Friday, May 22, 2015

Vogue 1236 DKNY, first dress of summer in rayon jersey panel print

Like the title says, this is the first dress of summer. But the weather is not cooperating. It's Memorial Day here in the US on Monday which means a three day weekend and the official start of summer, but it never seems to reflect that. It might even rain tonight. If only!
But I did make my first dress of summer. It qualifies as a summer item because it is rayon jersey, super comfortable to wear and sleeveless.
Before I get to the details, I have to say that this simple pattern illustrates why I really like Vogue patterns. Perhaps love Vogue patterns. Small details that go together well and result in a very pleasing garment. Of course this is a designer pattern so it is a copy of the designer's original work. But the very fact that they make these patterns is really fantastic. Plus you know my obsession with most all these Donna Karan patterns and this is another winner.

My outdoor shots of this item are mostly not good, so I will start with a dress form picture. Super simple dress but I just find it very flattering. The the width of the straps, shape of the neckline, the pleating are all very proportional and make a nice shape. This post has a lot of pics for a simple item, but if you like fitting details read on.

dress front V1236

Pattern envelope. I am quite late to the party on this one as it is from 2011 but still in print so it must sell. I suppose this is the actual designer dress but certainly not a color I would choose. This fabric almost looks like pillowcase ticking to me, maybe it is seersucker. I kind of played around with the pattern pieces and decided a drapey fabric was the way to go. Sometimes dresses with those release type pleats over the bust can get very poofy in a fabric that is not soft or drapey.

V1236 env

And on the left without the belt. I figured you might want to see how full it is. Almost a barrel shape, the waist is the widest part and then it tapers in a bit at the hemline. So in a cotton sateen or seersucker which were fabrics I considered it would really puff out. In a silk crepe or charmeuse it would be very nice. Fabric choice - it is a learning curve and I have been at it a while :)

dress unbelted V1236dress back V1236

So how was the fit? OK, I will use one of my weirdly lit outdoor photos. Overexposed on the top half but you can get the idea. Take note of the neckline. I think it is nice and hits at just the right point for comfort and wearability.  More on that below.

V1236 knit karan 4

What did I like about sewing this pattern? In a word: Facings! I know that facings get a LOT of criticism in sewing blogs I read, people seem to hate them, but I don't see why. And this pattern has a very well designed facing ( a lot of the designer patterns seem to have nice facings). So here is a look at the inside of the dress. I used a knit jersey for the facings, it is the same fabric I use for a lot of knits where I want to put a lining in all or part of the dress.

inside front facingsV1236 side view armhole

The facing is curved, and is one piece across the front and then the back, so the armhole is enclosed in the facing. I am not a fan of bias binding, particularly on wovens as I don't think you can get the smooth and flat armhole or other edges with bias binding that you can achieve with a facing. Which is under stitched. Important point!
Just to show you why this pattern goes together well, and to promote facings, here are the pertinent steps from the instructions. This is the method I use almost always on a dress with no zipper. If the dress has a center back seam then I can use the same facing, or full lining and pull through at the shoulder seams. I think this method illustrated here puts people off because they don't want to do any hand sewing?  But I like it because you can tweak that shoulder seam and adjust if needed. I sometimes need to take up things there just a smidge and this allows for that little adjustment.

V1236 Instructions for facings

How about fit? I used my usual Vogue size 12 and graded out a bit at the hips to a 14 which worked out as I prefer things to be floaty not clingy. But I pinned together the paper pattern pieces to check the neckline and saw that the neckline would be quite low and the armholes also, so I shortened the bodice in that area. I know it seems a never-ending challenge but fitting is all about knowing where to adjust as well as how much. I pleated out from the back 2 inches total and shortened the upper bodice 1.25 inches which turned out to be just right. Not always easy to tell with the pattern tissue. You may wonder why I didn't just take it up at the shoulders? because then the back neckline moves up that amount and to keep the same curves I do the shortening below the neckline. Also then you aren't messing with the width of the shoulder seam.

V1236 pattern alterations2

One thing to note is that I probably should have added back the amount I shortened at the hemline. As it is I made a half inch hem. So not much to work with. But I am happy with the length. In fact I have been looking at some of my other dresses and perhaps some hems are a bit too long, making me look shorter? Hmm. something I will have to play around with.

Last but not least, this fabric print was a bit crazy. I bought it at Joann's for under $ 12, last summer maybe? and it has taunted me with that repeating panel print for a while. I kept taking it out and playing around with t-shirt patterns but nothing grabbed me. So in desperation to try out this dress I decided to try and turn it into a border print. Reasonable success. It is not entirely centered but the width of the panels didn't allow for that in a dress.
knit fabric on floor

So nothing spectacular but the very definition of an easy-breezy summer dress in black and white with a touch of turquoise. I would say I might even repeat it, or maybe for one of my "same size as me" pals. Too many other new patterns to play with and some Girl Charlee knits that have been staring at me as I pass the spare bedroom. (where all purchases get tossed on the bed until guests come and I have to madly scramble to stash away)

V1236 DKNY knit dress

Thanks for all the NY Fabric shopping advice you left on my last post. much appreciated and I wish it was me planning to spend some quality shopping time in the Big Apple.

As for Instagram, I have stuck with it for a week and it is kind of growing on me. If you take a look at my feed you will see Laura who was my sewing student last weekend. She was here in the bay area from her home in Switzerland for almost two weeks of work meetings, so she took the opportunity to spend 2 days of sewing with me. It was so much fun to meet her (re-meet her, we actually met in 2012 at this meet up, a picture of Laura and Karen in the middle of that post). Anyway - we did fitting of a coat and a dress, covered the ins and outs of collar and lapels by making a test version, talked interfacing, bound buttonholes, sewing with silk and wool, tailoring tools and all kinds of sewing chat. I can't wait to see what she makes next!

Happy weekend sewing and a good Memorial Day weekend to everyone in the US.


Lots of garden photos this time of year, this is a Nicotiana that survived the winter in a pot. Such a great color.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Random Threads # 13 - a little bit of everything

Hello and what's new? For 2015 I have been on quite a roll but that last dress stopped me short. Thank you for all the nice comments, however it has been sitting on my dressform for the past two weeks and it is not growing on me. I just don't like that fabric so this one may go directly to the donation pile.  Which is a bit disappointing as I always liked that pattern. Oh well, can't win 'em all.
Onwards to the next thing.

I suppose also I have been feeling a bit out of sorts - waiting for summer to be here for real - and some other stuff happening - and thinking I have so many things in my closet that it is quite ridiculous to make anything new. So I marinated in that sour mood for about a week, the other issues happily resolved,  and I have snapped out of whatever funk I was in and am ready to charge through a lot of new patterns. New to me, at least.  Some are actually a few years old but I have been wanting to make them. (Although see first paragraph and note where that got me :)

New Patterns:
As usual I looked through all the new releases and didn't see anything I wanted/needed on first glance. Oops, not true - Vogue 1448 DKNY (my favorite pattern designer) grabbed me immediately and I have already bought it plus have the required yardage (it takes quite a lot for a knee length dress).  But that was the only one....or so I thought. Never fails, I go back a day or two later and look more closely, finding a few more, some not necessarily new but next sale I will most likely buy.


Is it just me or is there just a lot of sameness? Usually I see something in Simplicity that I really like or find useful as a jumping off point for redesign. They have discontinued what I think are some of their best patterns which is too bad.

DKNY challenge:
Now that I said I would make the dress shown above - I was looking through my Vogues and realize I have at least 5 other DKNY pattern that I adored at the time but have not made - so I am going to challenge myself to make at least 3 this summer. One is already done. A sneak peak is visible on...

I dunno. I joined, I uploaded one image. Probably will continue when I have something fun to share.I really like reading blogs. really really really.  Everyone please keep blogging. WRITING. I love to read. Images are great but the sentences people write alongside their images - in long form - make me love the online sewing community. So keep writing, fellow stitchers! please.
Also on a different note - Instagram kind of creeps me out. It is so bossy. Upload! Follow! Share! you only upload using your phone, not computer which means other cameras are out unless you upload those images to your photo stream. So...many....rules. plus owned by Facebook and I think FB are the evil empire (business-wise) and also creepy, bossy, annoying. What is it about Facebook that annoys me so much? Mostly the co-mingling and blurring of the intersection of commerce and friendship.
Enough editorializing for today.

Social Sewing:
Saturday I went to our Bay Area Sewists Meetup group which was a pattern exchange. Success: I brought 5 patterns and came away with only 1. Afterwards the group usually descends en masse on StoneMountain and Daughter for shopping. Here is me and Laura (blog Lilacs and Lace) standing between the rayons and silks. I bought two knits but didn't stay to see what she got. She has a very funny post on her blog now about the difference between the pattern envelope drawings and reality. They should use her on the vintage reproductions - she looks better than their models!  My top is McCalls 7046 and my green corduroy skirt is Vogue 1170 which is a super cute skirt and now I have a top that matches. Back of the closet for the win!

me and Laura at Stone Mountain

Print, Pattern, Bright Colors:
So as we were shopping I had some fabrics in my arms and someone from the meeting walked by and said "wow, you really like loud fabrics".   Yes I really do like bright colors, prints, vibrant shades. I have a hard time understanding wanting to wear dark colors or black/grey all the time. But that choice of phrase made Laura and I laugh. OK I am guilty as charged. I call them bright, happy, vibrant, lively, but loud can also describe. Would the reverse be to say "hey, you wear really drab fabrics?" It has taken me a long time to get to a point where I understand that everyone has different taste - what one person loves another thinks is horrible - and that means a lot of designers, merchants, departments, styles can all exist and find their niche or customer base. But I still think that everyone has some colors that can look really great on them and most of the time grey/black/beige don't do a lot of favors.  ( although I will concede that the right item in black can be fabulous and it does make a good base for a travel wardrobe) Come to think of it, most who make their own clothes seem to explore the color wheel and I think it is my non-sewing friends and colleagues that purchase their wardrobe that default to solids and dark colors. Probably for the very reason that it is easier to mix and match, dress up or down. Thank goodness for sewing.

Fabric Shopping in NY:
Advice needed. Not for me, I wish!  My friend and muse Heather who I sew for is going to NY in June and will definitely have some time so she wants to go fabric shopping. In the September 2014 Issue of Threads magazine # 174 there is a great article on fabric shopping in NY so I will give that to her but I would love any recommendations. She is not a sewer so stores where they give you some help would be good. In the article two stores sounded a bit like Britex in SF where we shop frequently (NY Elegant Fabrics and B&J Fabrics) but any feedback before mid-June would be appreciated. One of these years I will get back to New York and hopefully both shop and meet up with my east coast on-line sewing pals. Who I have mostly not met with the exception of Kyle :) so lots to look forward to someday.  

anyway - NY fabric shopping recommendations - chime in. On that or any of the other topics that came out of my keyboard tonight.

Happy Sewing, Beth

oh, things are blooming around here, tomatoes are planted, lemons are pollinated and water is being judiciously applied in the garden.

Apple blossoms, just about finished and the little songbirds have started nesting in the tree.

apple blossom

Friday, May 1, 2015

New Look 6087 wrap dress: pattern nice, fabric not

The title says it all - this is really a great pattern but I am unsatisfied with the outcome entirely due to fabric choice. I do like the colors but the print seems very old lady to me, and also poly ITY knits are just not my favorite. I think this is just the 3rd item in this type of fabric that I now own. One is a dress that has been worn a few times, and another is a top that I really like - only due to the Simplicity pattern and color.
And this is such a great pattern! I have been meaning to sew it up forever - or at least since it was issued. I have used the pattern to make a wrap dress for my friend Heather, and recommended it to others but just never got around to it for myself. So I impulsively bought this fabric one day at Joann's on super sale, thus a smallish investment (around $ 10) and figured I would give it a try.
Here is the final version, after some rethinking of the design elements as I went along.

NL dress on me

Here is the pattern envelope and tech drawing. The details of the design are kind of obscured by the busy print.

NL 6097 pattern rec

I started out by cutting out the sleeves, thinking I might make elbow length or short sleeves, but it seemed very geriatric looking. And for some reason the collar bugged me as well so you can see I took that off also. Which was annoying as I had already finished the binding but it wasn't too bad to remove.

First Versions: with frumpy sleeves options and then still with collar. Not sure what I have against short sleeves on dresses. As they are fine on tops and t-shirts but somehow on dresses I prefer either long sleeves or sleeveless.
blue ity dress with sleevesblue ity dress without sleeves

And lastly I did some shaping on the armholes. It might not show in these pictures but I cut them it at the shoulder a good inch.  Scroll back up and look at the first picture, and imagine the shoulders coming out further - if you make sleeveless dresses I suggest that you don't just go with the shape of the armhole - customize it to fit your frame.

NL wrap dress front2NL wrap dress back

View of finished bodice. I put a small 1/4 inch self fabric binding on the armholes. It looks a bit drapey at the bottom of the bodice and it is slightly but I wanted it to blouse a bit above the waist. In the other photos I tried a blue leather belt but maybe that breaks it up a bit. I had enough fabric to make a tie belt as well.

NL wrap front closeup

Fit notes on this pattern:  My usual obsession - back waist length. Which some people have inquired as to how to do this on yourself. I made a quick muslin of just the top half of the dress. If I do make a muslin for a dress, usually I just make the top half, unless the whole dress is quite complicated to fit. Because for me all the trouble, such as width of neckline and length of bodice can be worked out with   minimum effort. I am all about minimum effort (well sometimes).

For this dress it was a good idea, as despite looking like a perfect fit on paper, the V-neck is often a trap for new players! Too low, and then you are stuck with a cami.

NL wrap muslin

So I raised the skirt in the center back a good two inches, and them tapered back to zero near the center front.  I think the pattern said to sew a channel at the waist and add elastic, which I did. Photo below is the finished dress, so if I had not removed some length from the back bodice I think it would have been very droopy.

NL wrap dress side pocket copy

So that's the scoop on New Look 6087. Maybe I will wear it before the weather turns oven-like, which judging by our 90˚F weather today will be very soon.

And look and this is typical of my usual attempts to take photos for my blog. I am a blinker! Does anyone else have the problem? Please ignore the patchy lawn and enjoy the blooms behind me.

This weekend I have no idea what I will be sewing - so many items on wish list. It just might be a dress as I feel the need for a winner!

Happy weekend sewing,  Beth

Nl  dress on me 2

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Paisley and poplin: Simplicity shirt with a difference

Another week, another shirt. I have resisted adding more dresses to my overflowing wardrobe and made another shirt using Simplicity 2339. This shirt was completed about two weeks ago and I haven't had a chance to post since - although happily I did wear it twice. The fabric is a nice weight of cotton poplin with a touch of lycra. I confess I mostly reach for woven items that have lycra these days, whether pants, shirts or skirts, that lycra makes them so comfortable and reduces the wrinkling to an amazing degree.

Today will be a very lazy day, as I have just returned from a business trip to Philadelphia (2nd time there in 4 months) and brought back with me a very severe cold and sore throat. Anyone else dread the airplane germ?  I am likely to get sick after airplane travel - probably about 20% of the time. Not a tragedy on the return trip but so aggravating on the outbound direction, I have sniffled through a tropical vacay and frequented the various European pharmacies seeking all kinds of over the counter remedies. Anyway - it is raining today (!!! my garden is so happy) so it's a good day to lay on the couch, catch up on my tivo recordings and do some sewing planning and organization. I have been woefully slow with a new Pattern Whisperer post. What should I tackle now that spring is here? Dresses? Perhaps knit tops? I think I will put both in the works.

paisley shirt on form

This fabric might be too much for those of you who shy away from wild prints or colors but it fits into my bright wardrobe. Now that it is complete I see that I need a turquoise denim skirt and have a scrap remaining from another project that is hopefully just enough for Vogue 1247.

At this point I don't have too much to say about this pattern. It is a basic collared shirt that is adaptable to a variety of fabrics. A Simplicity Amazing Fit pattern which means it comes with the various cup sizes although it is not very fitted. Most times I change the hem to a curved shirttail hem, and change up the placket. In fact I have never made it as the pattern comes, with the sewn on button placket. First time in silk charmeuse I made a hidden buttonhole placket and then the other times I have made what I call a "one-piece cut-on placket. Which is a name I made up, not sure if it has an official title, but the shirt front is extended at the center front line to incorporate the fabric that would be in the placket, folded back to make the stitched tuck where the edge of the fabric is enclosed. I keep planning to show how I do this. It involves some measuring and three-dimensional thinking (what else is new in sewing, right?) but the result is a super clean finish with no bulk. Very ready-to-wear which is actually how I had the idea.

enclosed seam on placket

Do you like that crisp collar and stand? I think this is my most Pinterest-ed post from this blog, the method to do the collar and stand.  I use this every time and really like the way it turns out, plus the juncture of the shirt top and the bottom of the collar stand is not bulky as it can be using other methods.
Another change in this shirt is that I rotated the side bust dart into shoulder gathers. In cottons or silk this turns out so well and would be great for a plaid so that you don't have to worry about difficulty in matching on the side seams. Last year I watched the Craftsy class, One Pattern, Many Looks: Blouses and I highly recommend it. The instructor has a very good teaching style, I got a lot of new-to-me tips and if you are interested in pattern drafting but don't want to start from the sloper but instead see how to manipulate existing patterns this is a great class. I did this Craftsy post last summer on the dart manipulation.

collar 1

paisley shirt on me 2

this is probably how I will wear this shirt, with sleeves rolled up.

paisley sleeves rolled_edt

Play spot the difference in this photo above. (Ok I will tell you, the garden lights which are on a timer came on as I was taking pictures, and thus reminded me that clock leap forward means they need to be adjusted)

Sleeve placket

For that reason I like to make the tower placket a bit long, or as least as long as the cuff so that it is easy to roll up. And in this instance I finally shortened the sleeves, which were too long in my last version of this shirt. However I might have taken away too much (two inches) so I had to make a slightly bigger cuff. Note for next time!

Ok and now a final view - what a dork! Why am I standing like that?  and the shirt is buttoned slightly wonky so the bottom is uneven. But it matches my new pants perfectly :) Purchased pants - oh how happy buying pants makes me - no fitting required. But always hemming.

paisley shirt on me_edt

So that's the latest around here. Feast your eyes on all that greenery, my lovely roses are in full bloom, the pink jasmine is wafting a gorgeous scent across the yard and a few tulips are still blooming. I just bought some more drought tolerant plants yesterday so hopefully things will keep looking good through the dry months ahead.

Time to curl up on the couch with my box of kleenex and another cup of coffee. I always think the idea of tea sounds so nice, especially when you are sick, but I confess, to my tastebuds, tea is yuck!
Coffee is my beverage of choice, and in any mode, candy, ice cream, cookies, whatever. Coffee is as essential as water to me.

Up next, finish the New Look dress mentioned a few weeks ago and then I will start in on some of the new patterns I have accumulated. I even bought one yesterday, Vogue 1448 . The pattern suggests silk, voile, matte jersey so a lot of possibilities. I does take 3 or 4 yards which is quite a bit for a sleeveless knee length dress so time to dive into my fabric closet and see what is available.

Happy weekend sewing, Beth

By the way, if you would like to see the other versions of this pattern I have sewn here are the links.

Silk charmeuse
Cotton voile
Plaid flannel
Interlock knit

Friday, April 10, 2015

McCalls 7046 T-shirt : a sort of new pattern for a change

Hey I sewed up a new pattern! To be precise, a not so old pattern. I think it was the McCalls release previous to the most recent one, and I bought it on impulse. Actually I tried to improvise this ruched side seam t-shirt a while ago and the result was ok, but sometimes it is so nice and simple to buy the exact pattern.

dot tshirt front McCalls 7046

I am really happy that I tried this pattern. Kind of cute, huh?

dot shirt on form

I got this knit fabric at a Bay area Sewist Meetup group a few months ago, so basically free. Not sure what is the fabric composition but it feels like 100% cotton interlock knit.

neckline of dot t-shirt McCalls 7046

I don't recall what the neck finish was on the pattern instructions (because I never follow them) but for a cotton interlock t-shirt I think the neckline band finish looks the best.  In this old post about t-shirts there is a link to a video on the Threads magazine site that explains it so clearly. The stripe looks a bit swoopy in the center top but it doesn't seem that way when worn, I think it is a slight optical illusion of the dotty stripe.

Now with this close up of the top do you see my slight mistake? I was trying very hard to match the stripes for the sleeves, and using the aqua row as my match line, but obviously not paying attention otherwise as the fabric is upside down on the sleeves. But I never even noticed until I looked at this photo. So hopefully not really noticeable.

Here is the pattern envelope, with a print mostly obscuring the pattern detail, of course!

McCalls 7046 pattern envelope

McCalls 7046 tech drawing

and the drawing. The more I look at it the more I like the dress version with the single layer ruffle skirt - but sleeveless for summer. I have some oddball knit jersey that might be just right for this.

Super simple pattern and some interesting details about the fit. I rarely make McCalls patterns but every once in a while. The only other knit top I have made with McCalls is this one which I have made three times. It is kind of big in the size 12, I had to take it up at the shoulders to get it to fit so very roomy. Some fitting details on that pattern in this post . I wonder if it is roomy because it is a Palmer and Pletsch for McCalls pattern, and those patterns are designed for fitting adjustments. Don't get me wrong, their patterns are sometimes a bit frumpy on the envelope but actually quite good and even though they require going through the fitting steps (for most people) the result is a nice.

Anyway, I was expecting McCalls roominess in the neck and shoulders and this pattern is not like that. At all! No wiggle room, and I was lucky that it fit but it is not at all like a typical Big 4 t-shirt pattern, at least to my experience. Also I cut it out with an extra inch down the full length of the side seams front and back because I like to fit on the fly. I ended up taking away most all of that above the waist and keeping it around the hips but that is my typical pattern adjustment. I saw a review that the top came out too small for the person who sewed it, and it very clearly states the finished bust measurement is less than the pattern size bust measure by about an inch. So that is negative ease, people. Beware! If your knit is not very stretchy or you don't want the super clingy look then adjust accordingly. For a t-shirt I don't like things to be super tight, so you might think my version looks too loose but I prefer it that way. And ignore the fit on the dress form - that thing has no hips whatsoever.

The side seam gathers could not be easier, just a piece of elastic sewn on the side seam. I actually used their elastic guide and it was perfect. another plus for this pattern.

dot shirt side view McCalls 7046

Final note - completely construction on my regular machine, straight stitch. I am just not a serger sewer - only for seam finishing. Although I would like to have the machine that sews the knit hems, is that the coverstitch? but in the scheme of things not really important.

Another look, and a few tulips in the background. Plus the sad drought-stricken lawn. We have to save our water for important things around here - like the swimming pool. Does that sound awful? but hey, California, what are you going to do?

tshirt dots

Also I just finished another t-shirt and and I am putting the cuffs on a woven shirt so it is the season of tops.

Happy weekend sewing, and I hope things are starting to look like spring for everyone.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Random Threads #12: stuff in progress and how sewing lessons work

What, April already? So trite to say but this year is flying by. I am kind of flitting around in my sewing projects, nothing much planned and that is fine by me. It impresses me when people do a big seasonal planning of their sewing, or a wardrobe revamp, or deep analysis of what they want to have. Not me, I just sew up whatever strikes my fancy. Once in a while I decide I need something particular, like a dressy winter coat, or maybe an outfit for a certain occasion, but for the most part I just finish one project and look around to see what can come next.

What has come next was a pattern that I have had for a long time, I even recommended it in my Pattern Whisperer post for daytime and work dresses, which is New Look 6097. Sewn up by a lot of people to great success. I am still on the fence for my version, entirely due to fabric choice. About every two years I sew something using ITY knit and so far have never liked it. Must remember to skip the poly knits!  Is ITY knit always polyester? Seems like. I really love rayon jersey so I will stick with that for the future. Anyway - here are my version(s) of that New Look pattern. I started with long sleeves - decided that was a mistake, went for short, decided that looked dowdy, tried much shorter sleeves, still not working. Took off the sleeves and liked it better. The final version will have another change and I might get to that this weekend.

Mostly it is down to fabric choice - kind of a "what was I thinking" selection. Was on super sale at Joann's so cost about $ 12 - and I had that very nice matching belt already. I love the blues but it is just not doing it for me. Maybe when finished and it is a nice warm spring day I will like it :) Stay tuned.

blue ity dress with sleevesblue ity dress without sleeves

NL 6097 pattern rec

My friend Michelle had a birthday recently and I generally sew something for her. As mentioned before she is just about the same size as me so it is a "cut and sew" operation to make something for her. I decided that a floaty tunic top would be different as I have made knit dresses and a knit top previously.

Red tunic

I used the pattern I designed last summer when I made a tunic top for myself. Which I am very much looking forward to wearing again since the weather is warming - I only wore that once last year in Hawaii before autumn.
I had thought about putting a contrast fabric on the yoke but everything I tried looked odd, so I used the self fabric and added trim which is soutache braid (red) and bias tape turned into piping (white). Have you ever used that soutache braid before? It is really fun to work with, and I have to say kind of easy. It behaves well and steamed into place for curves or corners. I first used it when I made this vintage dress - also red! The fabric for this tunic top is a lovely cotton voile I found at Stone Mountain.
.Red tunic closeup

Sewing lessons - or more accurately sewing instruction. I get questions about my sewing "classes" so I thought I would just write a few words about what I do. It usually starts with someone emailing me after reading here and asking how it all works.
It starts with the individual and what they want in terms of sewing instruction. I don't teach a specific class, we just schedule a day or days and I teach whatever you want to learn.  Here are a few typical scenarios.

  • Fit a basic pattern. We would talk beforehand about fit issues, what might be previous issues with fit or what makes a good dress pattern. I suggest some basic dress or other patterns that we can choose from, we take measurements, look at the pattern, do some flat pattern fitting adjustments, cut out and sew up a muslin, adjust that muslin, then transfer the adjusted muslin back to the paper pattern. At this point we are usually exhausted :)  That is a full day usually, and at that point my suggestion is to for the student to make a second muslin at home to see how all the changes fit - usually quite well. This same process applies for anything else, like a jacket, shirt, skirt etc (but I confess not pants, just not my area). 
  • Technique: it can be anything from cutting out and marking a pattern to how to get a perfect lapel. I love the technical side of sewing but the majority of my students have be interested in fitting - no surprise there as it is something we all deal with. How and where to use all the different interfacings, and why. How to press and what tools are helpful. Zippers, buttonholes and my favorite: welt pockets. 
  • Pattern and fabric: Sometimes we have spent an hour analyzing patterns and discussing why certain patterns might be better for one figure or another, which patterns are good for various levels whether beginner, intermediate or advanced. Why certain patterns are more simple to fit and adjust than others. What about ease? is it a conspiracy put over by the pattern companies? Answer: no.  What size to start with? that is a good one and just like bras many people are starting with the wrong size. I love it when someone brings a bag of patterns and garments so I can see what has been going on in their sewing room and hopefully give some suggestions or ideas for their next projects. 
So those are some of the things I have covered in teaching sewing during these past few years. Plus lots of sewing talk - since we now are all connected via the sewing web and have all kind of friends in common - even though most of them we have never met in person! 

Up next, finish that dress, I completed a couple of cute t-shirts which I will show soon, including McCalls 7046 which I just might have to repeat in the sassy dress version.

Happy Easter and happy spring sewing, Beth

today's garden photo, one of the first tulips.

Pink tulip

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

a new Green Shirt for St. Patrick's day

To my surprise I have not seen one green item in my reading of sewing blogs today. I suppose St. Patrick's day is considered another goofy holiday and excuse to drink beer but with my heritage it is the real deal. Having visited the farm in Ireland where my grandfather was born (which is still in the family) I can attest to the fact that you have not seen green until you have been to Ireland. Dazzling in hue and variation.
So that means I will wear something green and here is this year's item. I got this knit fabric at a Bay Area sewing meet-up fabric swap earlier this year and figured it would be good for trying out a t-shirt or something. But last week I had the idea to make a regular collared shirt - but in knit instead of woven.

Here it is, and while it has a few quirks I am quite happy with the result - super comfortable and I love the color.

green shirt front

OK first off let's just note that there are no buttons down the front. Yes. I took the easy way out. I had made it with a placket front, and then in the trying on and fitting process, when I was pinning the front together I had a minor revelation - knit shirt - no fastenings needed! I can pull it over my head. So I just sewed it together in the front, overlapping as if it were buttoned. So lazy and yet it worked out fine. I may just sew up another of these knit-y shirts. Also I forgot to put interfacing in the placket and buttonholes + knit fabric with no stabilization = very unsightly buttonholes. Maybe I should sew on some buttons but I think why bother? In fact the next one may have a placket at the neck like a tunic top.
What pattern?  My trusty Simplicity 2339 Amazing fit shirt, which I have made 3 times before, flannel version, cotton voile version, silk charmeuse version. How's that for versatility? And this has to be one of the most hideous pattern envelope versions. Fine, let's just stipulate that most pattern envelope photos are terrible. The ones that are good looking are actually the minority. My suggestion - LOOK past the styling - study the technical drawings. I was just talking about this over the past weekend. That probably people who are newer to sewing do use the photo of the actual garment to base their choices on, whether for good or bad. I try to ignore (or scoff at) the photos, whether indie or Big 4/Burda and just use the drawings to decide on a pattern.

Blue silk blouse pattern S2339

Back view. I did do quite extensive fitting alterations once I had the side seams basted together, realizing it was way too big for a knit shirt (but works fine for a non-stretch flannel). So I took it in about 2 inches on each side seam, narrowed the sleeve by 2 inches, and moved the shoulder seam in about 3/8".  Now that it is done I am not 100% happy with the bust dart placement, could maybe be a little lower but whatever, I can live with it.
green shirt back

I used a lightweight cotton for the cuffs and collar stand as I always see these cute shirts with mixed prints or accent fabrics and wanted to try it out. Making those sleeve plackets is not that bad, it's like buttonholes or zippers, once you do it a few times it goes really quick. And as you can see I could probably narrow the cuffs for my smallish wrists but I just move the buttons to where it fits better. Note to self, the sleeves are a bit long and I still haven't shortened the pattern. Probably because of my extra short arms I am used to all sleeves being too long and never even think about it. Duh!

green shirt cuff

Things are green around here but I had to actually water some plants over the weekend  - it's going be a cruel summer.....

me in green shirt

Happy St. Patrick's Day and happy sewing, 

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