. In my queue is a totally unnecessary dress pattern that I really want to make, Vogue 8946. And I have shirt pattern that I am going to experiment with fitting and then blog about it with a pattern giveaway for fall sewing.

4. What is your writing process?


I have a mix of planned posts and things that I sew up quickly and show on the blog. So the quick ones are more pattern review type posts where I like to choose one or two features of the project, it could be a pocket, the fitting or maybe the fabric that are potentially interesting so I write a post around that feature. Longer posts or series often are things I think about and they kind of marinate in my brain for a while – I may be overstating things but I like to have some underlying theme and then the sentences seem to flow from that. Usually I write the posts late at night when it is very quiet and I am often surprised when I sit down intending to work on a post for maybe 10 or 15 minutes and then realize an hour has gone by and it is done. I always struggle with photos, they are necessary for a visual medium like sewing but are my least favorite part of the whole thing. I wish I could post more often but maybe sticking to around once a week is a good idea, gives me time to think of things to say and actually spend my time sewing instead of typing.

So that's the scoop!

and now I pass the Why I Write blog topic over to the following bloggers:

LauraMae of the blog Lilacs and Lace. She makes fantastic vintage and vintage inspired garments, sews meticulously, knits as well and is one of those wonderful people that I have now become friends with in real life :)

Manju of the blog SewManju. She is in the UK so I have not had the pleasure of a real life meeting, but as with Yoshimi - you never know what the next years may bring.  Manju makes chic, colorful and sophisticated garments and always seems to sew up the precise Vogue or New Look pattern that I am contemplating. Thank you for that!

Now it should be back to actual sewing around here but wow, our summer is lingering on and on. For which I am not complaining, summer girl that I am. I have worn a couple of my recent favorites to various parties recently, a Marfy and a Vogue repeat, and not a coat needed. Yippee! but I do have the slightest hankering to make a wool blazer.....

Happy pre-Halloween sewing to all,  Beth

(this is the time of year where I stay FAR away from the fabric stores during after school hours and on weekends, filled with novice sewers and desperate crowds,  that is where the really spooky things happen!!!!)





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Still Summer here: V1247 skirt in white plus Lekala top

What is the most summery item? To me it is always something white. White shorts, a white eyelet dress, a crisp white top. I love white cotton clothes but haven't made anything in a while but this top just needed a white skirt. The top is a Lekala pattern I made earlier this year, This might be my best fitting t-shirt pattern. Interesting, huh? I need to try more of their tops.

Lekala top white skirt back

I came across a piece of white poplin in my remnant stash which was forgotten, but I must have saved it knowing it could be made into something. What else, the best skirt pattern ever? Vogue 1247. This is my third one (version one and version two) and I have an idea for a really great modification when the weather changes.
Recognize the fabric in this top? When I made another of my all-time favorite patterns (Vogue 1191 twist front dress) some substantial but oddly shaped bits remained, and I loved this fabric so much I couldn't throw these scraps away. In the back of my mind I was thinking I could make some kind of mixed fabric knit top - but probably not as that would entail finding something that actually coordinated. So another item that was scrunched away in the knit fabrics bin. I looked at it periodically when I was rummaging for something and the most recent time I had a brainwave - try the Lekala top. Sleeveless! With complete disregard for orientation. So some parts are cut lengthwise and some crosswise but it makes no difference really, with this 4-way stretch rayon knit.  When I ordered this it also came in a turquoise color version - so that is my fabric "one that got away" in the last few years. Always wished I had ordered that colorway as well. Because I need more turquoise items right, HAH.

coral Lekala tee frontcoral Lekala tee back

After I finished this skirt I found another white remnant which was a bit thicker and I am wishing I had used that instead. This one is fine - the only problem is that the pockets show through a LOT. I cut them down to only about 2 inches deep, which is fine but they still show a bit and look a little weird. I lined the skirt in a lightweight cotton. And it was just a teensy bit too short for my liking so I looked and looked for something I could edge the bottom to add a bit of length. White is really difficult to match. Or things just looked strange, too thin, or too stiff (tried ribbon, that was a fail). I took a tiny scrap of the white poplin to the store and found this trim that matched the white perfectly. Just enough to add an inch.

V1247 hem lace

Here's a look at the ghostly pockets and the waistband treatment. In fact the treatment is to leave off the waistband as I did on my red wool crepe version # 2 of this pattern.

V1247 white skirtV1247 white skirt zip
 I might have put a tiny strip of interfacing on the lining, and then just sew the lining as if it is a facing. Ta daa, a lined skirt. I find these waistband-less skirts sooooo comfy to wear and on me they stay in the right place, whereas a waistband skirt seems to migrate upwards. Probably my error in fitting.

The camera was misbehaving when all my vacation pics were taken, the all seem a bit overexposed. Or it was autofocusing on the greenery and not my sewing stuff.  See...needed that extra length, just looks OK not too mini.
Lekala top and white skirt front

The calendar says Fall but around here, i.e. here in my part of N. California it is still summer. Other than getting dark early but way too soon to put away the sleeveless tees and white skirts. Yeah for that!
And I hate to tell you but I still have a couple more summer items not yet blogged - though they are patterns that can apply for other seasons so there is that.

Based on lots of comments I am planning to do a post on good patterns for holiday dresses - patterns I think are interesting and easily adjusted for fit. Or that fit certain body types.

Just curious - has anyone taken any of the BurdaStyle webinars?  they have a lot and I am very curious about them, format, content etc. Interesting that I have not seen any reviews or feedback on sewing blogs (at least on the blogs I read - which is a lot!)

I have not purchased any supplies or fabric via the Craftsy website but noticed this one the other day:
Dawn to Dusk Knit Top Kit which is on sale now for $ 19.99  It includes one of my favorite knit top patterns New Look 6150, and 2 yards of rayon spandex blend with a choice of colors. Quite a good deal and particularly for those who mentioned in the comments on my pattern costs post that they couldn't get New Look patterns. Although with my sewing students last week I learned a lot about paying duty on items ordered from the US. Whew! it adds up.
By the way - I am not a Craftsy affiliate or get anything for mentioning. I just thought it was a good deal.  Here is the pattern and the tops that I made with it.

Pattern New Look 6150 Wrap top sweaterknitWrap top knit grey stripe frontAqua wrap top front

Yesterday I was out walking and saw Halloween decorations on some houses. It is not even October yet (or wasn't yesterday).  EEK!

Happy (still summer) sewing, Beth

Friday, September 26, 2014

Fitting can be Fun...Really!

Are you intrigued by this blog post title?  Well it can be fun if you have great sewing students like I have had here the last few weeks.
I was well-rested although still a bit on Hawaiian time when the very charming Lucia arrived from Amsterdam to spend a few days learning all about jacket construction.

Look at that smile! We had such a great time making what I will now think of as the jacket pattern for 2014.

Lucia sewing

What pattern?  This one, Vogue 8333. This is the second time I have helped a sewing student with the fit and construction. Previously with Seamstress Erin it was all about the fit, but Lucia arrived with a muslin that was about 85% there, and we just made a few more fit changes so she could cut out and start sewing.  Now that I have worked on this pattern twice - I think my copy will go in the pattern storage bin, I have thought about making it a few times but never quite got there. I will say it is definitely a tricky jacket to fit and I have so many other patterns that already are adjusted or just suit me more. But hey - this one is becoming a mini-specialty of mine. 

V8333 jacket pattern envelope

Lucia said she had been reading my blog and wanted to learn the methods I use combining fusible interfacing and tailoring techniques. She spent the better part of a week working on this jacket, from pattern marking to pressing, fusibles to lining tricks, and left with a jacket about 60% complete. I can't wait to see the finished garment photos! We also found time for a trip to Joann Fabrics as she was bemoaning the lack of availability in the Netherlands of products such as good linings, interfacings, patterns etc. She certainly gave a voice to so many comments that you all left on my post last month inquiring about the cost of patterns and other items outside the US.  As luck would have it (or just a typical day in the US) I had a ridiculous quantity of 50% off coupons AND Vogue patterns were on sale for $ 4.79 AND McCalls too. She went home with plenty of Ambiance lining to last for a good while as well as notions and Vogue patterns (although as we are all quite familiar, some of the patterns she wanted were not in the drawer, typical)
It was a good thing she made some space in her suitcase for all her bargains by giving me a lovely gift.  TULIP bulbs from the Netherlands !!!!   That was so nice of her.  I can't wait to plant them. 

bag of tulips

But I said Fitting was fun, right?  It is, if you have the pleasure of spending the week with Jennifer and Neroli, twin sisters who are globe-trotting Kiwis that arranged for their travel paths to cross in San Francisco.  Honestly, people from New Zealand amaze me, they must be the most well-traveled people on the planet. Jennifer on her way home from Europe and Neroli going on a bicycle trip in N. Calif after her sewing week with me. They had energy - they were determined to leave with all kinds of new fitting knowledge and some patterns tamed into submission - and we achieved those goals with PLENTY of comedy along the way. 
Serious construction mode was in full gear, so our hands were busy but that left lots of opportunity for discussion of patterns, fabrics, blogs, style, celebrity fashion, US culture and all the rest. I don't have any pictures to show you other than this one that I took when cleaning up the sewing studio.

fitting muslin patterns

This photo represents some of what we did. Fitted a muslin fitting shell and a princess seamed dress for Jennifer, and a darted bodice, a princess seam bodice and a blazer jacket for Neroli, plus a super rapid-fire version in Swedish tracing paper of the Kay Unger Vogue pattern on the last morning.  We went over fitting, interfacings, how to translate the fit adjustment from the muslin back to the pattern. After this week I can say that maybe the most important part of fitting is what pattern size you start with, and not to discourage anyone but it is very likely that you are starting with the wrong size. 

They were about 1-2 sizes smaller than me so I could have them try on all kinds of dress and jacket styles from my closet. Which was fun, hilarious and very enlightening. In my role as "Pattern Whisperer" I recommended princess seaming and they tried on muslins and finished objects from these patterns below. I think an empire waist is not as popular as a dress with a waist seam but it does look good on a lot of women and I actually think if you are petite (ok short) it can be somewhat elongating and/or a way to create emphasis and balance if you have a small bust.  

Amazing fit patterns


We ventured over to Berkeley one afternoon for a shopping session at Stone Mountain fabrics and then dinner at one of my fav restaurants (A Cote on College Ave). When we got to Stone Mountain I kind of showed them around every section, knits, silks, denims etc and thought they were not very impressed. Turns out they were just taking it all in, and then went into full fabricaholic mode. Let's just say that they will have some very cute knit dresses, t-shirts and be able to immediately start in with the patterns they have now fitted. 
I think Jennifer and Neroli will have a great advantage in fitting as they really paid attention to each other's fitting adjustments and issues, plus they get together periodically to sew. Sounds fun, doesn't it?  

I feel so fortunate to have the chance to meet these three wonderful women that are passionate sewers and really fun and interesting as well. They all had contacted me for sewing lessons quite a while ago and after we finalize the plans I always wonder...what will they be like?  Will we have things to talk about? But it always works out so much better than I could imagine. Not to get all sappy but I am really happy that one day in 2010 I decided to start this sewing blog, the connections and friendships that have resulted are amazing and rewarding. 

So that's what I have been up to. I still have a few more summer items to post that I sewed way back in July and happily wore on vacation. 

This is the time of year when so many people get geared up for fall sewing, and I tend to run out of steam. You know I love summer and when it comes to autumn, eh, I can take it or leave it. But I am currently testing a coat pattern (something I rarely do) so I think a new coat may appear before the end of the year. I did buy a yummy sweater knit when at Stone Mountain so I will be ready one evening for some fall sewing if the temperature gets chilly. Which I hope it doesn't - I am still wearing shorts (like the UPS delivery guys, although I can't go year round as they do :)  Time for some serious garden cleanup tomorrow...

Happy almost autumn sewing, Beth



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Tropical silk blouse refashion and pattern design how-to

It might seem like I have been raiding my mom's closet lately but not really. She had another item she was going to donate but I thought the fabric was beautiful so away it came with me. It was a dress that was really a top and wrap skirt. I converted the top to this little sleeveless tank as an example for a Craftsy post.


silk top2

The post for Craftsy is based on their class One Pattern Many Looks: Blouses. I thought it was a really useful and interesting class. The teacher is very clear and easy to follow the steps for the various tops she created.  I like the way that you use a basic shirt pattern (as opposed to a bodice sloper) to adapt to different tops so I have several others in the pipeline based on a basic Simplicity button front shirt pattern. You can use any basic shirt pattern so if you have one that already fits so you can use that. (Like the Archer shirt which so many have, or the Simplicity Amazing fit shirt pattern I used) Any darted front shirt pattern will work.

combined silk blouse 2
It looks like a simple top but there are some little details - the bust darts on the original shirt pattern are actually shifted to be shoulder gathers. If you are interested in all the details take a look at my post on Craftsy today. Lots of information on the pattern manipulation and more photos of the details.

There is a cowl neck blouse shown in the class, I am going to do that version using the leftover silk knit from this dress. It will be a perfect top to wear under blazer jackets. 

Coming up soon, a tunic top that I made from some very precious Milly fabric I ordered from Gorgeous Fabric. Precious as I ordered a very small amount on a whim and once it was in my hands it had to be a long-sleeve tunic top. As Tim Gunn says - I made it work.

Aloha and happy sewing, Beth

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