Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rok'n Color Block

Just a quick post this morning. I have some time before I have to catch the train to Philadelphia.   Unfortunately, it is a business trip. No time for visiting the Phila fabric district.  I can work on the train. There is internet access, though it fades in and out in some areas. And there is the exciting whole train jerk, when they switch the engines from diesel to electric in Washington, DC.

I have done a small bit of sewing in the past month. One project was influenced by two style details that caught my attention in fashion magazines  and online.

 1. Tops with deep  V shaped inserts of contrast fabrics or colors.

2. The color blocking of  Roksanda.

I had a remnant of  the  lightweight wool lycra I used for my culottes project. Just enough for a simple short sleeve top. And a  piece of aqua silk for a contrast V inset.   I wanted a boxy semi fitted top that ended near the waist. Burda magazine has had several patterns for tops like this  (without the V inert)  but when I made muslins of them, they did not give me the look I wanted.  While browsing Etsy for old sewing patterns, I found the perfect pattern.  But I  waffled before buying it, afraid that even with modern fabrics and colors it might look dated. 

Yes, it call for shoulder pads.  One of the things I have learned about my body in my fitting journey, is that my shoulders, though a bit narrow than norm, are very square.  I have to make adjustments for this when using current patterns.  But not on older patterns designed for shoulder pads. I just leave out the shoulder pads and I have a perfect fit.  What makes me cringe is imagining what I must have looked like with shoulder pads on square shoulders back in the late 80's, early 90's. Eeeuuu!

Any way, I am happy with the resulting top. No changes to the pattern except to crop at high hip length. No shoulder pads and no zipper. It easily pulls over my head.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Window Dressing

It is startling to see your blog on a blog roll with 1 month under it. Has it been that long?

I have been sewing.  I converted 26 yards of printed drapery fabric and  24 yards of block out lining  into ceiling to floor  length,  pinch pleated draperies for 2  90“ wide windows.  Sewing curtains is not terribly hard. There are lots of great tutorials on line if you are interested.  I find the initial measuring and cutting of panels the toughest part because of the pattern repeats and the need for careful pattern matching.  The sewing of the hems, header and linings is mind numbing   But it has to be done to have custom drapes at a reasonable cost.  I would rather spend my decorating dollars on fine furniture or unique artwork.  


Shipped on a tube - Free Postage

 I did take a couple of  classes.  A pant fitting class with Rae Cumbie of  Fit For Art Patterns  using her Eureka Pants that Fit pattern.
Eureka! Pants that Fit Pattern
It  comes in sizes  XXS-3XL (soon to be expanded into larger sizes) and has three different back pattern piece choices to improve the fitting process, one each for flat, regular and curvy derrieres.. My back pattern piece was the flat one.  That was no surprise. RTW pants and most patterns always have way too much fabric in the back end and upper thighs.  I made a muslin of the pants in the class which was used for fitting. I transferred the fitting changes to the pattern pieces, but have not had a chance to make a pair out of good fabric.

I took a Nuno felting class at a local art center and made a scarf and collar from wool roving and silk lace scraps. It was interesting class,  and quite a upper body workout. I took the class  with the idea of someday making vests and jackets with this technique.  I am not a scarf wearer. The instructor styled our scarves and took pictures of them. She has some wicked Photoshop skills. There was all kinds of looms and yarn in the background of the original picture.

Then the sewing machine dealer where I bought my sewing machine back in Jan. announced a  multi week class on using the 6D Embroidery Software. Since the software was a significant part of  the cost of the sewing machine, I reluctantly decided I better take the classes while they were offered. I am happy to say that embroidery software has improved immensely in function and ease of use since the early 90’s, when I got my first embroidery machine and quickly lost interest after embroidering trucks and action figures on my sons’ T shirts.  The type of embroidery I am inspired to do on garments is shown in the pictures below. It will require digitizing my own designs. I have a lot of learning to do.

Anthropology dress with embroidered overlay

Carolina Herrera
Vita Kin
Vita Kin

Carolina Herrera 
 And one last thing. I had to laugh when I saw these designs by Moschino on the Net a Porter web site

I am especially amused by the shirt and skirt.  I wonder what the inspiration was?  I  collect letterpress printer's blocks and stamps. I have one that was  once used by a dry cleaning business. Looks very similar to the shirt and skirt.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Burda Wrap Top

 When I was making the culottes, that I blogged about in my last post, I looked on the Internet for different way to style them.  I even planned a mini SWAP storyboard around the culottes.  Below is one of my inspiration collages.

The top in the middle is very similar to this one in the Burda Style May 2014 magazine.  Wrap tank with pockets

The inspiration top is a faux crossover ( angles of armhole opening do not match neckline angles)  and the bottom front corners are sharp rather than curved, but the look was very similar.

This style was so different than what I usually wear, I realized the finished garment ran a serious risk of being a closet shut in. But I decided to sew it anyway. I am always up for trying a new style.  This top was a fair amount of work because of the welt  pockets with flaps, and the back pleats. It is lined in the front and has a facing for the back armholes and neck opening. Plus I did a lot of tweaking in the shoulder ( my problem area)  and armhole area to get a close fit.   On the plus side this top has no closures. It truly is a pull over the head top.  


The  fabric is cotton, purchased from Walmart. It had the colors I needed for my SWAP and a polka dot type print similar to the inspiration top.  I actually like the way the top looks and feels while worn.    If you choose to wear a bra with this top, it has to be either strapless or one where the  straps attach to the cups above the apex rather that toward the sides. Or the straps show in the front armhole. Only one of my many bras worked with this top.

Burda top 5 2014 132
Burda Culottes 4 2015 113 

I also like this top with jeans. I took this picture in the now finished and painted family room.  All construction work is done, but we are currently suffering from sticker shock at the cost of replacing the 20 year old carpet.

Burda top 5 2014 132

There will be no sewing this Holiday weekend.  We are driving  to PA to visit relatives and have a nice dinner to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Yes, 36 years ago DH and I got married in a civil ceremony, in the Justice of the Peace's office in Wilkinsburg, a suburb of Pittsburgh.   Pictures taken that day in the JOP's office remind me of the " American slice of life" paintings  by Norman Rockwell. The formally dressed wedding party sitting stiffly in one corner of the  waiting room. A handyman  is replacing the large plate glass window of the waiting room which had been broken the night before. And in the other corner, a small group of  casually dressed older women, all  with pink foam curlers in their hair. Isn't it funny what you remember from your wedding day.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Cullotes and Construction

My latest sewing projects are a pair of culottes and a jacket. I wore culottes many years ago and remember liking them a lot.  The patterns is from Burda 4 2015, pattern 113.

Burda 4 2015 113

The fabric is a tropical weight wool blend, 97% Wool 3% Lycra purchased from Roz at Sew Much Fabric . It is a lightweight fabric with some body, which was the Burda fabric recommendation. This pattern has deep pleats in the front and the longest darts I have ever seen in the back. They actually ends below butt level. They look okay though.

The culottes are definitely comfortable to wear. For some reason the "legs" of my culottes look much wider than those in the magazine pictures. Ah well, perhaps because I am shorter and wider than most models. The waistband is about 2" high which is great if you want to wear cropped tops without flashing skin. I made a semi fitted, waist length jacket to wear with these culottes. The linen print fabric was also purchased from SMF. The colors, white, gray and a light chartreuse (greenish yellow) are so fresh and calming. I liked everything about this fabric. The pattern is one of many McCall's NY NY Collection patterns in my stash. They all have garments which were a little different from the popular styles back in the 1990's, when they were issued, so I think that saves them from reeking heavily of that era.
McCall's 8611
Cropped tops seem to be very popular now. Ror the last couple years, Burda magazines has had patterns for many of them,  but they are all too boxy for my narrow shoulders and the shapelessness overwhelms my top half. My "over 55 years old" interpretation of this trend is a semi fitted, cropped at the waist top, like this jacket.  The jacket is unlined. I serged all the edges of the garment pieces to prevent raveling. This jacket was a fast, fun sew.

Burda 4 2015 113
What is the  construction in the blog title?  DH has been working every weekend for the last month, removing the dark paneling in our 35 X 15 ft. dungeon   family room and replacing it with wallboard. My weekend sewing, cooking, cleaning activities were constantly interrupted to help him bring in wallboard from the truck, or hold it in place while he screwed it to the studs. I was only too happy to help. Next we get to do the fun stuff like picking out paint colors and buying new furniture. Anyone want a 35 year old sleeper sofa?

 Using the wallboard as a backdrop for my pictures also serves the purpose of showing other family members where we are on the project. And I liked the purple color or the waterproof wall board. ( near a shower)
Something is not level. Yeah, the sawhorse the camera is sitting on.
No more dark paneling!


Monday, April 6, 2015


Have you ever been fascinated by something because of its ugliness or because something seems off- kilter about it.

"He had a big head and a face so ugly it became almost fascinating."   Ayn Rand

Vogue pattern 9096 is like that for me.

Vogue 9096

I like the faced rounded shapes on the jacket. But their placement on only one side seems a bit heavy (especially on the longer jacket)  and the square bottom corner of the LHS  is jarring to me.  I like asymmetric designs, but they have to flow in some way. Is it just me or does anyone else find this design unbalanced? 

There was no sample jacket of View A on the Vogue website. Just the pattern drawing. I couldn't stand it, and on an impulse, I decided to make the short jacket. In red just like the pattern envelope picture. The fabrics were  red poly/rayon linen look and  mystery fiber  lining material from my stash,  both circa 1980. The  pattern  has two piece raglan like sleeves and the  front of the jacket extends into a standing back collar. The pattern come in sizes Y(XSmall-Small-Medium), ZZ(Large-XLarge-XXLarge)  Equivalent to Size 4 to Size 26.

I made a size M (size 12-14)  The pattern is rated easy and in general, based on pattern pieces and sewing skills needed, it is.  However it is lined to the edge. The lining is assembled separately, as though it were a second garment, placed inside the garment, wrong side to wrong side, and attached along the edges, it provides the garment with a perfectly smooth inside finish.  With this method the lining is not cut larger that the fashion garment to provide length and width fitting ease ( generally at center back, armhole, hem edge, elbow, sleeve hem, shoulder) like a tailored suit lining is.

So inaccurate sewing, seams slightly bigger in the lining construction for example, are a recipe for disaster. I consider myself an experienced sewer and these types of lining are not easy for me.   To up the chances of success, I interfaced the edges of the front pieces and the collar as these are all cut on the bias. I also added a center back pleat to the lining and cut the lining about 1/8 inch bigger that the garment pieces.


Top Stitching with edge stitch pressure foot

The curved side overlaps the straight front side. But the front did not hang neatly, overlapping as shown in the pattern drawing.The pattern does not call for a closure. When I tried to add snaps to keep the pieces overlapped, the fabric puckered and  pulled. I believe, in part, because one side is heavier than the other.

lining and snaps

puckers , yuck

So for the time being I will wear the jacket  it open. I am tempted to add a curved shape to the LHS. It would satisfy my need for a repeated design element. And  I cut two of that piece, not paying attention to the "cut 1" on the pattern piece.  I do think the technique for applying the shapes on the longer coat is interesting and could be used on another  project. It also reminds me of the all the Lois Ericson patterns I have in my stash.  She used faced shapes on her art to wear garments.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spice Colors

I sewed up a couple of tops to wear with the butterscotch jacket from the last post.  The fabric colors were from the  “Desert pallete” of ocher, mustard, pepper and cinnamon that many designers are using this spring.

The first top was a blouse from  Burda pattern 6839, an envelope pattern that includes  seam and hem allowances. It is semi fitted style with front princess seams and back darts.  I made view A, which has pleats that radiate from the neckline.

 The fabric was a silk print of wine and  black circles on a gold and brown pin stripe background.

The fabric was really densely woven and behaved like a microfiber.  In that when I had to sew through more than 4 layers, the brand new, very sharp needles had trouble pushing through the fabric. I am still becoming familiar with my new computerized sewing machine and when this message  appeared the first time the needle could not pierce the fabric, I was a bit startled. 

While I waited for the OK button to reset, it occurred to me that this is a message I would really like to give to my kids, spouse or coworkers  sometimes. Substituting the word  "Human" for Machine. He he he! Maybe when we are all wearing Google type glasses we can program such messages to pop up  on our glasses for others to read.  Anyway, I really like the fit of this blouse and hope to make another one from this pattern soon

Burda 6839

Burda 6839 blouse & Vogue 9039 jacket

The second  top is  view A of Vogue 9006.  This one is going to be a favorite for a quick summer top. 

It is pullover with draped (small cowl) front neckline, princess seams and shaped hem.  The shoulders of the armholes are slightly cut in and for that reason, the sleeve pattern for views B and C does not work with the armhole of A.  Rats , because I really wanted the front of A with the sleeves of B. My fabric is silk georgette.

The pattern calls for finishing the sleeves with a facing.  I am not part of the anti facing sewist group. When the facing pattern is drafted correctly and the sewing is accurate, facings are wonderful.  For my silk georgette fabric, I felt  a lightly interfaced facing was perfect for finishing the armholes on this blouse and maintaining the shape. I am mentioning this because some others have sewn this top, finished the armholes with a bias binding and then complained of the arm hole being too big. Perhaps the armhole was stretched out of shape when the binding was applied? The size of the armhole on my top was perfect.
Vogue 9006

Vogue 9006 top with Vogue 9039 jacket