Friday, November 7, 2014

Autumn Activities

This post has been in draft mode for almost two weeks waiting for better pictures, links to instructional info and more witty prose. Those are never going to happen so here it is, short and sweet.

This time of year my husband would have us road tripping about the countryside every weekend. I convinced him to do one day trips so I could have the other day for sewing. And he would have a day for his "honey do" list. I warned him if I didn't sew, I would be grouchy and compensate by buying more fabric. He knows that is not an idle threat.

This past weekend we visited the Shenandoah National Park and hiked the same trail we did 35 years ago on our honeymoon. The weather and autumn leaf color were great, but the trails and roads in the park were packed with people. I guess everyone had the same idea for a weekend outing. On the way home, we stopped at an orchard and bought a variety of apples. Virginia has an apple growing region. When I was a kid and our family vacations took us through Virginia during apple harvest time, we always stopped at an apple orchard where my mom would buy a couple bushels to take home. The problem was the only place for the apples, in our overcrowded car, was on the floor in front of the back seat; where my brother, sister and I sat.. The last four hours of the trip home were spent trying to find a place to rest our feet comfortably among the baskets of apples, and  whining and complaining loudly. We were allowed to eat as many apples as we wanted, probably to keep us quiet.  The memory of the taste of those just picked apples is one of the reasons I can always be talked into a trip to an orchard.

Thorton Valley Orchard, Sperryville, VA

 My latest makes are a blouse, Vogue  pattern 1412,  in an animal print silk spandex, and pants in an irregular pinstripe cotton poly bottom weight. Both fabrics are from Fabric Mart Fabrics.

The blouse is a tunic style with faced V neck, shirttail hem and gathers at the shoulder and back neck. The button closure on this blouse is fake. And while I am always up for unique details, I am not sure all the effort to mark and press the pleats that make this closure were worth it. The back neck gathers meant I did not have to do my normal alteration for the high back curvature. Not that you can see any of these style details in the print fabric I used, but I think they would be very flattering in a solid color fabric. The blouse can be worn out or tucked into pants or skirt under a jacket. The V neckline is fine on me, but I have no cleavage so I  rarely have the issues with low necklines on Vogue and Burda patterns which seem to bother other sewers. To check neckline depth, be sure and fold out the tuck on the pattern and hold pattern to your body. The front pleat's sides overlap, making the lowest point of the V about 1" above the bottom of the finished neckline opening .

The pants were a copy of a favorite pair of RTW pants. The RTW brand is FOCUS which is a rather inexpensive line. I try on many different RTW brands, both inexpensive and high end, to find brands whose pants fit me well. I have found good fit at both ends of the cost spectrum. The original pants were made from a poly rayon crepe type fabric and had none of the excess fabric in the back beneath my butt, where I normally have it. When they got ratty from wear, I took them apart to make a pattern. I found that the front crotch extension was very short and the back crotch extension very long and tapered sharply from the inside leg. From reading drafting books, this draft is used to snug in the back crotch area to the body and is more typical of jeans than slacks. I still had to tweak the copied pattern a bit. My butt is so flat and wide; I shorten the center back seam 5/8 at the top tapered to nothing at the side seam, and remove the back waistline darts. The small amount of shaping I need when going from the widest part of my hip to my waist can be done in the center back seam and side seam darts. I would have never thought to do this, but when I had a professional fitter help me tweaked a pant muslin years ago, she made these changes and explained why they worked for my shape.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Tats So Cool!

How do you like my new arm tat? I think it looks pretty cool. I am sitting on the deck watching the leaves fall, and procrastinating about raking them up. Raking is a thankless task, more leaves will fall every day until the trees are bare. I might as well wait until that happens.

 I am drinking a seasonal brew,  Legend Brewery's Punkin Ale,  while admiring the lone pumpkin my garden produced this year.  DS#1 was going to brew his own pumpkin ale using small sugar pie pumpkins from our garden. As you can guess, we had to change our plans. We bought already brewed  beer to enjoy in the pleasant fall weather. 

The tattoo is fake. It is a nylon sleeve printed with a tattoo, which I bought to freak out my kids, impersonate certain sewing bloggers, or wear for Halloween.

I found some printed mesh fabric at Fabric Mart that reminded me of  arm tattoos of the type shown below.

Tatoo by Nazareno Tubaro
 I wondered if it was sheer enough to look like my fake tattoo sleeve.  So I put a yard in my shopping cart. It was printed on a white background and wasn't quite as sheer as I would have liked. But I went ahead with plans and  used it as the sleeves in T shirt pattern  123 from BurdaStyle 9/2012.

Burda Sept 2012 123
The pattern  included front shoulder  panels, which I made out of  leftover suede scraps.  I did not use the neck facings or make the slit at the back neckline as shown in the pattern. The neck is bound in self fabric and fits over my head with no problems.

 I  also sewed a pair of pants from  Burda 7746, an out of print  envelope pattern. The fabric is dark brown poly, rayon, lycra  also from Fabric Mart. The pants are okay. A bit looser in the hip and crotch area than I like.  This is not a criticism of the pattern, more my body shape and the pattern design. Other reviews were very positive.

Burda 7746
I took a couple days off work this week. They were compensatory “comp” days for working 3 of the 4 days of the labor Day weekend. We won’t talk about how jealous I was of bloggers who sewed that weekend. I  wore the T shirt and pants to a Sewing Expo. I took the classes below with some of my  favorite instructors, and made a couple of fabric purchases from the Vogue Fabrics booth.

  •  Cutting In...Cutting Out: The Latest One-Seam© Pants  Instructor: Louise Cutting
  • Guide to Modern Tailoring: Pre-Construction Prep  Instructor: Cynthia Guffey
  • Essential Tips for Fitting Instructor: Sarah Veblen
  • Iconic American Sportswear  Instructor: Sandy Miller
  • Guide to Modern Tailoring: Finishing for Fashion  Instructor: Cynthia Guffey

  I  ran into several sewing friends I had met originally at other events;  Pattern Review  Weekend in  Phila.  ASG sewing retreats,  ETM, DC.  It is so fun to make new friends and then see and talk to  them again at other sewing related events.  I also got to meet Meigan from Get My Stitch On  when she came up and  introduced herself.  I was glad she did. I was disappointed I did not get to meet her when she was in town for the Hollywood costume exhibit earlier this year. I had a great time.
I should be raking
Hiding behind the wood pile

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ramblings and Road Trips

Wow, 6 weeks has flown by with very little sewing. People are asking what I am doing.  Here is an update. But I'll warn you, though it has sewing related info, it is a bit rambling.

The annual beach vacation has come and gone – As in years past, the girls planned a group sewing project.  But we never seemed to get around to it. Good thing patterns and fabrics age well.

Project for Beach Week 2015
My sons are back at their respective universities. One had to be moved into an apartment. Of course it poured rain that day. Horrible weather for moving boxes and furniture like couches and mattresses, especially when parking was not adjacent to the building. I wore a large green garbage bag over my t-shirt and shorts to keep dry  With my hair soaking wet and plastered to my head, it was not a good look. I found these pictures on the Internet.  Looks like I missed an opportunity to rock the look. All I need was a   kickin' pair of booties and rain scarf. Next time!

garbage bag chic _ Jeremy Scott

Jeremy Scott
DH has been on a weekend road trip kick.  The man love to drive. We pick a destination, a variety  of things to do and see, and go for it. The first one was to Pennsylvania. A 7 hour trip that I insisted be broken up by a visit to    the source of a huge amount of my fabric stash.  The selection is much smaller now than it was back in the 80’s, when I worked as an engineer at a glass fabrication factory (car windows) just down the road, and spent many a lunch hour digging through piles of fabric for treasures.  I purchased a couple of bottom weight wool blends. The trip included a visit to the University where DH and I met, many years ago, at a dormitory party. We walked around campus and had dinner at a favorite restaurant. A couple more hours of driving to visit DH parents’ graves and then on to his 40th high school reunion. The reunion was a very small casual affair held  around a classmate's backyard pool, in rural Pennsylvania where he grew up. How rural? There were cows in the adjacent field. It was fun for me to listen to the stories that were told as sun went down and the stars came up.  Three of the attendees, including my husband, were teachers’ kids. Imagine having your father as a teacher in High School. Mortifying!  But now that I think of it, my grandfather was a high school teacher too. So my father had the same situation. Below is my grandfather when he was coach of the championship woman's basketball team at Kingsville High School, Ashtabula County (Ohio). This photo fascinates me. They all seem to have the same  hair style, which is not flattering to any of them, and I'll bet those uniform were made of wool.

Kingsville High School, Ashtabula County, Ohio

Another weekend we visited the Fredericksburg, VA civil war battlefield where DH’s great grandfather fought for the union side. DH  descended from the offspring of the man and his 30 year younger, 2nd wife in case you did the math and were a bit puzzled.  There is a great Austrian restaurant,   Bavarian Chef in the Fredericksburg train station where we had lunch.

And we spent one weekend in the Shenandoah Valley, delivering left behind items to DS #1, who lives in a town that has a delightful independent fabric store   Ragtime Fabrics   They have a cute store tour video. If you ever traveling in I81, Harrisonburg, VA  is the exit to take to visit this store.  We also stopped at  the local farmers' market and  one of the big caverns in the area.

I made a quick top from Kwik Sew 3032 pattern.

Kwik Sew 3032
View A has a fold over hem around the neckline edge. I decided to make the back neckline a V shape like the front, rather than deal with alterations to the upper back seam for my back curves.  I cut before thinking. This meant I did not have the seam shaping for mitering the "V" in the back neck edge, like I did in the front.

center front seam

Front neckline hem

 I was browsing my Japanese pattern books and found a technique for dealing with the situation.  It is from  a book called Simple and Cute, which has a lot of tops with various forms of ruffles.

Simple and Cute

I like the instruction pictures in  Japanese sewing  books. They are easy to understand without reading any text. They remind me of the Wordless Workbench feature in the Popular Science magazines that were bathroom reading material ( along with Readers' Digest) in my childhood home. Isn’t it funny what you remember sometimes?

Wordless Workbench - Roy Doty

Here are the instructions for finishing a V neckline with a  fold over hem, when you don't have center seams with built in miters.

V neck with fold over hem

A small piece of interfaced fabric, essentially a mini facing just for the V area, is sewn along the neckline seam at the V.

Clip just to the stitching  in the center of the V. Turn mini facing  and the hem allowance on the rest of the neckline to the  inside, and topstitched in place. The technique worked very well.



What else am I doing? I am currently thinking about copying this Dior dress. The Burda pattern is traced and the material pulled from the stash. But I am afraid if I start it the momentum will die, because  I have absolutely nowhere to wear it.
Dior inspiration dress

I am weaving bands on an inkle loom, inspired by the  Oct/Nov 2014 Threads Magazine article "How to Weave Custom Trims" by blogger and weaver Daryl Lancaster. The woven bands may be used to trim a vest I am making for a local ASG group vest challenge.

And I read this book while riding in the car on the weekend trips. I am testing some of the patterns in the book.

This weekend's plans include the NAS Oceana Air Show in Virginia Beach. Nothing like sitting on the sand, the sight and sound of the  Blue Angels flying in formation overhead, and the lingering scent of jet fuel.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tucked Away

I had a business trip to Chicago  a couple weeks ago,  while the polar vortex was influencing the  weather in that area.  I thought the breezy cool weather with no humidity  was wonderful. The locals were complaining about wearing sweaters in July.  The  weather  cooled my stalled, overheated sewing engine, and I was able to restart it and finish one of the jackets in sewing limbo.

I had  approximately  1  1/3 yard of  60" wide piece of an off white woven with slubbed  navy stripes.  The fabric actually had a bit of stretch to it.  I am not sure where I got it.   It insisted on being a jacket. The pattern is Simplicity 2728, a jacket with many variations.  Though it came out in 2009, there are still reviews popping up on the PR site.

Simplicity 2728

 I made the collarless view with elbow length sleeves.  There was no extra fabric to spare. The back, front and shortened sleeve patterns barely fit on the fabric. The neckline and hem facings are in a contrasting navy fabric.

Barely enough fabric
The jacket is lined in navy Bemberg rayon.  No surprises on this jacket except that I should have checked ease over body measurement before cutting. It is a bit looser in the bust  than I like. Because there are no side seams; the front extends into the side back, it is a bit hard to tweak the fit. 

Close up of jacket fabric

Simplicity 2728 Jacket front

Simplicity 2728 Jacket Back

Simplicity 2728

 I also sewed the blouse worn with the jacket. The fabric is a pink cotton chambray.  I searched my pattern stash for a  blouse pattern with  a collar that could be worn with a V neck jacket.   The pattern I chose was an older Vogue Anne Klein blouse pattern, 2789 - view A with pin tucks in the waist area for shaping and sleeves with tie bands

Vogue 2789
  I love the look of tucks,  but  I had forgotten how much time and effort they require until I had completed about 5 and realized I had 35 more to sew. A pin tuck is basically just topstitching near the fold of a garment. They can be done with a special pin tuck foot and double needles or a regular pressure foot  and single needle. I use a edge stitch foot with a single needle positioned 2.5 to the left of center.

Stitching Tuck with Edge Stitching Foot

Finished Sample Tucks

Vogue 2789 

Tucks take up fabric in the area where they are sewn. Very few patterns with pin tucks tell you how wide they should be. The patterns typically have the marking for the tuck fold line and that is it.    My waist is a bit thicker than the typical pattern waist measurement,  so I was very careful to make small, even tucks.  While I was sewing them, I thought about other garments that I have made with tucks.  I have been sewing since before internet info sources, sew-alongs,  blogs, and even local sewing organizations.  I would tackle project that tested my sewing skills. Some of them were successful and some were learning experiences.  Back in 2002, Vogue 2621 was a learning experience where tucks and lack of fitting expertise (checking my measurements against the pattern) resulted in a UFO (UnFinished Object). 
Vogue 2621
The jacket has tucks along the hem and the sleeves. The skirt has them in the yoke.    I cut the two garments out of treasured eggplant wool crepe, sewed the tucks using a randomly chosen width, and constructed the garment.  I tried them on and they were both too small. I  wondered what became of those garments. On a whim I checked in my UFO closet.   Cue hysterical laughing. OMG! Look what I found.  With two sets of possible buttons pinned to the front shoulder. It is definitely time for a clean out. What is in your closet?

12 year old UFO

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Did someone say “Contest”?

If you have read my blog for any length of time you know that I participate in sewing contests.  Sewing with a Plan (SWAP) contests, internet fabric vendor sponsored contests, and the wide variety (Pantone color, accessory, vintage garment, etc.)  of contests found on  Pattern Review.   I participate more for the challenge than the prizes, which are usually minimal.  

 The American Sewing Guild  (ASG) announced an Anyone Can Win Contest in early June.

 Every ASG member who entered a garment had a chance to win, regardless of their sewing expertise or experience, because the winners were chosen at random.  The only requirement was that the entries had to be made with one of ASG's Simplicity patterns.  I had Simplicity 1621 in my stash, purchased for the jacket which has a interesting collar that can be adjusted by pulling a drawstring.

This contest was all the incentive I needed to sew the jacket.  In addition to the jacket, the pattern includes a sleeveless tunic/dress with a fitted top, with  flaring below the bust on  all seams; side, center front and back.  It also has a Hi (in front)  Lo ( in back) hem. I decided to sew the dress too, so I would have two garments to submit to the contest and have a complete outfit to wear.
The jacket is made out of very lightweight open weave linen with a dégradé from rusty orange to dusty purple.

 I should call this my” rusty, dusty” outfit.  The fabric was horribly ravely and shifty. I  used French seams, but instead of sewing the first 1/4 inch seam using a straight stitch, I used a 1/4 " wide serger stitch to stop the fraying and sew the seam in one operations .  While I wouldn’t use this technique on finer fabric, because of the weight the serger threads adds in the seam, it did not adversely  impact the side and sleeve seams of this jacket. I added 2 inches to the length of the jacket, because I thought it looked a bit too short on the real women in the review pictures on PR, and  I needed the extra length in the jacket to get the full range of colors in the fabric.

Simplicity 1621 Jacket
 The dress shown on the front of the envelope, which I think is made of a woven fabric, has a unattractive bell like silhouette. I decided to make it out of a knit, hoping the weight and drape of the knit would improve the appearance.  My dress is made out of an inexpensive  T-shirt type knit. The cut edge of this knit curled like a spring. It was sooo annoying to work with.  Rather than finish the neck and armhole edges with bias trim as the pattern instructs,  I cut  facing pieces using the dress pattern.  I cut the facings off at the under bust  elastic casing line (for the view B top).  I added elastic, cut to my under bust measurement, to the bottom of the facing piece which added a shelf bra to the dress. The finished dress was sort of boring. While I was trying it on DS2 passed through the room, en route to forage food in the kitchen, and he asked me "Are you going to bed?" I was really puzzled about his question until I realized I don't usually make or wear this style of dress, but I do wear straight hanging garments in T shirt knits as nightwear.   To liven up the dress,   I hand overcast the seams on the outside  in contrasting rust colored  embroidery floss.    I knew the overcasting  would  create a raised ridge, taking up about 1/8" of the fabric on each side of the seam.  So I sewed the seam allowance corresponding smaller,  at 1/2" so as not affect the fit. I also cover stitched the hem and around the neck and armholes in the same color thread.

Simplicity 1621 dress
overcast seams and cover stitch hem

Simplicity 1621 dress and jacket

 The contest entries were due on July 1st. No announcement of winners or pictures of the garments submitted are on the ASG website at the time of this post. I do like the jacket and was actually surprised to find I like the look of the jacket worn with the dress. I am not so sure I would wear the dress by itself. It echo's my body shape a little to closely, small on top, lots of volume below the waist. Maybe with a killer statement necklace to draw attention up.   I am also not sure this is a work outfit. The jacket with a coordinating tank top ( where did I toss those scraps?) and slacks would be great though.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Pretty in Pink - Burda Style 5 2015 130

I love stripes and I was attracted to the casual look of this striped top.

Burda 5 2014 top 130

 I wasn't sure the style would be good for me though.  There is a lot of fabric in the waist area.   I felt the strip was critical to the top not looking like a baggy mess at the waist, confirmed with the only other version I could find on the internet, at site, which was  made in a solid color knit.  I decided to sew this top if I could find a semi sheer, drapey, woven fabric in a wide black and white stripe, preferably silk. I'll bet some of you are probably chuckling and thinking "Good luck with that"  Yes, the only black and white fabric I could find  was poly. Buy right next to it was a pink and white strip. Looking at the two choices, the black and white said "same old, same old", the pink and white  said "pretty!, pretty!". The pink came home with me.

The most time consuming part of making this top is the cutting out. Making sure the  front edge of the garment and all the yoke edges fall on the bottom of a dark stripe, and careful matching of stripes for the bias cut back. The sleeves are very slim fitting all the way to the wrist. I checked the sleeve width before cutting to make sure they would fit my arms.  The sleeve length is below the wrist as shown on the model. And because they are so fitted, the sleeves cannot be pushed up the arm for a 3/4 length casual look, which I  had considered doing. Before sewing the button/buttonhole bands of the ends of the draped pieces, I tried on the top and played with the draping to make sure the length was enough to lay nicely on my hips and maintain the low "V" in front.  I cut off about an inch on each tie to achieve this. If the ties are too long the draping at the hips drops below the bottom of the top and looks weird. A comment to this effect,  made by the sewer, alerted me to check this.

Front before draping

Back before draping

Front draping step 1


requisite back view 

with white jeans
I am very pleased with this top.  I can wear it with blue and white jeans and grey slacks.

  What I have not shared with you yet is that the dress code in my work place changed about a month ago.   Jeans are now permitted, with a lot of conditional criteria for client facing personnel (like me).   In a nut shell, you can dress at the level of your client or above, but not below. Since most of my clients are in a manufacturing facility, it can be jeans 90 % of the time.  I am completely perplexed with what to wear to work these days. For comfort and professionalism, I prefer slacks.  Still I don’t want to be overdressed. The males in my department embraced this change with enthusiasm. My boss, a male in his  mid 40’s promptly started wearing, baggy blue jeans. It startles me every time I look at him.  His superior is a woman about the same age as I am.  We have always dressed very similar and often in the same colors on the same day, which we joke about.  She has continued to wear professional looking clothes.  Complicating matters  further is my new office, which has all glass on an east facing wall.  Even with sun shades drawn against the morning sun, it is quite warm until about 3:00 PM every day, when for some inexplicable reason, a blower starts up and icy cold air pours out of the ceiling vent. I can‘t wear the beloved jackets I like to sew, but for 2 hours per day.  I have three partially completed jackets in sewing limbo  until I can get my wardrobe compass steady.  In the meantime I will continue to sew tops.