Thursday, December 31, 2009

A review of 2009

Here are my goals for 2009, written on this day last year. Let's see if I met them.

1. Participate in at least one Patternreview.com sewing contest.
Well, despite my best efforts to do this, I did not achieve this goal. I'm carrying this through to 2010.

2. Make more day-to-day wear.
Yes, I did do that. I'd say about 80% of what I made was casual.

3. Learn how to sew a nice pair of pants.
Yes, I did this as well. I made a pair of capris and a pair of pants, both from the same pattern. I want to make even more pants in 2010, perhaps trying some from my Burda subscription.

4. Make more casual dresses.
Hmmm... Out of the 11 dresses I made this year, 6 of them were either casual (meaning unlined) or knit. I tried to make at least 3 more that turned out to be wadders, 2 of which were salvaged into other garments. So I'm not sure if I met this goal or not. I'll be carrying this one through to 2010 as well.

5. Make at least one of the coats I planned for 2008/2009 winter.
Nope, did not do this. And really, most of what's in my stash are jackets, not coats. I think there's only one coat pattern waiting with fabric bought.

6. Continue learning/perfecting my knitting skills. Complete at least one knitted garment every two months.
I did continue learning new knitting techniques and skills, but did not produce 6 garments this year. Only 4. However, I love each and every piece I made. I don't like to move onto another project until I'm done with the current one, and I got stuck on an ugly white monster of a sweater from February to June.

Okay, so here's what was made:
Dresses - 11
Jackets - 5
Skirts - 12
Tops - 14
Pants - 2
Vests - 1

That's a total of 45 garments! Which was very surprising to me when I added everything up. It really doesn't seem like that many items when each thing takes around a week and some turn out to be wadders.

Now, here's what I'd like to accomplish for 2010:

1. Enter at least 1 contest at Patternreview.com.

2. Make at least one jacket each month. I love to wear jackets and even to sew jackets, but often decide to make other projects instead. Which is why I have so many of them waiting in my drawers.

3. Make more knit/casual dresses.

4. Make more pants.

5. Continue learning new knitting techniques. I'm not setting a number goal for myself this next year. I like to knit on car trips and while I'm sitting with my son doing school, so I always have something going. Perhaps it will be a surprise at the end of the year to see how many FO I've completed.

Finally, I want to thank each and every person who has left a comment. I don't always get back to thank everyone, but I really do appreciate it. Have a very Happy New Year!!!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

January BWOF picks

I am mostly very uninspired by this new Burda. I like fitted garments with interesting details. These designs are mostly unfitted and simple. They aren't super ugly or unflattering, just not my style.

The line drawing for dress 109 doesn't really show you how pretty and flowing it can be, so I'm posting the magazine picture instead. I like the front tucks/button closure, skirt pleats and long sleeves. I'm not too hot for the big double pleats in the back, and would change them to match the ones in the front. Getting the right fabric would be the key.

I also sorta like this blouse, 113A. It's suppose to be made from rayon crepe (whatever that is) and stretch jersey. I like the inset front panel and drawstring waist.
But really, I'm not chomping at the bit to make either. Hopefully next month's magazine will have some fitted and detailed designs. How about you? Have any favorites from this new magazine?

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. We certainly had a good time opening presents and visiting with loads of family. However, I am relieved it's over. Now I can get back to regular life and not have so many deadlines to meet nor things to remember.

I am currently buried under a pile of mending/updating. Why does everything seem to need attention at the same time? I should have something new to show you next weekend and a yearly wrap-up later this week. Have a fabulous Sunday!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Vogue 8593 - Black knit dress w/ large pink flowers

My collection of winter dresses is extremely small. Of the 5 (!) I own, only 3 currently fit. The only one with long sleeves is my black funeral dress; the other 2 have 3/4 sleeves. Last week after a wardrobe malfunction on Sunday that resulted in my making the entire family extremely late for church, I decided I needed some new dresses. With long sleeves.

I have very average length arms. Since sleeve length has never been an issue with patterns, I didn't think to measure before I cut out the sleeves. They ended up falling right above the wrist bone, and the slightest movement resulted in high-water sleeves. So I cut them shorter, and now have yet another dress with 3/4 sleeves.

This fabric is a matte jersey purchased from Denverfabrics.com several months ago. (They currently still have some if anyone's interested.) I loved the large pink flowers, but had a hard time coming up with a pattern that was simple enough. This pattern does have a CB seam, and back darts that run all the way to the hemline. After playing around with the pattern pieces for awhile, I think I found a pleasing layout. You can hardly see the seams in the back.

Not being a huge fan of zippers in knit dresses, my first thought was to eliminate it. However, this dress has a somewhat small neckline, and there was no way I was fitting my huge melon through it. I opted for a short 8" invisible zipper to get an opening big enough.

Here's what drew me to this pattern - the neat pleated neckline:

Since I used such a short zipper, I knew the body of this dress would have to stretch over my shoulders to be put on. An invisible hem would have surely ripped out, so I opted for a double-needle stretchable hem. Not wanting a black seam on pink flowers or a pink seam on black background, I used both colors to sew the hem. It disappears at the bottom, exactly how I wanted.

I know there are lots of people that don't like facings in knits, but on this dress I think it's necessary to hold the pleats in place. I trimmed mine with black bias tape for a smooth finish. I also used bias tape to finish off the armhole exposed seam, and french seams at the shoulders and sides.

The back seam was covered with bias tape and pressed open, since it carries the zipper.

I'm off to clean my house from top to bottom. This is my 5th year to host Christmas and I love it! I did my big grocery shop yesterday and only have a few presents still to wrap. There is a jacket that I revamped and would like to show you, but haven't gotten any pictures in it yet. In case I don't get to post again until after Friday, Merry CHRISTmas to you all!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Burda 3-2009-111 - Yellow & gray floral jacket

Woot! Here's another jacket I've knocked off my humongous pile of jackets waiting to be made up. I love this issue of Burda, and I love this jacket. It's got lots of fun details and loads of topstitching. But first I must thank my super awesome sister for this fabric. It was part of JoAnn's "Cosmopolitan" line from early spring. I adore yellow and for some reason think I'm the only person who does. While sitting on my thumbs waiting for a good sale, it completely sold out! I was very bummed, but thought perhaps Elisa's JoAnn's in Houston might still have some. They did, she bought it for me, and here it is!

Here at the back you can see the cute half-belt. There's topstitching down the sleeves, around the neckline, and across the belt. I used heavy duty polyester thread and my machine's walking foot. I first tried red and then white topstitching thread, but settled on black in the end. I wanted it to be contrasting but not distracting from the already bright print.

I really liked the curved collar and lapels, patch pockets with flaps, and front and back yoke.



The instructions have you cut a lining for the pockets out of lining fabric. This makes the pocket lining visible from the front, since it is sewn on top of the jacket. I opted to cut the pocket linings from fashion fabric to eliminate any view of gray lining.

The lining is gray Ambiance. I changed the center-back lining into one solid piece, instead of having a CB yoke and lower CB. That way I could raise the back pleat to act as an actual ease pleat. Notice how low the lining sits. This is because the middle front lining was cut from lining fabric - as per the instructions - and extends all the way to the bottom hem. I couldn't very well attach the rest of my lining higher or it would look funny. What I'd do differently is cut the middle front lining from fashion fabric, and attach the rest of the lining in typical jacket fashion.

Okay, so you've probably noticed my change in hairstyles. I've had bangs off and on pretty much my whole life. After college I grew them out since I was always mistaken for an intern at my job. You might not can tell, but I have loads of freckles. Freckles + bangs = baby face. But now in my 30's I'm starting to get gray hairs left and right and other wobbly bits. I know I'm not old, but I no longer feel really young. Wanting to try something different, I'm going with bangs once again. They might be grown out into side bangs eventually as I'm not sure I'm in love with them.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The easy way to ease in sleeves - picture heavy

Hi there! I got several requests last time for tutorials on my seam finishing techniques. These have already been done! Here is the tutorial for french seams, and here is the tutorial for bias tape covered seams. You can look through any of the tutorials I've already posted by clicking on "tutorials" under the label section on the right side.

Do you dread easing in sleeves.? I use to get so tired of ripping out the seam when puckers were discovered after it'd been stitched. How frustrating! Let me show you a trick to make this process a whole lot easier:

1. Start with a sleeve that has it's vertical seam sewn and seam allowances pressed open. This is the two piece sleeve from my current project.

2. Put at least two rows of gathering stitches around the sleeve head. If you have markings that tell you to gather between here and there, that is where you should stitch. (This is a Burda pattern, and they always have minimal markings. I eyeballed it.) I usually put one row at 1/2" from the edge and the other at 1/4". Make sure to leave the threads long so you have something to grasp onto when gathering.

3. Do some preliminary gathering, starting at each outside edge and gathering in to the top of the sleeve cap. I know this jacket does not have a tall sleeve cap, so I'll just do a little bit.

4. Begin pinning the sleeve to the armhole with the body of the garment on top and the sleeve underneath. Start at the bottom and pin up the sides until you come to where the sleeve's gathering stitches start. STOP pinning here.

5. Here's the trick: Turn the sleeve cap out and pin the rest of it with the sleeve on top and the garment underneath. I like to use a lot of pins. The more pins you use, the more evenly spaced your gathers will be, and the lesser the chance of sewing in the dreaded puckers.

6. Start stitching the sleeve cap starting at the beginning of your gathering stitches. Since you pinned it on the inside and are sewing it on the inside, you can see where any possible puckers might be caught. Adjust your fabric to avoid stitching one. (I am very naughty and often sew over my pins. But I use to many of them I just can't take each out as I come to it. I only break a needle about 2 times a year, so it works for me.)

7. Now, before moving on, check the sleeve cap for any puckers that might have been stitched. Push the seam allowance out toward the sleeve. If you have any puckers, go back and fix them now. These tiny ones on my sleeve will iron out.

8. Now stitch the bottom of the sleeve starting at where you left off on the side.

9. A lot of times the bottom of the sleeve can get some wonky/wavy seams while you are sewing it. It is always best to measure around the bottom to make sure you have an accurate seam allowance.

10.Since this jacket is going to be lined, I will show you a few more steps. Before doing any trimming, try the jacket on. If it needs any adjustments, now is the time. Mine fits well, so the next step is to grade the seams. I trim only the SA of the body. The ruffled-looking gathered fabric remaining will help to support the sleeve cap. Or at least it will on this jacket since my fabric has a lot of body.

11. Now clip the bottom of the sleeve's seam allowances. When the lining goes in, it will be able to lie flat against the armpit.

12. After all that work, don't you dare forget to iron! Use some elbow grease for a crisp seam.

13. All done!

This might not be the quickest nor the fastest method for putting in a sleeve, but you are guaranteed to spend less time with your seam ripper in hand.

All this jacket needs is some shoulder pads and the entire lining to be cut out and sewn in. And some hand-stitching. And buttons/buttonholes. Oh, and topstitching. Yikes! I have a long way to go! But, I tell you, there's nothing I enjoy working on more then a lined garment in woven fabric. Call me crazy.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How to sew tight curves

Making sure your garment is well pressed is the number one most important key to achieving clothes that look well made. Trimming the seams to make them lie as flat as possible is the number two. I'll demonstrate with a pocket flat from my current project, another jacket.

1. Sew the two pieces together, right sides facing in.

2. This is called "grading the seams". Or at least, that is what my mother calls it. You want to neatly trim at least one side of your seam allowance a shorter width then the other. I always trim them both.
***I grade all seams that are sewn and then turned to the inside, like facings, collars, sleeve tabs, pocket flaps, lapels, etc. Anywhere there are two or more layers side by side and not pressed open.

3. Now, clip the curves. I use to just put a single clip in, but have discovered in the last 6 months that if you cut notches in tight curves, they lay a lot flatter. The tighter the curve, the more notches it needs.

4. Now turn to the outside and pin. I am a crazy pinning machine.
***Oops, after you pin, then you give it a good pressing.
*****You pin to get a crisp outer edge to what you're working on.

5. Ta da!

I want to do more tutorial type posts but don't know if you find them interesting or have any requests. I think Angie asked me recently about inserting linings in skirts, and the next time I sew one I plan to take pictures of the process. Is there anything else you'd like to see a tutorial on?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Online Thanksgiving sales

A few weeks ago a bunch of the online fabric stores were having sales, and I decided there were some fabrics I could no longer live without.

These first two are from Gorgeous Fabrics. They only cut in whole yard increments, but always seem to be generous on most items (except for silks, as I've noticed.) So, I tend to buy 60" wide fabrics from them, and only get 1 yard. On the left is a stretch sateen in red, white, navy and tan. I'm planning to use Butterick 5351 view A to make a little dress for summer, which will match perfectly with this jacket. The one on the right is a thin white cotton called Instantly Heirloom Cotton. I'm thinking a summer tunic of some sort, maybe with 3/4 sleeves. No pattern has been selected.

These next two are also from Gorgeous Fabrics. The turquoise & yellow snake print is a jersey knit. No plans for it yet. The one on the right is a thin silk chiffon. It makes your eyes a little crossed to look at it all folded up, since you are seeing multiple layers from the top. I'm thinking Butterick 5355 view D, but not with the contrast neck binding. This will look great over white linen pants for summer.

All the others are from Fabricmartfabrics.com. They had 20% off everything, and there were a few things there that I've had my eye on for awhile. This first one is a slinky Maggie London border print knit. I've laid it out on my couch to show you the whole thing. It's very wide. This will have to be used for some sort of simple t-shirt. Perhaps I will include a neck binding of the solid mauve, so I'm not washed out by all that flesh color at the top. Or maybe I need a simple dress in order to utilize the flowers on the bottom.

I splurged on some fabulous silks, which they have wonderful prices on. This is an Anna Sui tie dyed China silk fabric, now sold out. I think the vertical vertebrae looking design is really interesting. I have no idea of what to do with it yet, but do have a little over 2 yards to work with. Maybe a fall/spring top with long sleeves? Suggestions???

Here are the other two silks, also Anna Sui designs. Does anyone know who exactly Anna Sui is? I confess ignorance in the area of fashion designers or labels. It would be interesting to see what she did with the same fabrics if she's got a collection somewhere. Maybe I should just search the web for that information... Well, anyway, the one on the left is a fun wide stripe of patriotic colors. I am planning a bias skirt, with seams of diagonal stripes meeting on the sides and the center front/center back. I use to have the perfect pattern for this, but can't seem to find it. These stripes will make cutting on the bias a snap. On the right is a silk I couldn't pass up, with stripes and embroidered butterflies along both selvages. I purchased 2.5 yards because it is somewhat narrow. No designs are springing to mind for this, either.

Did you happen to know that yellow is my second favorite color? I love it and am buying quite a few cuts of it lately. On the left is a polyester charmeuse that I bought for it's gorgeous print. A blouse? A dress? Not sure. The right side is a yellow cotton velveteen bought for Burda 11-2009-119, which I would link for you but it's in archive limbo land on their site. It's actually a little paler than desired. But since it's made of cotton, I thought I could dye it a darker yellow without any problems. However, draped over it is another yellow I happen to have in the stash, which matches perfectly. A monochromatic yellow ensemble might be a really great look. Thoughts?

Augh! I am buying fabrics faster than I can make garments!!! Why can't I help myself?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Simplicity 2608 - Red knit sparkly skirt

A big thank you to everyone who chimed in on the dressform question! I will definitely be making a purchase with that information in mind.

Here's the dress pattern I wrote about that I thought had received an unfair bad reputation. It's Vogue 1056, which I bought because I loved the interesting neckline. I decided to add 3 inches to the bottom and make the sleeves 1.5 inches longer. And I was so sure this was going to turn out beautifully, I didn't bother with a muslin. (Well, I guess I just about never bother with a muslin, to be honest.)

In reality, it turned out looking like this. I really don't know what I did wrong. The fabric is a stable matte jersey, but the neckline looks baggy and stretched out. I let it out here, took it in there. Nothing was working! (I hesitate to give this a bad review. It has been made without such droopy results. If you are interested in making this, I recommend a muslin to get the perfect fit before you cut into and ruin your fabric.)

Not to be defeated, and because I loved this fabric and kept it lovingly in my stash for over 3 years, I decided to comb through my pattern stash to see if anything I had might work for the remains.

Ta da! Turns out I love this pattern! It's just a simple knit skirt with an elastic waist, but with the folded over waistband, it doesn't look like an elastic-waisted garment. And because there's three layers of knit at the waistband, shirts with buttons can easily be tucked into it without showing through.

(That's my yellow Jasmine on the deck railing- a spring bloomer - putting on flowers in the middle of December! Crazy plant.)

Here at the inside you can see the elastic casing. I probably should have used french seams to encase this scratchy glittered fabric, but I thought it might be too bulky, and was scared to ruin the last little bit of my fabric. I zigzagged the waist seam allowance down. This is visible on the right side, but not with the folded-over waistband.


This is not what I was intending to make, but I'm happy to have saved some of the fabric and make a wearable garment from it. I also learned that I love this pattern and plan to use it a few more times.

***Edited to add that in order to have enough fabric for the skirt, I had to cut up the dress. So fixing it isn't an option at this point. :)