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.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

BWOF 8-2009-121 - Brown twill skirt w/ front pockets - Wardrobe contest garment #8

(pattern used for skirt only)

This is the last of the bottoms for the wardrobe contest! Originally I was going to do some crop pants with this fabric, but I'm a little out of time to try to fit another pair of pants. Also, the other brown skirt I made is a bit dressier, so I thought a casual skirt to go with all the tops would make a great addition. I'm wearing this top with the skirt.

I can't resist designs with interesting construction lines, and this one has them in spades. The fabric is a stretch heavy-weight twill. If I had it to do over again, I would use a thinner fabric. The side panels extend into the inside pockets, and with another layer of fabric at the CF, the pockets bunch a bit when I'm walking around. It's not unbearable and I'll definitely wear it. Just FYI if you are planning to make it.

I love a skirt with a back yoke. If you click on the picture, you can see two darts taken on either side of the CB not present on the blackline drawing. Without them, that yoke was terribly poochy when the waistband was attached. I had more fabric; I could have cut another yoke. But I couldn't figure out how to fix the problem without adding the darts. In the end I think they look fine and don't distract at all from the design lines. The back waistband fit onto the back skirt much better with the darts in place, so perhaps that was an oversight on Burda's part.

Here's a close-up of the front. I had to fiddle around with my machine to figure out the pocket thread bars.

I love that the zipper extends up into the waistband. I think I'll do this on other skirts with side zippers. It's much less bulky then a tab closure and you don't have to fiddle with hooks and eyes.

Back close-up:

I used two whole packages of bias tape for this project because of the many vertical seams. This skirt was to be casual and I didn't want to line it.

Here you can see the small back darts made to the back yoke. The bottom inside waistband was folded up and slip-stitched in place.

8 Down, 2 to go!!! I am currently working on the "topper": 5-2009-102B. It's going really well and I'm very excited about it. I should be finished with that by next weekend, and then I have only a very easy sheer top to finish things off. Whew!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Something was missing...

Look closely. Notice anything different?

After I finished this blouse and hung it in my closet, I found myself looking at it and thinking something wasn't quite right. It looked sad, if that makes any sense to you. Like it was missing something. I remembered one of the reasons I originally liked the design was for the sleeve tabs. (They had been left off because at 1 1/4" wide with a squared-off top, the small buttons I used didn't compliment the scale. They looked funny to me.) And then I got to thinking what a shame it was that the sleeve tabs didn't work out. Hmmm... What if I made them 7/8" wide instead? Perhaps with an angled top?

And with just the smallest of additions, I now love this blouse.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Amanda's Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan - in eggplant

Another knit is finished! I'm getting closer and closer to my 2009 goal of 6 knits for the year. This pattern is Wendy Bernard's "Marilyn's Not-So-Shrunken Cardigan". In all honesty it wasn't even on my radar to make. But then I saw Lynn's awesome pink cardigan made this past summer, and I had to have one. I already had this yarn in my extremely small stash from last year and the printed gauge was the same, so I went for it. By the way, I made this fun white blouse in January. Isn't it the perfect top for wearing under this sweater? I love the look!

The yarn is Knit Pick's Merino style 100% wool and it is super warm. I feel like I have discovered a new thing in wool sweaters. They just don't seem to sell them much in Texas, or perhaps they've been out of my price range. Anyway, I hate to be cold, even with our light southern winters, so wool sweaters are great to have on hand.

This pattern is suppose to be looser - hence the name - but I wanted something more form-fitting. I separated the sleeves from the body at 9" diagonally from the CO edge, instead of the called for 10". I just knew this would be a perfect fit. When I finally tried it on after I had done the bottom ribbing, I thought it was a bit snug. Hmmm. I guess I'll check my gauge now. Instead of getting 22 stitches per 4 inches per the pattern, I was getting 24 stitches! Duh! Totally a rookie mistake. I ended up knitting a wider button band and putting the ruffle directly on it. It was still snug, but not too bad.

And then do you know what happened?! I washed it and blocked it and the thing grew to the perfect size!!! Huh? Is this normal behavior for wool fibers? Do you knitters out there expect your wool to grow and knit sweaters smaller because of it? I'd really like to know, because while I know a lot about the behavior of fabrics, I know nothing about yarns.

Aren't these ruffles cute? Thanks, Lynn, for sharing your great modifications. I found the perfect buttons at JoAnn's. After I made both button band and buttonhole band and tried to close it, the buttons kept popping out. I had to go back with needle and thread and whip-stitch around the buttonholes for reinforcement. I'm just learning new knitting techniques left and right with this one!

I chose this purple yarn because I love the color but don't have anything like it in my closet. I also have some wonderful matching fabrics built up to make coordinating garments with, if I ever get finished with the wardrobe contest.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

NewLook 6563 - Teal floral blouse w/ front tucks - Wardrobe contest garment #7

Woot! Another garment for the PR Wardrobe Contest is completed and there's finally some light to get the photos taken in. I originally planned to use this fabric with McCall's 5809, but it turned out to be a wadder so I had to find something else. This pattern has been in my stash for years; I'm not sure what took me so long to make it up. The fabric is a polyester chiffon from JoAnn's that I bought earlier in the year. It was part of their Monaco collection that I bought quite a few cuts of. Here is the post for the pants.

These sleeves are so pretty and feminine with their long flowy shape and gathers at the sleeve heads and bottom band. They look peasant-y to me like my most recent wadder, only without the ginormous amount of width.

This was suppose to be a bit more loose fitting. I measured the pattern piece before I cut it out, but forgot to subtract the 6 front tucks. Oh well, I love it anyway.

Here you can see the front tucks, button-and-loop closures, and slightly ruffly peplum. Didn't I luck out with the buttons? They are the perfect size and color. I did a bunch of little tweaks to this design:
1. Added 1/2" to the bottom of the bodice
2. Added 1/4" to the bottom of the peplum pieces. They only allow 3/8" hem and those are fiddly to sew, especially on a curve
3. Added a fabric inset along the button line to prevent exposing my skin
4. Took a 5/8" seam along the neckline instead of the 3/8" of the pattern - again, fiddly to sew

Here's the before-mentioned fabric inset. Why don't they include this in the pattern pieces or instructions? Without it, the slightest move exposes skin and/or undergarments.

This is the super skinny bottom sleeve band. I have been scared of these in the past, especially if it's bias cut. But this time around I compared it to the pattern piece and then starched it. I used three lines of gathering stitches for the sleeve bottoms and sleeve caps and had no problem making the gathers evenly spaced.

This pattern did call for bias tape to finish off the neckline edge, which I love to do. I also added it along the sleeve seam for a pretty finish. I again had luck with finding the right shade of teal for the bias tape.

I did french seams throughout. This picture is of the side seam and peplum side seam. If your fabric isn't too see-through you can alternate ironing the seam to the front and then the back. This cuts down on bulk.

I've got several other things to show you later, but for now I must go sew. This contest is kicking my butt!!! Poor Justin is playing with the kids all day today to give me more time at the machine.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Why I love Macy's

Warning: The following post has nothing to do with sewing!

It's a well know fact to people that know me that I love Macy's. Pretty much everything I wear that's not hand made has been bought there. I have their credit card. They send me tons of coupons. I love them. However, often times when I go there with friends or family members, there's slim pickings. So just to prove it to you/them, here is what I purchased on a recent trip there with some birthday money.

(Oh, I feel I must tell you that I am not a brand name person. I care about good quality fabrics, things that are well made, and garments with great fit, but not about who's name is on the label. I have included that information only in case there's interest.)

Here's a great black denim jacket from Charter Club complete with pocket piping, interesting topstitching, and Hong Kong finishes for the inside seams. It's a great staple item that I was lacking.
Original price $60.00 - Marked down to $18.00 - With a coupon $11.00 (I can't even buy the fabric for that!)

Up next, a lightweight cotton tunic from Sunny Leigh with very well done white embroidery. It's a little more fitted then the typical tunic. I thought it would be great next summer with my white linen pants. And, as I don't own an embroidery machine, it's not something I could make.
Original price $59.00 - Marked down to $17.70 - With a coupon $10.70

This red rayon/spandex blend top from Sunny Leigh is perfect for wearing as a shell under jackets this fall and winter. It has sequins sewn down the front and a cute tie in the middle. I've only ever embellished one thing before, and that was a lot of work.
Original price $49.00 - Marked down to $7.35 - With a coupon $4.35

Next up is the exact same top as the red one above, in brown. Same prices apply.

And finally a simple black shell from Style&Co (Macy's store brand) that I was needing. It's mostly nylon with some spandex thrown in. The front fabric is doubled for a nice, smooth look.
Original price $24.00 - Marked down to $3.60 (They don't take coupons for their store brand)

The coupon I used was a $20 off a $50 purchase - (you have to have their credit card to receive these in the mail.) With tax, the total came to $36.76. Not a bad haul, right? I think they have better prices for clothing than discount stores, you don't have to comb through racks and racks of clothing, and the customer service and cleanliness of the store is really great.

Now, don't everyone flock to the Macy's I go to and buy up all the good stuff, kay? :)