Sunday, September 13, 2015

Of Corset is a Sewing Post

I have had Vogue pattern 7639,  in my pattern stash for a while.The long Labor Day weekend was the perfect time to sew it.

Vogue Pattern 7639

 The pattern envelope description is “Close-fitting blouse has length variation, princess seams, top stitching , boning collar, front hook/eye closing  view AB long sleeves with cuff View C halter back."

I made view A which has is hip length and has long sleeves.  I used a cotton chambray fabric, one of my favorite fabrics.
 I first wore this fabric in RTW chambray “work shirts” back in the mid 70’s.   I had hand embroidered mine with flowers and animals like this one.

 I put a quilt panel on the back of  the work shirt I customized  for my boyfriend, now my DH.  At dinner tonight,  I asked him if we had any pictures of us wearing  those shirts and he surprised me by saying. 'I still have the shirt".  He not only has it, but it still fits.  He said "it was too precious to throw away."  Aww.  That is why he is a keeper. 

Those work shirts were unfitted. This blouse is very fitted. The multiple seaming in the waist and hip area below the bust is similar to seaming used in corsets.  In fact one Etsy seller of this pattern describes it as “corset inspired”.

This pattern uses hook and eyes for the closure on the front and the sleeve cuffs. Specifically ½ inch  hook and eye tape.  The assembly instructions assumes you are using this tape. My attraction to patterns with unusual styling details and closures often causes projects to take extra time to complete, what with the time I spend driving around to the local sewing stores trying to find certain sewing notions, closures, button, or zipper styles.  My local JoAnn’s and Hancock’s did not carry the tape.  A Google  search returned many widths of hook and  eye tape with the most common being the wide type used for bra closures.  I finally found a good picture of the type of tape used on the blouse  from an Etsy seller based in China and after studying it for a while I decided to make my own.

  Basically it is a stripe of woven fabric, double folded with raw edges inside. The hooks or eyes are sewn inside, with only the hook or eye sticking out beyond the tape edge. I use a poly cotton woven sew in interfacing for the tape; lightweight but with body/stiffness. Another hard to find item.

I sewed the hooks and eyes to the inside of the tape using the button setting on my machine. This is basically a zigzag in place stitch. The stitch length is set to 0 so there is no forward movement, with tacking (FIX button on my machine) to tie off the threads.

Machine sewing Eye  to tape

Top stitching the long open edges of the tape together was easy for the eye side.  I just went slowly to avoid hitting the metal legs of the eyes.  There must be commercial machine that does this on the hook piece. One that can maneuver easily around the lumpy hook.  I was able to sew along the edge of the tape between the hooks, stop and pull the hook under the pressure foot and resume sewing on the other side.  I used a zipper foot which acted as one side of the pressure foot, but to feed the fabric evenly, I had to use a finger as the other side like a pressure foot.  You guessed it, the needle tried to sew my finger to the tape.  Not a deep or painful bite, but it did bleed.

Finished tape

My homemade tape was perfect, once it was completed and the blood stains removed.
While I was doing all this sewing I got to thinking about corsets.  I don’t understand the fascination with them, but there sure are a lot of  patterns, sewalongs, and blog posts on how to sew them. One site listed these reasons for buying a corset.

Why buy a Corset ?  Would you like an hourglass figure? Would you like to appear slimmer? Would you like to train your waist into shape? Do you need back or posture support? Would you like a beautiful, authentic lingerie item for the bed room? Do you want to join in the latest fashion trend? If you've answered yes to any of these questions, then an authentic quality corset may be just what you're looking for!

 Um Okay.  Sorry but corsets don’t fit into any part of my life, real or role play.  But I recalled the lacing often found on the back of corsets to cinch waist in, and thought it might be amusing to add lacing to the back of this blouse.

HenriToulouse-Lautrec Woman in Corset
   It was easy enough to do.   I made some long interfaced tabs with metal eyelets and sewed them into the back darts at the waist level.  Some white soutache braid from my stash was used for the lacing.  
Back lacing

Though the pattern calls for boning in the seams below the bust, I didn’t think that would be real comfortable when sitting, so I left it out. Actually the seaming doesn't show up real well even with the top stitching, but the fit is good.

Well, I need to go pack for my business trip to Nashville. Unfortunately, there will only be time for work.  but the following week I am taking a couple days off for a sewing related class. Something I am really excited about. More on that later.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Retreat Sewing - Burda 6773 Jacket

In mid August I was lucky enough to get  away from home and work for a 3 day sewing retreat.  It was hosted by the Northern VA ASG group and was in  Leesburg, VA, a small town that has grown into a commuter suburb for Washington, DC. The retreat was in the humongous National Conference Center, the old Xerox corporate  training center. It had excellent rooms for sewing, big and brightly lit and a nice on site restaurant with reasonable prices.    My friend P and I took the scenic route to get there. Through the countryside, past little towns with weird names like Bumpass, Cuckoo, and Mineral.

 Just so we could stop in another little town and visit  Exquisite Fabrics.

This  high end fabric store was located in the Washington, DC neighborhood of Georgetown  until 2012, when the building it was in underwent renovations and the owners decided to retire.  They were originally planning to retire to Leesburg, but it was no longer a small town so they moved further out to Culpeper.  Culpeper was incorporated pre civil war, surveyed by George Washington,  and is the birthplace of a key figure in the civil war. I'll let you guess for which side.  The downtown is charming, and has many small restaurants and businesses including Exquisite Fabrics and a Bernina Dealer.  Above is a picture of the outside of the store. There was a guy in a red shirt that stopped short in the doorway and would not move. He acted like he was about to enter an alien and scary place.  I had to politely say "excuse me" to get by him. The store is small, and  packed with fabrics. Sorry, the clerk would not permit me to take a picture of the inside of the store. The fabrics were  high quality and high priced, though many were 25-30% off when we were there. A few pieces came home with me.  I  wonder how they could stay in business in such a rural location. They do have a website and online store.

One of the items that I sewed during the retreat was a jacket, using Burda 6773, an envelope pattern.

Burda 6773 pattern

The pattern description is "Sleeveless dress and matching jacket, inviting you to mix and match at will colors, patterns and weaves – generating exciting contrasts. Short jacket A or lengthened variant B with stitched-in hem band.

I liked the fact that the jacket had no collar, no closures and an interesting looking angular hem line.

The "stitched in hem band" is a fairly wide lined panel that is sewn on to the bottom of the short bolero jacket, which is unlined. Only half of the panel shows below the jacket and the instruction have you attaching  it to the top part with one line of top stitching on the bottom edge of the jacket.  This leaves  about half of the panel width  flapping unattached above the top stitching.  I did some hand sewing to attach it to the jacket body.

Burda 6773 Jacket Front
Burda 6773 Jacket Back

Burda 6773 Jacket Inside
My fabric was a poly/rayon/cotton loosely woven blend. I interfaced the body and sleeve with iron in  interfacing.  And I lined the upper part of the jacket. It was easy and quick jacket to  sew. Though my workplace is very casual now, I still wear jackets to keep warm in overly air-conditioned rooms. But I wear them with jeans or twill pants. Here I played around with white jeans and gray twill pants


The Labor Day picnic is about to start. The coleslaw, macaroni salad and iced brownies are ready to go.  We are waiting on the arrival of the "grill master" to start the cooking of the sausages and hamburgers. Public school starts tomorrow. Mental note -  leave for work early to avoid slow moving school buses and car pool moms. For those of you that had a long Holiday weekend, I hope it was fun and involved some sewing

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.