Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Sept. Sewing

Some readers may know that this BLOG started out as a way to track my progress on a Timmel Farics sponsored SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) contest. It was the first time I had participated. Reading other participants BLOGs and postings on the discussion board at http://www.stichersguild.com/ really motivated me. Well a couple of weeks ago, I got to meet two other participants and see their SWAPs. It was wonderful. Mary and Jodi both live in Newport News, VA so the Fashion Focus Neighborhood group of the Richmond ASG chapter set up a meeting location mid way between Richmond and Newport News in a lovely historic Bed and Breakfast. Mary and Jodi brought multiple SWAP’s, since they have participated multiple years; Jody most recently in the http://www.patternview.com/ Wardrobe Planning contest. It was wonderful to see their creations in person. Jodi had several great wardrobes of casual garments that fit her lifestyle. Wonderful knit fabrics in rich colors and textures, made into garments with interesting details and styling. She was wearing one of the outfits from her SWAP and she looked great. And I got to see that fabulous coat she made by taking apart and copying an old favorite coat. Mary makes lovely tailored garments. She is definitely an expert seamstress. Her dress SWAP was very inspiring, especially since I had a hard time getting my head around the concept of a dress swap. Each dress was unique and had as much work in it as a tailored jacket. And there was a stylish jacket that went with all the dresses, which I know from personal experience, can be hard to accomplish. We all gave short presentations on our sewing backgrounds, described how we developed our SWAPs, why we chose certain fabrics and styles, learning’s, successes, etc. I had a great time and I know the other members of the FFG did too. Photos on the internet do not do justice to the garments and fabrics. All I could think of was how much harder the voting would be if we were seeing the SWAPs in person. Thanks to the Group coordinator Judy Sutter for setting that up.

I have started on another vintage dress. A 1947 Vogue pattern described as "four piece skirt joins bodice at waist line. Darts trim the hip pockets on skirt and the deep collar. Open or closed neckline, sleeve cut in one with blouse fronts, set in armhole in back. Long sleeve gathered to cuff band and three-quarter length sleeves.” I am making it in a lt. weight wool flannel in a medium blue. I especially liked the multiple darts on the pockets and the collar. The pattern is not printed, just a paper shape, with various perforations marking the darts and seam lines. The paper is crumbling and I have to be very careful when smoothing out the wrinkles. I have to add 4" to bust, waist and hips. The bodice is giving me fits because of the front cut on sleeve with underarm gussets and a back with a set in sleeve. I am not sure where to add the additional width. I may actually have to do a muslin of the top.

I am trying to stretch my creative horizons. I signed up for a fabric postcard class club at a local quilting store. I was inspired by the postcards made by Vicki http://vickiwelsh.typepad.com/ and students who took her Fabric Postcard class. Yes I know, like I need something else to do, but I reasoned I could use fabric scraps from my sewing projects. I soon discovered Fallacy #1. Garment scraps are not near as exciting as new quilting fabrics and 2. Postcards are not going to make much of a dent in my scrap pile.

The post cards have to go out early next week and the dress has to be completed by the end of the month to be eligible for the contest. Fortunately this weekend is when the guys go off for a Boy Scout bike/camping trip and it is just Kitty and I at home. Hopefully I will get a lot done.

Speaking of Kitty, 2 different neighbors stopped by this week to tell me that they had seen a coyote in my yard. One had even verified it was not some mangy dog, by researching coyote's on the internet. I am a bit shocked as I live in Virginia, in a highly populated residential neighborhood of a big city. However, there is a 10 acre field between my back yard and heavily traveled River Road. I am hoping Mr. Coyote is munching on the teeming rabbit and squirrel populations, but just to be on safe side, I am keeping Ms. Kitty in at night.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Potting Sewl

I finished sewing another vintage dress. The pattern is the type that was ordered through a newspaper. I remember seeing the pictures of dress and craft patterns in the classified section of my childhood paper, The Pittsburgh Press. And I remember thinking the dress styles were years out of date and the crafts were old style embroidery. I believe these patterns are no longer offered in newspapers. The general consensus of the posters on http://www.patternreview.com/ Vintage Sewing contest discussion board is the pattern style is from the 1950’s or 60’s. One poster thought the short haircut on the model was similar to Audrey Hepburn’s when she was a popular movie star. I didn’t notice it until I read her comment and then I had to smile. Guess what actress I was named for? My mother was a big Audrey H. fan. I thought this dress looked like a summer sun dress and envisioned it in a small all over print. The brown cotton/linen, embroidered in pink flowers was on sale at JoAnne’s. As I was standing in the checkout line reviewing the paper that listed all my cut fabric, making sure I had gotten the sales price, I saw the words "Potting Soil" "What in the world?" I thought. Then I realized that the words were the fabric description, and it was for the brown embroidered fabric I was about to purchase. Normally fabric descriptions are short descriptive terms like fabric type, weave, or the manufacturers name. But "Potting Soil"?? Visions of a bored/mischievous inventory data entry person sprang to mind. One who did not like the color brown. I couldn’t resist changing soil to "sewl". That is the reason for the goofy post title.
I liked the style of the dress. The wide neckline, the bodice extending into the shoulder area, and the fitted silhouette with flared back skirt. The listed pattern measurements were all 4" smaller than mine. I pin fitted the pattern pieces on my dress form double, lining up center front and back. There must have been a lot of ease built into this pattern. I only added 1 in. to the bust and 2 in. to the waist, all in the front. The back width was fine. I did a SBA (small bust adjustment) at the princess seam. I inserted pink bias tape in the princess seams, neckline edge, and belt piece to emphasize them. The bias tape was a 1.5 inch wide, folded in half to ¾ inch. The raw edge of the tape was matched to the cut edge of the fabric so when the seam was sewn the folded edge extended an eighth of an inch beyond the seam line. I find this is less work than making and inserting piping, but it has a similar look.
I found some cute pink flower shaped buttons to use on the shoulders and back waist tab. I discovered that bodices extending into the shoulder areas do not work well on my sloping shoulders, when they have been cut for a square shoulder. I actually made small shoulder pads to hold the shoulder/button area more horizontal. I enjoyed sewing this dress. The combo of pattern and fabric really excited me and I look forward to my sewing time. By pushing myself to use patterns that are not in my size, I am learning so much about resizing patterns and fitting.

I am in a state of indecision about my next sewing project. I am conflicted between adding a couple of transitional pieces to my summer swap to make it wearable for warm fall weather or starting on some of the new fall patterns and winter fabrics. Or I could tackle another vintage pattern before the contest ends later this month.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Sewing 70's style

I finished the Vogue Paris Original pattern 2227, 1970's Pierre Balmain dress. It fit well without any alterations and was fairly easy to make. I wish I had made it in linen or wool double knit, instead of the poly cotton double knit. I just don't care for the synthetic knit blends. The neck and arm holes were just as snug as I thought they would be. The armholes don't bother me, no worries about undergarments showing, but I did lower the front neckline just a hair. I am going to transfer the neckline and armholes to my fitting sloper, since they fit so great.

I actually had more fun styling the dress to match the Versace dress mentioned in the previous post. I decided to buy a pair of above the elbow leather gloves like the ones in the picture, because I plan to make a couple of 3/4 length sleeve jackets for fall that I would wear the gloves with (in the car driving to work and walking into the office building). Could I find a pair leather gloves in VA in August? Heck no. The major dept. stores have not received their" winter leather goods" yet and even the online stores show delivery as late Sept, so I had to use the stretch lycra gloves used for Halloween dress up. Hubby and I were giggling hysterically as we walked around the yard looking for a suitable photo backdrop....the basketball hoop, the mini van, hoping the neighbors weren't home from church yet. We also shocked the sons, especially the 15 year old. The look on his face was priceless. "Hey bud, don't assume your parents are old, stodgy and predictable."