Friday, March 21, 2008

SWAP Sidetracked

SWAP sewing got sidetracked this week for a jacket challenge. The Fashion Focus neighborhood group of the local American Sewing Guild (ASG) chapter is having a jacket challenge. The challenge was inspired by an article "One Jacket, Six Ways" in the Dec/Jan issue of Vogue Patterns magazine The article featured a Sandra Betzina’s jacket pattern, Vogue 1024, made up in 6 different combinations of fabric and style modifications. The group decided to do the same thing by having participants make the same pattern in their choice of fabrics, notions, etc. and have a show and tell at one of the meetings. We did selected two jacket patterns because the SB jacket did not suit everyone. The other pattern is a Marcy Tilton jacket, Vogue 8454. The jackets are to be shown at the meeting in early April. Since I will be on vacation next week, returning shortly before the meeting, I had to get my jacket done now. I chose the Marcy Tilton pattern because it was already in my pattern stash. I had fun using the decorative tucking technique that was one of the pattern options. I will put a small picture of the jacket details as a teaser, but I will wait until after the meeting to post the finished jacket, so as not to spoil the surprise for other group members.

I also finished a Burda World of Fashion magazine top that was an impulse project. It is a tank top style with horizontal seaming that is gathered to rings in the back.

I was looking through my BWOF’s for SWAP inspiration. I have over 15 years worth, including some from the 1970’s. I came across a top I had marked several years ago but never made. And on the table in front of me were some black and white knits from Timmel Fabrics. I wondered what if I used the fabrics for color blocking, and just decided to do it. Within an hour I had the pattern traced and cut out. The top was easy to sew, but what took me the longest was relearning how to set up and adjust my Huskylock 936 serger, which I use only as a coverstitch machine. I am determined to conquer this machine. Or admit defeat and trade it in for one that is more user friendly . Grr. My main pet peeves 1. When coverstitching along the edge of a garment such as sewing down the turned under hem of a neckline or armhole, the edge of the fabric is underneath the humongeous pressure foot and there is no good way to guide the fabric to ensure the stitches are an even distance from the edge. The little tick mark on the front of the pressure foot is inadequate. 2. And this machine skips stitches at the slightest change in fabric thickness, in other words at every seam intersection. So if you have a wonderful coverstitch machine I would love to hear about it.
Do you ever get obsessed with a trend or fashion detail. For some reason making this top triggered heightened sensitivity to items featuring rings. They are everywhere, swimsuits, tops, purses, and shoes. I decided to see how easy it would be to find the rings to duplicate some of the looks. The fabric stores carry limited sizes in different metal finishes, and they are relatively expensive (2 for $6.00). They are called "O" rings. I swear I saw them labeled "vanity rings" when I bought some at G Street Fabrics several years ago, but an internet search of that term did not turn up any. So on a recent shopping trip I deliberately looked for other sources of rings. I actually found quite a lot. The thrift store had two purses with 5 " ring handles Each purse was $4, so each ring was $2.00. K-Mart had belts with interlocking rings. The idea was to get the belt cheap and cut it up for the rings. One white plastic belt with metal rings was on sale for $ .50, so each of the 10 rings cost 5 cent. The other, with plastic tortoise shell rings was $8, so each of the thirteen rings cost less than a dollar. Walmart actually had tubes of colored (turquoise, cobalt, white or pink, orange, white) plastic rings with instructions for making the very same belt K Mart had. The tubes had 12 rings and cost $2.00. I was surprised how many types and sizes of rings I found. Then to show just how bad my obsession was, today bought a black one piece Michael Kors bathing suit (on sale) that has twenty four 1 " gold metal rings. 10 down each side seam, and five on the center front below the bust. It is a compromise for me between accepting that dark colored one piece bathing suits are probably best for my 50 year old figure, but still wearing a suit that has a little "look at me factor". It might be a little much for the neighborhood swimming pool this summer, but for vacation next week it will be just fine.

Go sew fellow swappers! I will have to catch up.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

SWAP Pattern Switch

I switched to Vogue 8262 as my SWAP wardrobe pattern. It includes an unlined 'Jacket", an A-line skirt and pants. All very easy to sew. I have made the jacket before and I wear it as a blouse, both tucked in or worn out. The reason for switching wardrobe patterns so late in the game; the neckline/collar of the jacket from the original wardrobe pattern doesn't work well with any collared tops. I didn't like being limited to scoop neck tops for my SWAP. I plan to make a different jacket that is not part of a wardrobe pattern. So my wardrobe pattern had to include 3 pieces that fit into my SWAP, and that were quick to sew. There are a couple more weeks to finish all the SWAP garments. One of which I will be spending in the Cayman Islands without a sewing machine. I would really prefer to be sewing summer clothes for the vacation. In particular, I have been studying a picture of a Gottex bathing suit and seriously thinking about trying to duplicate it. It would be nice if I could make my body duplicate the model's, sigh! I am trying to use up leftover 2007 vacation days, so I took Friday off and had a long weekend. I made the skirt and jacket from the new wardrobe pattern. The jacket is from a polyester print. I liked the print so much; it overrode my aversion to the fabric content. The skirt is made from a remnant of wool I purchased last weekend in St Michaels, MD. (See Mom, sometimes I do sew up fabric without aging it in my stash.)

Monday, March 3, 2008


Sewing time has been sparse in the past two weeks. My husband has been traveling a lot for business, working on windmill farm construction in Indiana and W. VA. So after getting home from my job each day, I had full responsibility for dinners, homework supervision, driving to sport events, music lessons, hair cuts, etc. I did manage to complete two more tops for my SWAP. Both were very easy patterns.

Vogue 8392 includes a view with three tiers of ruffles on the sleeve which I liked a lot. The fabric for this blouse came from a large size RTW skirt, bought on sale, specifically to be cut up. It had two layers of crinkled grey/silver silk, with three rows of ruffles at the hem. I cut the sleeves so the ruffles were at the bottom edge. This saved me a lot of work and gave a similar look to the pattern.
The second blouse is Vogue 9771, is a bias cut cowl neck top made out of out of a woven polyester. The fabric is cross woven, with bright “Safety”orange (the color that hunters are required to wear in many parts of the USA) threads in one direction, and turquoise blue in the other. This makes the fabric iridescent, changing color when I move. Funny, the orange and blue combine to look more like mauve with blue accents. This top was super simple to sew. Cutting it out took a bit of time as the front and back pieces had to be cut from one layer of fabric, and I had to make sure the fabric stayed on the straight of grain while I am pinning and cutting the pattern pieces on the bias.
My youngest sister flew in from Arizona this weekend and all the siblings got together at my parents house in Maryland for a visit. We haven’t seen her in a couple of years. It was great fun reminiscing, eating Mom's cooking, and sis got to meet her new niece and nephew, adopted shortly after we saw her last.
Hopefully there will be more sewing time this week. I think I will change my SWAP wardrobe pattern and go with a diffent jacket in the same fabric. The collar of the current jacket is hard to coordinate with tops.