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 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

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 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.

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.

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 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. :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dressform question

Back in early October I received some birthday money and the recommendation that I use it to buy a nice dressform. I don't really know where to start, but know I don't want one of those flimsy adjustable types from the local fabric shop. I have about $300 (or maybe a bit more) to spend. Have you any tips or suggestions? Know of any great places to buy one? Should I save some more money to get something super nice?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

McCall's 5523 revisited - Purple tweed skirt

Okay, finally, something that's not brown or teal. Remember this sweater completed earlier this month? Well, here's the first of several garments I'm making to match. This pattern was used in September to make another skirt. I ironed out the fit issues with that one, and this time around it went together incredibly fast. Or, fast for me, that is.

This time around I used the pleated lower back. I shortened it by taking length out of the middle section, and not trimming anything off the pleats.

An invisible zipper was used and I added a full lining. This fabric came from JoAnn's Venice collection, recently purchased for 50% off, and is currently on clearance for 70% off(!). There's quite a bit of it here in San Antonio, in case anyone's interested.

Since I lined it, I couldn't decide what to do with the lower section. I just went ahead and put in the pleats like the outside. Both fabrics are pretty thin, so this didn't add any bulk. Someone asked one time why I make my linings so long. The reason is I like it to completely cover any inside raw edges. I do a sit test and make sure nothing is peeking out before it's declared finished.

Up next is a Christmas dress from a pattern that I feel has gotten an unfair bad reputation. Hopefully I'm right and it turns out pretty.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

December BWOF picks

Hopefully these posts aren't getting tiresome for y'all. I actually look back at them when I'm trying to remember which magazine a specific design was in. Plus, I always enjoy reading what others like. Mightn't you like to see what I'm interested in?

(Darn, we are back to the super tiny pictures again.) This is jacket 111. Not that I need another jacket pattern to make up, but I really like it. It has a biker/outdoorsy look to it, and the belt on the bottom is really cute.
I like both this skirt 122, and skirt 123, pictured after. I think I'll merge the two together, as I like aspects of both. I'll probably to an in-between length, with the topstitching and fly front of 122, but the plain back and no welt pockets of 123.
(See above for comments on this design.)
***Edited because I just found a black sequined fabric in my stash that would be perfect for this plainer design. So I'll probably use this pattern twice, for both the merged look described above and this one.
I love this blouse, 125, for it's off-set front tie and drop shoulders. I don't so much like the sleeve flounces, but those will be easy enough to leave off.
Dress 128 I find intriguing. I really like it, but the fabric will have to be chiffon or something equally lightweight and flowy, which is not my favorite fabric to sew with. And I'm not sure how well those gored panels will behave; whether I'd have to use french seams to get the fabric to lay flat. The magazine dress is lined with a nude color, which I find fun and flirty.
As I'm always a sucker for a puff sleeve, I think top 129 is really cute. I'll shorten in to end right below a waistband, though.
And that's it, unless I get inspired by one of you fellow Burda lovers (very possible). What do you think? Did I miss any of your favorites?

***Also edited to add that I just found the perfect fabric for design 112 in my stash. It's a white linen-look lightweight fabric with black pinstripes. I think the pinstripes will really play up the front fold, and I'll do the waistband with horizontal stripes. This will have to wait for summer, though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

BWOF 5-2009-102B - Brown brocade jacket

What'cha think? I'm in love with this jacket. It looks very fall and harvest-y to me. I especially liked the buttoning cuffs and interesting welt pockets of this design.

This pattern is top-notch. Everything lined up exactly right and the fit is superb right from the tracing paper. This is why I love BWOF so much; their patterns fit me really well without a lot of headaches.

This fabric is from JoAnn's Monaco collection which I bought online since it sold out quickly at my local store. It's just the right thickness for a jacket, so I left off a lot of the interfacing Burda "suggests". I did interface the center fronts and front/back facings.

These are two-part sleeves with the cuffs lining up with the outside seam.

The full lining is brown Ambiance. I know I've mentioned before, but I love linings. There is no finishing of the seams to be done and just a bit of hand sewing for the bottom and sleeve hems. I'm weird in that I actually enjoy hand sewing, in moderation.

The instructions for these welt pockets were A.W.F.U.L. I must have read over them at least 20 times before I gave up and just did my own thing. I did take pictures of the process and planned to do an online tutorial for it. However, blogger was not my friend yesterday, and after 45 minutes of frustration, I gave up. (I was trying to put the pictures on the left with type on the right. I kept deleting my pictures somehow.) Anyway, if anyone is truly interested in making this jacket and is perplexed about the pockets, I'll go ahead and try to post it again.

I had button issues with this jacket. In order for the button by the welt pocket to not have it's buttonhole sewn too close to the welt, you have to install an inside button and buttonhole. Okay, not a problem. But then when you sew the inside button to the inside and the outside button directly on top of it on the outside, you can't get it buttoned. My solution was to sew the inside one on first very loosely, then wrap the thread around and around, making it elevated and a little floppy. I'm sure there's a name for this technique.

Here's the sad news and why you don't see this jacket paired with any of my other wardrobe garments: it doesn't look good with them. There's too much brown present with all the brown bottoms I made. The tweed skirt does look nice, but I've no shirt to wear peeping out of the top. The jacket has to be worn closed since it's double breasted, and all the tops I made either disappear under it or have sleeves too cumbersome to be comfortable. I love the jacket, but it was the wrong pattern choice to go with everything else. And the wrong color. This just goes to show you can have a lovely array of coordinating fabrics and still not have a cohesive wardrobe.

Do I have time to make another "topper"? No. Even if I had the time I don't know what I could come up with that would pull everything together. I've sewn myself into a corner by picking these colors. I should have chosen several different shades of neutral. Or perhaps a different color scheme with more then two colors in it. Come to think of it, I should have picked one or two knits instead of all fitted garments. Or designs that were more simple then complex. I should have, but I didn't.

The good news is that with the exception of this skirt, I really love all the garments I made. So many of them do coordinate with each other. And while I'm tired of brown and teal at the moment, I know I'll like it again soon and they'll get lots of use.