Saturday, May 15, 2021

Sundress No. 2

 I tend to sew faster than I post on my blog.  Which means some of my sews never make it to the blog. I wanted to put out a quick post on the 2nd sundress I made for the #joyvivsundress challenge because I think it is a great summer dress style, and my current sewing project is almost done. The pattern is  See &Sew B5734.

The pattern fabric recommendations are "faille, crepe and stable knit". Faille and crepe are weaves. Faille is typically woven. There are both woven and knit crepe fabrics.  Too confusing. So I focused on the stable knits recommendation.  I immediately thought of ponte knit or cotton T shirt knit, neither one of which I felt was appropriate for this dress. I did some research to see if there was any other kinds of stable knits. According to the internet, stable knits have a stretch factor of about 15%-20% in the width, and little stretch in the length. Because they have little stretch, they can often be treated like a woven fabric.  Supposedly the pattern for a stable knit would have extra ease added to ensure ease of movement when the garment is worn. 

 Before the summer heat comes and  makes being in the attic unbearable, I have been up there culling  fabric from  my stash. Unfortunately "First In, Last Out" is how I manage my fabric inventory and the oldest is in the attic. The attic is not a friendly place. I have to climb a ladder to get there, and fumble in the dark for the light switch.  And during a previous roof replacement the roofers tore the shingles off, but pounded the nails through the roof. So between the rafters it looks like a medieval torture device. Yes,  I have raised my head and hit those nails. You only do it once. 

There was a huge quantity of print knits from the 1990’s. The fabric content was poly/cotton. It was soft, but had no real stretch. Not compared to the lycra blend knits available today.  Most of it was either children’s prints or prints that were obviously dated.  But a few were ‘timeless”, not affected by the passage of time or changes in fashion. I chose a bright blue, irregular dot print.

This dress was an easy sew. The top is supposed to be lined in the fashion fabric. Instead, I used the fabric from a grey cotton t shirt  (stable knit) that was headed to trash. Worked great. I added 2.5 inches to the length of the dress. l love the big, easy to access, pockets.  They are part of the side panels in the lower front and easy to construct.

See&Sew B5734

This dress is a bit more casual that the first one.  Perfect to put on in the evening at the end of  a day of gardening or beach bumming, after a shower of course.  

And I felt so virtuous using up old stash fabric.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Seersucker Sundress

 Inspired by the sundress challenge #joyvivsundress  on Instagram, sponsored by youtubers Joy and Viv, I spent hours looking through my Burda magazine archives.    I picked out  a dress from the June 2006 issue of Burda. Number 113.  Thanks, goodness, for the Russian Burda website. Not only does it have the pictures and line drawings from all issues back to 2003, but also the pictures of this particular dress made by  Russian sewists. These pictures showed  many variations of fabric choice and model body shape, for  both dress 113, and it non ruffle version, 114.

 In the magazine, the dress is shown made of seersucker fabric.  From the  Fabric File:  Seersucker is described as a  light and airy cotton with crinkled stripes that is ideal for wearing in summer as the undulating surface doesn’t come into constant contact with your skin. This fabric is easy care as it rarely creases and doesn’t need ironing.  The typical textured surface of authentic seersucker is due to the weaving method: some longways warp yarns tight and the others slack. In cheaper version soaking some threads in sodium bicarbonate swells them to produce a similar effect.  The seersucker name derives from Persian “shir o shekar” meaning “milk and sugar” a suitable sweet description for a fabulous fabric.

I had some seersucker in my stash and decided, based on the description above, it would be perfect for a unlined dress that would be worn in the sun. I picked out a turquoise/white 1/16" striped seersucker. The crinkled aspect of the fabric made it a bit problematic to mark with my favorite method, tracing wheel and tracing paper.  The dots were hard to see on the striped fabric and it was difficult to choose the color of the paper to use. If the color showed up on the dark stripes, then it showed through on the lighter stripes.  I ended up used hand tacking to mark the multiple  flounce attachment lines. The crinkled texture does reduce wearing creases and is also a bit stretchy, a nice feature as this dress is close fitting. The style was an easy sew. I finished the edges of the flounces using this technique.


 I  taper the skirt from waist to hem a total of  2 inches, to give a more flattering  look.  The deep squared off neckline is a bit unusual. But as the magazine photo shows, it a great place to hang your sunnies.

While I don’t have anywhere to wear the dress currently, what with the Covid situation and the unusually cool temps we are having at the moment, I am planning a few summer trips and have booked a cruise in 2022 (fingers crossed).

Monday, April 19, 2021

Challenges - The fun kind

 I have sewn a couple garments in the last month, both for Garment Designer software challenges.  The first one was the Ruffle Challenge. The challenge was to create a pattern in Garment Designer that used the Ruffle feature.  Garment Designer software will quickly create the pattern for a circular ruffle for a  hem length, to a user specified width and flare.  In my inspiration file, there were three versions of  garments that had a ruffle starting in a front yoke and spiraling down the sleeve. That was the pattern I chose to make.

I drafted the blouse  pattern in Garment Designer and manipulated the sleeve hem  to  be a diagonal seam from armhole to hem in order to generated the ruffle pattern of the correct length.  To keep the blouse from being too frou frou, I made it from a pink cotton chambray fabric.  It looks good with blue or white jeans. 

My blouse won the Challenge!  A small nominal prize, but it brightened my day. 

  The next challenge was the Creativity with Stripes Challenge,  I am ineligible to win any other challenges this year, but I can still participate.  I had a lot of  weird shaped scraps of black and white stripe cotton lycra fabric left over from the body suit I made back in Jan 2019.

  I threw half of them in an apple green  Rit Dye bath. I drafted a  basic T shirt pattern in Garment Designer (replicated a favorite Burda T Shirt)  and did some create piecing with the green and black stripe fabric.  My mother called the result a "shadow effect". 

 The back was looking a bit boring with black and white stripes and one green sleeve. So I pieced the  letters "Au", which  are the first two letters of my name and the Periodic Table abbreviation for gold, on the back.

 To wear with my rather different T shirt, I decided I  needed a different pair of pants. I collected up all the pants patterns I have with the  popular Art to Wear "lantern" shaped leg. Patterns like the Trio pants from Sewing Workshop, Vogue - both Sandra Betzina 1355 and Marcy Tilton 9035, and The Cutting Line - Discover Something Novel pants

From these patterns I chose the  Tilton Vogue 9035. Because it was the only one with a fitted waist. All the other patterns had elastic waists.  

Gathered fabric filling in what little waist indentation I have makes me look block shaped. I avoid gathered waist garments. Of course I didn't think it through and realize that a fitted waist meant basting and fitting and resewing. Sigh. Not a fast sew, but  it did result in a a cute pair of pants. Fabric is machine washed, lightweight, wool gabardine that has been topstitched using beige thread.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Vogue 1768 - Tilton Top

 Vogue 1768 pattern, by designer Marcy Tilton, is described as a Misses semi-fitted, pullover peplum top with asymmetrical seaming, and raised notch collar.  

You must be "on your game" when making this top.  There are asymmetrical pieces to  cut and sew together, mitered corners and a lot of topstitching.     I loved the front, but when I  looked at the back line drawing, I thought I was looking at the line drawing for a different pattern. For example, like McCalls 7513.

McCalls 7513

While the front had asymmetrical seaming, and irregular shaped flared peplum pieces attached to the bottom with curved seaming, the back had shoulder seam princess seams and a straight seamed lower section with pleats.   I have always liked the Tilton sisters' designs for their unique style lines.  To the best of my recollections, their garments always included repeats or references to the garment front design lines in the garment back.  I confirmed this by going out to Etsy, doing a search on Tilton patterns, and comparing the front and black line drawing of many of their patterns. I am not sure what happened on this design. 

 I may be a bit sensitive to the consistent princess seam thing, associating it with  "inexperienced designer" because of a personal experience.  Long ago I took a pattern design class at G Street Fabrics  where I  drafted the pattern for an Armani jacket.  I had a picture of the jacket front which had armhole princess seams. But no picture of the back. So I blithely put shoulder princess seams in the back.  The instructor suggested  I use armhole princess seams in the back to repeat those in the front.  

So I  redesigned the back for this top.  I made the original back of a muslin fabric and basted it to the front to make sure I liked the fit. Then I took the back muslin and drew my new style lines on it.  I cut along those style lines and added seam allowances.  I added the armhole princess seams. I added  two overlapping peplum pieces attached with a curved seam. I added a bit of flare to the  peplum pieces to replicate the function of the pleats in the original design.  The fabric used was a light weight ponte knit of  an unknown blend from the stash.

Front with original back muslin

New Back 

 I like my back so much better. It satisfies my need for repetition and consistency.

Restyled Back

Vogue 1768

Friday, February 5, 2021

 Another  sweat suit  make using two more  Grasser Patterns  combined with some luscious organic tencel cotton stretch fleece (.76 tencel lyocell, .28 organic cotton .06 spandex)  from Ewe Fine Fiber Goods , a small/yarn fabric store in Charlottesville, VA.

The top is  Grasser No. 528. I liked the raised neck line, so cozy,  and the asymmetrical vertical pleats.  In reality the pleats don't stay neat and vertical. 

The pants are  Grasser No. 725. They are meant to be made out of a firmer knit like ponte or wool double knit. The drape and softness of my fabric affected the look of my pants. I took in all seams significantly to get a neater appearance and closer fit. The  instruction included two  construction techniques I had never seen before, 1. Using grosgrain ribbon in the hem allowance of knit pant to maintain the shape of the leg hems. 2. And for the waistband, using two layers of elastic to provide a firm but stretchy waistband and a crisp turned edge to the pant top.

The set is very soft and comfortable.  However it reminds me of pajamas and I don't ever wear pajamas during the day unless I am sick,  recovering from surgery, etc. This sewing project confirmed what I have always suspected, which is that I feel more attractive  and therefore more comfortable, in garments with a bit more shape and structure.    I love the neckline of the top  and hope to use it in another garment.

Grasser top 528 and pant 725

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Snow and Sweat

Ah how things change.  I have never been a fan of either sweatshirt/sweatsuit  styles or  independent patterns. But here I am sewing sweats, well leisurewear type clothing,  using PDF patterns.  Why? well .. Covid quarantining, retired but can't travel,  and between contracting jobs.  I get up early and go to my boot camp workout (yes, future DIL talked me into it).  Wait until my birthday when all workout attendees have to do the same number of pushups as my age. I will not be popular. I am home and showered by 7:30 AM. Which leaves me a lot of time to watch Youtube video's, go down Google gopher holes, and spend money. One day both Peggy Sagers and Linda Lee had YouTube videos about sweat shirting material and leisure wear patterns.  I perused LL's sweat shirting fabric and while they were very nice, they were expensive and would cost an arm and a leg to ship from Calif.  I found many options from closer sources.  It is amazing the fiber blends, weights, and colors that sweat shirting fabric comes in.  According to my Fabric Purchase spreadsheet, this is what I added to my stash.

And wouldn't you know it,  after making the purchases I found some sweat shirting deep in the stash. Big remnants from sewing little boy clothes, circa 2000.

Another time wasting activity I have is going on Etsy, typing  "PDF pattern top" in Search and scrolling through the huge number of  pages of PDF patterns. I look for  previously "not known to me" pattern drafters, in far away countries, in hopes of finding something unique and different.  One I found recently was Grasser patterns. They had some interesting sweatshirt patterns.    The sizes are Russian (so check your measurements) and include different heights. This is a plus for me when buying patterns drafted in locations where the average woman is not as tall as me. Prices are very reasonable. Instructions were good. Though there were some odd terms used (translations) but they were understandable. They only have A4 and plotter print options.  I deal with this by buying a couple of  reams of A4 (international size 8.3x11.7") paper from Staples, and put it in one of the  paper cassette trays of my printer.

I chose #513 to sew out of the heavyweight cotton  sweatshirt fabric.  The fabric  had the same type of body as one of the pattern's recommended fabrics - neoprene. It was fun sewing the undulating seams in the front and back that give the sweatshirt some shape.  The sleeves end in tapered shapes that tie. My fabric had absolutely no stretch. So instead of using the fabric as a neck binding as per the instructions, I made a shaped band in the width the binding would have been. 

What to wear with this sweatshirt?  Warning, I am taking the opportunity to be more creative with my wardrobe pairing.  Expected choice - an old pair of Vince wool joggers.

and for a fun skirt like alternative, the harem pants from the Issey Miyake Vogue Pattern 1328. 

 It snowed today. All very pretty. Just  enough so that the restaurant, where we had reservations for a family birthday dinner celebration,  decided to close.  DH is currently grilling steaks on the deck. Yes, in the snow.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Hoodie Challenge - Garment Designer

Anyone else lose their sewing motivation during this Covid-19 quarantining, self isolation, social distancing, etc.?

An email with this message revived my sewing interest.

Design Challenge: Hoodies Anyone?

“Our first challenge is to invite our users to make a garment using the Hood as found in Garment Designer.”

 I have owned Garment Designer (GD) pattern drafting software for about 6 years.  I attended a fabulous GD workshop in New Mexico a couple years, but have not used it much since. I had to search for the software CD and security hasp to load it on my current laptop. 

Software Website: Cochenille


 Hoods have never been on my radar.  I am not a fan because when worn up, they block my peripheral vision.  Give me a hat anytime.  But that said, it was interesting to learn about hoods. How they are considered to be a "collar".  And how to  measure yourself and draft a hood based on your head width and height,  as explained very clearly in these YouTube videos from Diane Denzel

Pattern a Basic Hood

 Hood Pattern with Modifications

I was actually surprised at the wide variety of hood shapes. From basic (looks like a monk's hood) to the close fitting, multi seamed shapes of performance outerwear, and the unique but bazaar hoods of designer Issey Miyake.   Part of my reason for reviewing hood drafting methods was to compare them to the hood options in GD so I understood the drafting rules, ease etc.  used by the software. 

Though I found some fabulous, hooded garment as inspirations, I had to choose one that was draftable based on my GD skills, and sewable by the Challenge due date.  Here is the photo of the inspiration garment.

Hoodie inspiration photo

 It is a slightly flared, long cardigan, with a wide center band that starts at the hem and extends up the front and becomes the front section of the hood.  When the hood is down, the band is like a big lapel that goes over the shoulder.   The back, front and sleeves were easy to draft in GD, but I did have to manipulate the default hood pattern shape to factor in the band, and add the band piece itself using the Shape feature.  I have included a picture of the GD pattern which includes information that other users can use to draft their own version.  I know I really appreciate finding GD tips and patterns on the internet. 

Garment Designer Hoodie Pattern

The wide front band of this cardigan is a wonderful place for embellishment or color blocking. 


I chose to embellish it with appliques made from the same fabric, but with the wrong side (fuzzy) up to create tonal, textural contrast. I cut circles and donut shapes and applied fusible web to the back/ smooth side of the shapes.  These were ironed to the front band.

The fabric I used is “Sage Mock-Bamboo 10 Ounce Sweatshirt Fleece Knit” of .95 rayon .5 spandex from  Nick of Time Fabric This fabric was wonderfully thick, soft and drapey.  I like to sew knit garments, made from “new to me” patterns, on the sewing machine to test the fit before serging.  This fabric was not fun to sew on the sewing machine.  It did not feed well because of the thickness and stretchiness. It was a dream to sew on the serger. 

 Yesterday it was so dark and rainy, the light sensor on the outside Christmas lights turned them on at 2 PM,  thinking it was dusk.  Depressing.  But today it is crisp and clear  and perfect for a few outdoor pictures. 

Hoodie - drafted in Garment Designer software