Saturday, September 29, 2007

Hot Patterns AD Prudence Blouse

Why, oh why do I keep thinking I will like Hot Patterns? I guess it's because their styles are so cute. I had nothing but problems with this blouse. Many of the problems were my own fault, but there were some serious errors in this pattern in my opinion.

First of all, as stated in my last post, there were problems with the back piece. Well, now that it is assembled, I can see problems with the front too. The sides near the arms need to be lifted up because there is an ugly horizontal "pleat" where there is too much fabric.

If I were to make this again, which I seriously doubt I will, I would make a sloping shoulder adjustment. I don't usually have to do that, but this top really gaps at the shoulder. I would also narrow the shoulders as well.

And speaking of the arms, you will notice that mine has no sleeves. Well, the pattern for the sleeve has no notches or marking indicating which is front or back. So, I looked at the curve of the arms at the bottom of the sleeve and matched the steeper curve with the back, since that seemed to have a steeper curve on the bodice. When I tried to pin in the sleeves (the pattern says to match the top notch with the shoulder seam, but there are no notches!) nothing would line up. What I had determined to be the top center had to be moved way over in order for it to fit. Now, this should have been my first clue that maybe the sleeve was in backwards.

Also, the sleeves are put in flat, so there is no way to really tell how they will fit until after the side seams are sewn in. And, being the good seamstress that I am, I double sewed the seams. Well, when I tried on the top, the sleeves felt like they were in backward and I couldn't move my arms. So, I took the sleeves out and switched them and set one in with machine basting. This felt better, but as you can see in this picture, they look terrible. There was negative ease in the sleeve to begin with, and for some reason, it wants to dent in near the sleeve cap. It looked even worse on me than it does on Myrtle. So, I ended up removing the sleeves all together and binding them with bias tape.

The other thing I don't like about this blouse is the yoke application. It's cool in that you end up encasing the bodice without having to do any hand sewing or stitching in the ditch, but the problem with it is that you can't get a smooth finish where the yoke wraps around the bodice. You can see two little places where it pokes out just above the ties.

I really like the effect of the topstitching that I did, and I really wanted to do it on the sleeves... but I don't have any sleeves!

Well, the only picture I have of the finished blouse is this blurry one that I tried to take in the mirror. I will try to get a better pic. Even with the problems, I like this top and I think it will be nice and comfortable.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm obviously missing something

Here's a picture of what I got done yesterday. I was happy with what I got done yesterday, considering all the unsewing I had to do for the ties.

I'm working on my HP blouse this evening, but have run into a snag. The pattern picture clearly shows 5 lines, evenly spaced, going down the back.
The pattern directions say to fold the pleats toward the side seams. The pattern piece also shows this configuration. But this is impossible to do and end up with a line down the middle as shown in the line drawing.

The only way I could create a line down the middle was to make an inverted box pleat there, but now all five lines are not evenly spaced. I tried folding the pleats in a different direction, but then the tops of the pleats dont match for the cutting. Something definitely isn't right here - or maybe I'm missing something obvious (?)

I've lined the yoke up to the pleats the way I have them, and I think it will work. I still don't think it is "right" though. Can you look at the pictures and tell me what you think I may be doing wrong?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

HP AD Prudence Blouse

This blouse pattern is inspired by Stella McCartney and I really like the looks of it - well the line drawing at least. I'm always looking for cute top patterns, so I'm hoping this one will work out. I got it cut out yesterday and did a little sewing on it. Today I did the front pleats and facings. Only after understitching the facings did I realize that I put the ties in the wrong place! So, I spent the last 1/2 hour ripping all of that out and putting them where they belong. I'm making this out of white muslin and I like the way it is turning out so far. HP patterns are not really for the beginner. I think their instructions are confusing and there are no diagrams. Phrases like "bag out the ties " and "with yokes inside out, sandwich the pleated parts of the front and back of the blouse inside the yokes... you will have fronts and backs tucked up inside the yokes..." and more, make it a little confusing. I hope it all makes sense as I'm doing it. I tried to take pix, but my camera battery needs to be charged - so for now we have the Hot Patterns version to look at.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

I Love a Storm

Well, I didn't take this picture, but that's what it looks like at my house tonight!

I did get a little sewing done today and finished my Simplicity blouse. I've made this before, but this time I used totally different fabric and used different sleeves. I have a blouse that has satin trim binding at the neck and I liked that look. Also, I thought this fabric would make me look too washed out without a little contrast, so I made the yoke out of lining fabric and cut bias strips to bind the sleeve hems. I really like the way it turned out and it's pretty comfortable. This would probably make a good pajama top!

I have way too much school work to do, but I'd really rather be sewing something. I am so excited; Cidell is sending me something in the mail. shhhhhh - it's a secret :-)

So, the picture below was taken a couple of hours ago. Now it's raining with thunder and lightning!

I've Been Tagged

Well, Maureen tagged me. So, I need to list 8 things about myself that most of you will not know.
1. I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area
2. I was a "Rainbow Girl" when I was in highschool
3. I am married to a wonderful man who happens to be blind.
4. I used to be a pretty good guitar player until I got rheumatoid arthritis
5. I secretly want to be a famous singer
6. I have one brother who is a retired marine and one who is a "rock star"
7. If I could live anywhere, I'd live in the mountains
8. I'm almost finished with my masters degree in educational technology

Well, I'm tagging these people just because I'd like to know more about them.
Erica B
Debbie Cook

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Style Check

If you haven't checked out the BBC What Not to Wear website, you really should. The have some fun tools to play around with like a style barometer, What TO wear, style guide, and more. If you've ever seen the BBC show, you know that they're a lot more "down to earth" shall we say, that the US version. Though I love watching Stacy and Clinton, I'll never have that VISA card they give nor the High end stores to shop in. After all, this is rural America where I live. High end shopping in Visalia is Penny's and Gottschalks. (I know, I never heard of it either until I moved here) Isn't the Internet wonderful? We have everything at our fingertips - except for that darned VISA card. Will someone PLEASE nominate me to Stacy and Clinton???

I've been trying to work out a wardrobe plan for fall/winter and think I'm going to end up doing a couple of smaller wardrobe plans because what I have so far is this:

The Grays plus burgundy/eggplant
gray wool for jacket and pants
black and white mini houndstooth for jacket and pants
burgundy wool for skirt
charcoal knit for dress and cardigan
"Latte tweed" for jacket - grays and tans
several knits that will go with this

The Greens

Black and Green tweed/boucle for jacket
Dark olive green wool for cape
olive and tan tweed for skirt (this olive is so subdued it would go with gray)
A green and black mini plaid cotton for a dress

The Blues
Navy wool gab for swing coat
navy wool crepe for jumper/dress (the one pictured at the top)
cornflower wool crepe for yoked jacket and pencil skirt
(Plus I already have navy slackes and wool blazer.)

I'm still going through my stash binder to see what will go with these combinations. I'm also pulling patterns so that I can have a plan.

THe weather started getting cooler today. I don't think it even reached 80. Still not cool enough to wear my wool jacket yet! I have been working on a blouse and am anxious to see how it will turn out. I've made this before out of cotton, but this is a poly silky and I'm adding satin trim to the sleeves and neckline. I think I'll be able to finish it this weekend

Monday, September 17, 2007

I need to clone myself

Well, DH is out of town for the week, so my thought was - "Wow! I can really get some sewing done. So... let's look at the schedule

(picture courtesy

Monday - give presentation at night class. Class is from 4-7:30. I did happen to squeeze in a trip to JoAnns to get buttons for the coat I am NOT making my daughter (I'll tell that story later)
Tuesday - Staff meeting after school. Dr's appt at 4:00. Masters cadre 4:30-7.
Wednesday - LA committee meeting after school. Physical Therapy 4-5:30 (Maybe I can squeeze in some sewing this night!)
Thursday - CTA dinner 4-7. Come home and make dessert for Friday night
Friday - bible study at my house. Oh, shouldn't I have cleaned the house first?

I also need to manage to read a chapter or two in my book for class and write a "Mission Statement" before next Monday. And when WILL I grade all those papers??? I need to call in sick and have a play day!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

I really needed this today

Today was a tough day - no particular reason. BUT tonight - I read on Sigrids blog that she nominated me for Rockin Girl BLogger! It's so nice to know that other people enjoy the blog! Now I really have no idea how this works, but I know I'm up for nominating 5 people. I have no idea who has already been nominated, so even if you've been nominated before, right click on this picture, copy the image location, and add it to your sidebar! There are so many awesome and inspiring blogs out there and I need to remember to link to blogs from other blogs to see more and more of what's out there. But, for now, some of my favorites and my nominations are:
1. Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic I love your blog.
2. Cidell at Miss Celie's Pants - OK, I know you've been nominated - but since I read your blog every day, I want to see that button in your sidebar :-)
3. Maureen at Photos by Meg - my dear friend and favorite photographer
4. Elaray at Another Creation you;ve been a long time supporter and I love your blog
5. Tany at et Tricot
There are several other blogs I check all the time, but I know you guys have been nominated zillions of times - so get those buttons on your sidebars! Yes - that's you Erica, Sigrid, Laura, Divas...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

I need to find another job...

...that will pay me to stay home! Work really is cutting into my personal life LOL! Monday was night class (which I could, and may, do a lengthy rant about some day)and last night I had a parent conference at 6:00 and had to do my back to school night at 7 since I had laryngitis on the regularly scheduled night. I have so many projects I want to do, but can't seem to get to them. This is what's on my cutting table right now. Most recently, I purchased the fabric to make this coat for my daughter. She wanted a camel colored wool, and I actually found some at JoAnns and using a coupon got a great deal. I will only put on the fur collar if I can find something the right color that feels really good. This is from the November 2004 BWOF But, this will have to wait until the weather gets cooler because there is still a lot of warm weather clothes I want to finish. It will be hot here until at least mid-October, so I'd like to get going on these projects.

I just finished a shrug and dress for Grace from
McCAlls 5144, but have yet to get her picture in them. These are some shots of what I did though.

I actually bought the pattern to make a brown shrug for myself. But when I saw this nice black rayon/lycra knit at JoAnn's, I knew I had to make this for Grace. I made her's a small and it was way too big. So, eventhough my measurements should be a medium, I will make this for myself in a small. I have the fabric all ready to go (although I couldn't find the same fabric in brown as I did for Grace)and now just need a 20 minutes to cut it out! It will sew together really quickly.

Well, I am excited because I just received these in the mail.

I am going to make a muslin out of white muslin for the Stella McCartney inspired Artful Dodger blouse and hopefully I'll be able to wear it. If it works, then I'm going to make it out of this Anna Sui print that I got from Fabricmart some time back.

Last week I purchased a pretty mauve print silky and some eggplant satin-like fabric (for the yoke) to make this pattern. I want to make the short sleeved version, so I hope I can get this done first. I still have a few other tops I want to make as well, and I want to do them first because they usually are quick and easy.

AND, I still want to make this BWOF dress from March 2007

Sunday, September 02, 2007

BWOF 5/06 Jacket- Finished!

Yay! I'm finally finished. I have a full review here
Oh, the reason I'm smiling so big in these pictures is because my 84 year old dad was taking the pix. His first foray with a digital camera. Yes, I was cracking up!

Pressing Issues

I am always pleased when people can't believe that I've made a garment, or when they say something like, "your clothes never look home-made." Well, I tell them the secret is that I spend more time at the ironing board than at the sewing machine! I think it's true - so today I thought I would share my indispensable pressing tools.

First, is my sleeve board. Although it is very useful for pressing finished garments, I rarely use it when I'm constructing a garment. This one I purchased used on ebay and then made the covers. I have a review on how to do it here.
So, although this tool is one that most sewists are likely to own, it is probably the one I use least.

The tool I use most (besides the iron) is my ham. This is a dressmakers ham and I have had it for about 20 years or so. The ones I've seen in stores are a bit smaller. A tailor's ham is actually bigger and a little bit differently shaped, since they are designed for pressing men's suits. I use my ham for pressing anything curved or creating a curve (such as a dart.) It is perfect for pressing the bust area, sleeve caps, armscyes, neclines, or anything that is not perfectly straight or flat. If I were to lose my ham, I would go out and buy another one immediately.

Speaking of which, that is exactly what I had to do with my clapper. I bought my clapper (the smaller of the two shown) around the same time I bought my ham, and somehow I lost it last year. I looked all over the internet and in stores, but could not find another one like the one I had. I finally found one on ebay and bought it. I learned the beauty of this tool from one of Nancy Zeiman's books (Probably The Busy Wonan's Sewing Book - but it could have been one of her others.) Clappers were originally desiged to pound down difficult seams in lofty fabrics such as wool. I don't use mine that way. When I press a seam open, I put the clapper(s) on top of the seam and let it sit there until the seam cools. The hardwood of the clapper absorbs heat and moisture and makes a great seam press. I often use both clappers together to set longer seams. I also press seams on my ham with the clapper after using the iron. It really does make a difference.

Now that I'm making more jackets, I couldn't live without my tailor's board. This board has a variety of curves and straight edges for pressing. They do have pads and covers available, but I use mine naked. (the board, not me)
I use this tool whenever I need to press an enlosed seam or very curved seam. You can get into small spots and tricky places with this tool. Whenever I have an enclosed seam, I press it 3 times. First I press it closed (right sides together). Then I press it open. Then I turn it right sides out and press it again. This gives you much more control over your seams and and a much nicer finished press.

In the top picture you will notice a long piece of wood dowel. This is my seam stick. I made this one long so I could use it with pants, but a shorter version would be much handier. This one is 36" and is great for pants seams. I just used a strip of muslin, wrapped it around the stick and stitched it on. I have another piece of dowel (like you would use in a closet) that I will cut to a 24" length and cover it. The seam stick is perfect for pressing a seam when all you want pressed is the seam itself. This prevents the outline of the seam allowance from showing through on the right side of the garment.

Also in the above picture is my pressing cloth. I have used several different types of pressing cloths, but this is my favorite - and the cheapest! It is just a piece of silk organza. It tends to ravel, so I like to cut the edges with pinking shears. silk organza can withstand high heat and it is very easy to see through, so you can see exactly what you are pressing. I usually just pin a corner of it to my ironing board so it is always right there when I need it.

Last but not least, is my iron. I had an old Proctor Silex iron that was heavy and I loved it- until DH knocked it off the ironing board in the bathroom one day and burned the floor with it. Burned linoleum does not make a good ironing sole plate! I was determined NOT to buy a Rowenta after hearing so many poor reviews. I bought a Shark and loved it for about 3 weeks. Then it started spitting and sputtering on my fabric and not steaming when I wanted it to. I took it back and got another of the same figuring that I had a lemon. Same story - worked great for a few weeks then started the same old thing. Well, to make an old long story short, I ended up with the Rowenta PowerDuo and I love it. I have had it almost a year and no problems.

I have an old cheap ironing board, but I re-padded it and put a new cover on it once in awhile. It works fine. Other "tools" on my board are
1. My Gingher G5 Tailors scissors - I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE them!
2. Spray bottle with water
3. Pin cushion or magentic holder
4. water soluble marking pen
5. seam guage or 6" ruler.
6. Fray Check
7. rolled up piece of wool to use as a dauber