Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Oct Sewing

 In early October,  DH and I spent a week in New Mexico. I had been there before on a sewing related retreat and knew DH, with his love of rocks and old railroads, would love it.  Planned activities were hiking,  hot spring soaks,  museums of all kinds,  heritage sites, scenic railroad rides, and great food. Daily weather in NM in Oct. can be quite brisk, near freezing, in the morning warming up to  mid 70's during the day.  I packed garments that  could be layered, coordinated well with each other, and would be appropriate for sightseeing or hiking.   I had planned  to sew many garments for the trip, but you know how that goes. We randomly picked the week, but by luck it was  one that coincided with both the hot air Balloon Fiesta and peak  fall foliage.  The Albuquerque, NM Balloon Fiesta was a one of a kind experience. The sight of hundreds of colorful balloon ascending into the sky is awe inspiring. If you ever get a chance to go, take it!

Leaving Albuquerque we drove north,  headed to Taos , There were numerous hot springs along the way, some just a short hike off the the main road where you can soak in either bathing or birthday suits, Other are commercialized, with the hot waters piped into soaking pools. And with sun shades, changing rooms and refreshments.  One of the items I sewed for the trip was a new two piece bathing suit. There are situations where  a 2 piece bathing suit makes changing (cars, semi public places) or using the facilities (the "facilities on small boats") easier than a one piece. So I always have one in my wardrobe, though it may not be my best look.

 This bathing suit is from an old pattern I have used before. Fabric was from my stash. 

We stopped at one of the commercialized hot springs and had a nice soak  under a clear blue sky. To be honest the water was a bit too hot for me. 

From Taos we headed up to Chama, near the the Colorado state line.  We took a ride on the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad,  which has  narrow gauge tracks and steam engines.  The scenery was spectacular.  The  aspen trees, which I had never seen before, had turned a bright yellow and contrasted beautifully with the brown rocks and evergreen trees.  The limited color scheme was so different from the red, orange and yellow of Virginia fall foliage. It was a nice change.

Heading south,  we stayed the night in Espanola. We had a great meal in a local restaurant recommended by a fellow train passenger.  And stayed at a family owned hotel with authentic adobe structures  and architecture  accented by hand carved corbels, portals and hand made Mexican tile floors. 

I wore my me made shrug set , a sleeveless cowl neck top and matching shrug from Burda Nov 2013.  I made it from a marled poly spandex knit from Walmart.  When I got too warm, I just removed the shrug and tied it around my waist.  It looked like a self fabric belt. I did shorten the tunic and added elastic to the edge of the shrug to keep it from stretching out.

Burda 11 2013 111

Burda 11 2013 shrug set

And finally to  Sante Fe. I highly recommend seeing the art collection in the State Capital building, visiting the Natural History museum and of course window shopping. I love being able to visit the Sante Fe Weaving Gallery, Santa Fe Dry Goods, and  other clothing stores featuring unique, artistic garments.  I always get so many ideas and inspiration  for my own garment making.

We  enjoyed it so much we are planning our next trip.

Friday, September 3, 2021

Topping Off my Summer sewing

 The outside temperatures have dropped significantly and it feels like fall. And a package of wool fabrics arrived from Fabric Mart Fabrics this afternoon.  So I have pushed myself to document my late summer sewing makes.  All sewn in  August, all tops, all sleeveless, and  all from Burda magazines.

Number 1. 

 Burda 6 2018 109  sewn from a remnant of a light weight silk crepe print.  As I was cutting the fabric, I remembered how this fabric shifted about during cutting and sewing on the original project. Rather that do the bias finish on the neck and arm holes, I lined the bodice in cotton batiste.  The silk was droopier than the lining fabric resulting in a "droopy boob" look on the upper bodice.  Also contributing to this is the under bust seam which is not right under the bust  as depicted in the line drawing, but much lower. The under bust seam starts 1" above the waist at the side seam.  I double checked the pattern on the magazine insert. I also looked at the versions of this top sewn by the community on the Burda Russian site and many had the same problem. I will wear it around the house. Because it is red, my favorite color.

Burda 6 2008

Number 2.

Burda 3 2006 104 . Love the lines of this one. Cut in armholes, seams for shaping and topstitching, and back shoulder darts (which I need). I made it out of a yard of  turquoise white stretch chambray. Unfortunately the top stitching doesn't show very well.  This one got a lot of wear. 

Burda 3 2006

Number 3

From  June of 1997. Crossover top with tie accent, princess seaming,  and the back shoulder darts again. The fabric is a cotton print. Based on the yardage of fabric I had, I suspect I bought it to back a quilt. This print says beach vacation to me. I am not the only one to pull this pattern out of the stash recently.  I found a  French sewing blogger that used the top pattern  to make a dress in 2019.

Burda 6 1997

 Number 4.

Burda  2 2017 106

Looking at this pattern, I wondered what it would look like made in an ombre fabric.  I tried making it from a lightweight silk ombre scarf I had in my closet.  The fabric was too lightweight and the project ended up in the trash.  I decided to make my own ombre fabric in a more sewable weight by dying a piece from my stash.  The color of the silk fabric was a beigey yellow. Not an  "in" color right now. I was lucky to find a small spool of matching thread in the bin saved from my mother's sewing room. I used Apple Green Rit Dye and the stovetop method to dye the fabric. It took about 15 minutes of dipping the ends of the yardage in the dye pot.  Not long, but my arms ached. I love the way the flounce is draped, starting at the side seam and  forming a sleeve as it goes to the back.  Fortunately there are detailed instructions for assembling this top in the magazine.  I did the narrow hem on the flounce by hand after unsuccessfully trying  both serger and sewing machine techniques.  I did not put in the slit at the top of the back because the neck opening is way big enough to get my head through. Even after I raised the  V  neckline slightly.  

Burda 2 2017

Burda 2 2017 back

I was amused to see the peppers  we are currently harvesting from the garden are similar in color to my top. 

Now I am off to pat and fondle my new wools to get inspiration for fall sewing.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

Summer Travels

July was a month of much travel and minimal sewing.  Our early July trip was to a hot, humid location  so I decided to sew some linen garments and see if I would find them more comfortable/wrinkle free in that type of climate.

DS#1, age 29 decided to quit his job as a wine salesman and go to law school. He starts his classes at Louisiana State University in August.

Early in July,  DH and I  helped he and his fiancĂ©  drive their cars from Richmond, VA to Baton Rouge, LA.  It was 3-days of driving through 7 states. There were a few adventures. I discovered disposable face masks are good for other purposes when one finds oneself in a grubby gas station bathroom in rural Georgia  (detour around massive traffic jam on I85) with no toilet paper.  Or who knew the best restaurant near Atmore, AL is hiding in a dilapidated strip mall, furnished with a mix of booths repurposed from multiple types of restaurants; western, 50’s diner, and 70’s chic.  But the food was great, prices were low (what? no "7.5% meals tax" on top of local tax), and all mixed drinks were guaranteed to contain 1.5 oz. of alcohol, according to the sign at the bar.  The large number of  local policemen, having a  group dinner in the back room, kept us from extensively testing the validity of this claim.

 Before our trip I sewed up a pair of linen/cotton shorts and cotton lycra T shirt. The pattern for the shorts was Burda 12/2010 /108 pattern hemmed at knee length. I used this pattern last summer for the shorts in my  Birthday Suit.

 The printed linen cotton blend fabric was a “4 yard for $10” deal from FabricMartFabrics, purchased a couple of years ago. The print is lime green and beige. A color combo I had never considered wearing. But it is one I have seen a lot this summer, and it is starting to grow on me. And I remembered I had a necklace with stones of peridot green and beige druzy crystals.


  I also made a coordinating, wide neck, cap sleeve cotton/lycra T shirt from Vogue 1141.

Vogue 1141
Back to linen. I though Richmond was hot and humid, but Baton Rouge is much hotter and more humid, especially after the daily rain shower. 

 The wearing test  was while touring the LSU campus. The linen shorts were very comfortable. They still wrinkled but at least they did not lay on my skin, soaking up sweat and showing it in dark damp spots like the T shirt.  I don’t perspire much, even when exercising, but I did that day just walking around . 

LSU Law building

Wrinkles and damp spots

DH and I had our picture with the statue of the LSU tiger mascot.  I felt a bit disloyal to  the  Penn State Nittany lion statue of my alma mater. We also visited Mike the tiger, a real Bengal tiger who lives in a leafy, green habitat near the football stadium. He was sleeping in the shade, an appropriate activity for the weather that day. 

I had seen and admired some linen print, short and top sets on Net a Porter. 

 They were  very cute but a bit frilly.  I made a top  from a Burda envelope pattern in the same fabric as the shorts.  

Burda 6819

And now I now have my own linen short set. A bit more tailored than the N-a-P sets and in a subtle print, but something I would actually wear.

Linen print short set

  By far the most comfortable clothes I wore during our stay in Baton Rouge were loose fitting  shorts and tops of woven fabrics.  I took a bunch of the silk tanks tops I had sewn in the past, and they were cool, comfortable and looked great. I came home from my trip and made a few more,  which I will share in the next post.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

SW Whistles Shirt

My latest make is the Sewing Workshop Pattern Whistles Shirt.

 The Whistles shirt is the one in the lower left  in the above picture, with the long tapered ( whistles) flanges.  The fabric is painterly panels from Noelle Phares  printed on cotton fabric. 

Noelle Phares panel print

This shirt made in Ms. Phares's panels was the the featured garment for the May Sew Confident club. A subscription service that provides kits,, instructional videos, etc. to paying members. I am not a member of the club and already had the pattern so I went out to Noelle Phares's Etsy shop and bought 4 panels that were different than the ones offered in the kits. It was a fun exercise to lay out the pattern on the panels so that the blocks of color were pleasing  in the finished shirt.  This pattern is basically a boxy shirt with extended shoulders and the different flanges.  The pattern envelope suggested a size medium for my body measurements. I made a  size small because I do not like massive ease ( 6 inches  for a size medium) in any garments I wear, even oversize ones.  

SW Whistles shirt front

SW Whistles Shirt Back

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Burda Bustier Jan 1998 126

 I have always thought it would be interesting to sew  either a corset or bustier top. One with built in bra cups,  multiple vertical seamed sections below the bust in the rib area, and waist shaping.   I discovered that  bustiers are different that corsets. A bustier "boots" your bust, while a corset  cinches your waist. I  believe the top that I just finished is a  bustier style because it  fits the description of a bustier being "a sexy lingerie style that can be worn as outerwear."

I  found this top in an old issue of Burda  Jan -1998. 

 I was amused to see that it used some of the same pattern pieces as a dress, in the same issue, of the  type Burda often features for Octobre Fest.

I still had scraps of a blue plaid fabric leftover from making this skirt last summer. 

Nothing else was inspiring me at the time so I decided to use the scraps to make this top.  I was  able to cut all the pieces out of the scrap fabric. But then I discovered that  my plaid wasn't matching at some important seams. The plaid fabric had no right or wrong side and was an uneven plaid. In my enthusiasm  for using all the scraps, I turned some of them over to the wrong side, and carefully matched the plaid  only along the horizontal lines. Total forgetting about the uneven vertical lines.  So much for making this top from scraps. My local Hobby Lobby still had the fabric, so I bought another short length to fix my matching mishaps.  I added a foam bra cup between the outer fabric and the lining to hold the shape in the bust area and allow wearing sans bra if desired. Who are we kidding? My real reason was to add padding in that area! I made my own bra cups using  bra foam. I cut  the pattern pieces with no seam allowance, and zigzag stitched them together. 

The top looks like the inspiration photo and it fits, but I think it will be given away.  It is just not my style, even for wearing around the house. When I Show and Tell’d it at a recent zoom meeting, my ASG friends dared me to wear it to the next meeting (which will be in person - yah!) but I said only if it got me a free lunch.

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.