Saturday, December 31, 2011

SWAP 2012

The SWAP (Sewing With a Plan) has begun over on Stitcher's Guild, and I'm in. The emphasis for this year's swap is to make garments that are well-fitted and will become TNT (Tried and True) patterns. 2 garments can be previously sewn, and here are the basic rules:
Choose any seven garments from this list:

Button Down Shirt w/Collar
Blouse or shirt (collar is optional)
Shorts or Capri Pants
Jacket (jean jacket, windbreaker, hoodie, etc.)
Coat (suit or sport coat)
Overcoat or Raincoat
Bathing Suit & Coverup

From those seven, choose four to make twice for a total of 11 garments that will work together. Those four may either be repeated garments from the same pattern, or one each from two different patterns.

You can see the complete rules here.

I think I've only actually completed one swap, although I have attempted a few. I'm hoping to "make it work" this year. I did not do 2 of the garments ahead of time, so that means I need to really get busy. I did make a "practice pair" of the pants and the Licorice dress. I have also made the coat before, but it is much too big now. I think it was a little too big when I made it the first time! Wow, I just looked back through the blog to find the picture of the coat and realized that it's been 5 years since I made that coat. I guess it is time to replace it. The new one will be a plain taupe colored wool. However, I LOVE the fabric of my gray coat and wish there were some way to salvage it. I guess I could take the whole thing apart and try to recut it. That would probably all work fine except for the buttonholes will make it tricky to recut the coat. And, I don't know that I'd ever be able to match up the pattern again either.

Well, for this year, this is what I'm planning..

The Burda jacket I also made years ago. I'm thinking about taking the Classic French Jacket class at Pattern Review. The class is $53.00 for memebers. One of my early Christmas presents was the Threads archive DVD set, so I may just follow the instructions in the past issues of threads on how to make a Chanel jacket. I haven't decided yet, but need to since the class starts on Jan 5th.

Friday, December 30, 2011

New Year's Top

Let's hope. I traced the pattern and am ready to cut out. I want to finish this top to wear tomorrow night.
I've had this beautiful stretch velvet in my stash for a couple of year and never knew what to make of it. It is so pretty. The glitter parts are a copper color. The velvet is a deep black. I have no idea what it is made of and am not even going to prewash it!
I'm using the Silhouette's Pattern "Dana's Top" to do this one. I was surprised when tracing the pattern to find out that the sleeves are 2 piece. Well, they are two piece, but both pieces are identical. I may see if I can line these up with a fold and cut them as one, since I don't see the advantage of the 2 piece sleeve if they are identical. Let me know if I'm missing something here.
You can see there are some vertical and horizontal lines on the fabric, but they don't line up or continue all the way across the fabric. Sometimes they just stop and other lines are in different places. I'm not sure if I'm going to try to line anything up at all.
Wish me luck!

Little Shoes and a great iron cleaner

I was supposed to make my black pants yesterday, and although they are cut and ready to go, I had to make these instead.

They are just so cute, I couldn't resist.

I got the pattern from the Etsy shop called Little Shoes. There were so many cute patterns, I did the special and bought 3 for $10.00, so you can expect to see some more of these coming up soon! I can see where I need to adjust my sewing for next time, but for a first attempt at baby shoe making, not bad!

Now, for the tip of the day. My iron gets gunked up easily because in addition to my sewing, my daughter starches her work shirts every day and the starch builds up quickly on the iron. I have used a variety of different methods to try to keep my iron clean, but it seems that the best I had tried so far (until now) was the Rowenta iron cleaner. Although convenient, it is very expensive - even with a 40% of coupon. So, I decided to Google and You Tube a "clean iron" search. I tried a few different things, but the absolute best (and easiest) is this. I also have used this method on both hot or cold iron and it works great!

I put a little baking soda in a small container and keep it in my sewing room. I also bought a small bottle of white vinegar that is kept just for the sewing room. Dip an old towel in the vinegar and then in the baking soda. Rub it gently over the iron and all the gunk will come off like magic! You may need to do this a few times or rub a little harder on any stubborn spots. This is MUCH cheaper than commercial cleaners, does not involve any chemicals, is easy to use, and works BETTER than the commercial cleaners. Give it a try!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Colette Clover Pants

So, what is all the buzz about Colette Patterns? If you haven't tried them, I will give you an inside peek. In addition to the Colette Sewing Handbook that I talked about earlier, I also ordered 2 patterns. The Clover Pants and the Jasmine Blouse (both shown in this picture.)

Now, I don't have lovely legs like the model, but I do have to say that these pants fit me better straight out of the envelope than RTW. I made a straight size 6 with NO adjustments and got a great result. Now, this picture was taken after wearing them for several hours and going out to eat, but still... I can see that I have a little tweaking to do for the next pair, which I intend to cut out tomorrow!.

The pattern comes in a cute little booklet/folder. The instructions are very clear and separated into sections. For things that are not completely illustrated in the pattern, like how to install an invisible zipper, it refers you to a website tutorial. Of course, all of these techniques are also covered in the Colette Sewing Handbook.
You can order directly from Colette patterns, but if you are a PR member, you can order with a discount from PR, which is what I did! The only thing I don't like is that there is not a photo of the finished garment included with the pattern. I suppose you could print one from the internet easily enough, though.

I guess what I like the most about this pattern, other than the great fit, is that it was super easy to sew. (It would have been quick and easy, except that I sewed all 4 of the pocket pieces to the wrong side of the pants and waistband instead of the right side. So, I had to rip all of those out and do that over.) I like the wide yoke/waistband, and the side zipper. This pants pattern also has 2 cute little pockets that are hidden beneath the waistband.

Lately I've been into some narrower leg pants, although DD keeps telling me to quit wearing them! Granted, these are not the best camera shots, but I'm thrilled that I finally went out tonight and replaced the tripod that I've been missing so much since we got burglarized a few months ago. Now I can finally take pictures again and not have to wait until someone is here to do it!

I wanted to make a muslin for these pants, but did not have any "throw away" fabric that had stretch. So, instead, I checked the measurements and cut the pattern a size 6 which matched my measurements pretty closely. Then, I basted all the pieces together except facing and pockets, to check the fit. I tore out all the basting and then sewed them with a regular stitch. The patterns have 5/8 inch seam allowances, so I figured if I needed to add or subtract, I would be OK. Oh, BTW, the pattern says you need 2.25 yards of 60" fabric. Mine was only 52" wide, and I got by with less than 1-5/8 yard in my size. SOOO if you are buying fabric specifically for these pants, lay out the pattern pieces and see how much you really need.

I can see that on my next pair I will need to lengthen the back crotch seam by about 3/4" and perhaps decrease the inseam length to get rid of some of those under-butt wrinkles!

Oh, and when am I ever going to learn not to take my picture when I have a headache? Kinda scary!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Licorice version 1 finished!

And here it is! I've been wearing this dress all day today, and I have to say, "I love it!" I think next time I will probably make it 2" longer so I can wear it to work.

More pictures here

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Almost done with Licorice

The Licorice Dress has taken more time than expected, but much of that was due to unforeseeable events that have nothing to do with sewing. Of course, it did take a little tweaking to work out the fit on this one. According to my measurements, I would take a straight 6 in Collette patterns. Exactly. Well, I should have known better. The upper chest was way to big and the shoulders were dropping off of mine. I should have made a smaller upper bodice and then done a FBA. But it's oh-so-tempting when your measurements seem to line up exactly! Hopefully the alterations I made to the pattern will work so that I can make the next version of this dress. ( Sorry, I think I'm repeating whatever I put in my last post!... I must be tired.)

Yesterday was supposed to be a sewing day, but my plans got derailed by one crisis (and I'm speaking literally here) after another. But, at day's end, the distant family member got her car, the emergency counseling appointment was made and attended, and the dog made it out of the vets without having to have x-rays (but still incurred a $72.00 bill!) None of these things were in MY plans for the day, but the Good Lord knew what was coming and it all worked out for His glory (although I'm not sure how the dog fight fit into the plan!)

Today, however, I did have a productive day. After meeting my trainer at the gym this morning, and running a few errands, I did get to spend some time sewing. As you can see in the picture above, I added some pleats to the front of the collar. There are pleats already at the shoulder seams, but I didn't like the way the collar laid in the pictures I've seen, so I thought I would try it. It's kind of subtle, but I like it.

The collar was actually pretty fiddly. You have to put pleats on both ends of 6 different pieces! That's 12 pleats for one little collar! Then of course, I added two more to the front!

The dress is lined, so that takes some extra time as well. This pattern has horizontal and vertical darts in the front, and vertical darts in the back. I had to lower the front darts about 1". Apparently Colette patterns are not designed for 50-something breasts!

I like the way they use bias tape to create the casing for the elastic in the sleeve.

The dress is lined, but the sleeves are not. This leaves you with a raw edge at the armscye on the inside. I decided to serge together the seam allowances.

All I have left to do on this dress is to finish the tie belt and sew on the hook and eye at the top of the neck. I hope to get pictures tomorrow. I was going to wear it to take my son out to dinner tomorrow night for his birthday. He found out today that he did poorly on one of his finals, and now he doesn't even want us to come up to see him. He works so hard to get good grades that he gets really discouraged when he doesn't do as well as he'd hoped. I hope he'll change his mind tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Licorice Time

Yesterday I thought I would trace out some patterns that I'm planning for the SWAP. Ever since I moved out of my sewing room, I've been using the dining room table for cutting. Well, it IS getting close to Christmas, so I guess I need to get that cleaned off!

After I traced out the coat pattern from FSG, I decided to trace the Licorice dress pattern from the new Colette sewing handbook. (I know, I know. I said I was going to make the coat in the BSSH, and I am still drooling over it. Unfortunately, it requires light weight wool, and the wool I'm planning on using for a coat for winter is heavy weight coating. I don't think it will work well with the BSSH coat. I guess I'm saving that one for a spring coat.) ANYWAY, I decided I needed to make a muslin for the licorice dress since I have never worked with Colette patterns before. Well, my muslin is turning out pretty well, so I'm turning it into a real dress.

According to the measurements, I should be cutting a 6, which I did. It fit's great except that it is too big in the upper chest. I probably should have cut a 4 and done a FBA. The Colette patterns are drafted for a C cup, but that's still 3 sizes off of where I need to be! SOOO, I ended up taking a giant dart (which just looks like a CF seam) from the neck to the waist in the front of the dress. This is working out fine for now. I did not do the exact same alteration on the pattern piece, because I do not want a dart down the CF of my dress! I'm taking off 1/2" down the CF to the waist and then slicing the pattern at the waist so that the whole front will lie against the fold line. I then added back some fullness to the skirt. I hope this will work on my next version, which I intend to make out of wine wool crepe. My "test" dress is a poly charmeuse, but I like how it is turning out. I have some pink ambiance in my stash, so I am using that to line it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook

Last week (or maybe the week before) I went on sort of a sewing shopping spree. I bought the Colette Sewing book, the Threads Archive DVD set, a few patterns, and the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook. I wasn't sure what I was expecting, and I almost didn't buy it, but then decided to. I'm really glad I did! I've been reading this book every evening since I got it. This book does have a lot of information for beginning sewers, but what I really like is that it has patterns included.

There are 5 patterns:

  • skirt
  • blouse
  • dress
  • coat
  • bag

Each pattern comes with step by step detailed instructions to make 3 different versions from the same pattern. These versions are different enough that it will involve things like cutting and changing the pattern, creating different necklines, changing darts/gathers, etc. So, it's not just like adding a sleeve or making it sleeveless. The also show additional variations, but do not give instructions for those :-(

The styles are cute and up to date. The directions seem very clear, although I have not tried to follow them. Already I know I am going to make the main blouse version and a version of the coat.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Better fitting Biarritz

I was not happy with the jacket I made, so it was either scrap it or fix it. I decided to fix it. I took in each of the side seams 3/8", took a 1/2" tuck (total 1") at the center back, and narrowed the sleeves by 3/8" each. These seemingly simple changes involved a lot of work. I had to

  • remove, alter, and replace part of the collar
  • remove the lower half of the sleeves from the armsye
  • take in the shoulder and all of armscye by 3/8 inch
  • take tuck at center back
  • re hem sleeves and bottom of the jacket.
Of course, all of the seams around the collar were stitched, under stitched, served and top stitched. This was A LOT of stitching removed. I also cut my fabric by mistake in a couple of places. This was the wrong fabric to have to do all that to! Anyway, I'm glad it's done because I am in desperate need of clothes right now.
After shopping for pants and tops the last couple of days and buying nothing, it reinforced why I sew!!! If pants fit me in the legs, they are too big in the waist. If the top fit's in the bust, the shoulders are falling off. I guess I better quit shopping and get back to more sewing!

Speaking of which, I finally finished the Hot Patterns Scarf shirt. I had worked on it a few weeks ago and then lost a piece. Never did find it. I ended up cutting up the scarf to remake the front, but then didn't know what to do with the scarf. Now my scarf shirt has a contrast scarf and cuffs, and I really like it!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

I'm Jumping on that Bandwagon

Well, it seems that Colette patterns are all the rage right now, and I can see why. The styles are hip with a vintage vibe to them. The garments are "pretty" and feminine. I finally broke down and ordered the Collette Sewing Handbook and the BurdaStyle Sewing Handbook.

I've just started reading the Collette book, and want to make everything in it! It really is directed to new sewists, but there is still plenty of good information and reminders for those of us who are not so new to sewing.

So, one of the things the author Sarai talks about is going into your closet and pulling out the things you love to better determine your sense of style. Well, that was kind of a disappointment for me as I looked in my closet and really could only pull out a couple of things (none that I'd made) that I really liked, let alone loved. What happened to all of the things I loved? Has my style changed that much? Have I given away all of my clothes? Have I been looking frumpy? I'm not sure, but I know I need to do something about it!!! Right now I know I need to make a LOT of new things because I've lost 15 pounds and none of my clothes are fitting. I think I want to be careful to try to really make things I think I will love rather than just things that would be quick to make. I'm giving myself permission to buy some things to get me through this transition time. I need to deliberately make things that will go together and coordinate with other things so I don't have to hunt around for "the one pair of pants that works with that blouse," or grab the dress that doesn't have any shoes that work with it that I can wear all day long.

Along that note, I finished a LH Biarritz jacket the other day. The only pictures I have are terrible and the jacket isn't even closed correctly on me! Yep, that's how I look and feel at the end of the day!

But, the truth is, the jacket just turned out too big. Normally a small in LH patterns fits me, so even though I haven't lost that much weight on the top half of my body, this still turned out too big. I think part of the problem is that the fabric is a knit, so I should have gone down a size for that reason alone. My daughter keeps telling me that the problem is that the style is too outdated and made for old ladies. I keep telling her that I AM an old lady!