Sunday, December 26, 2010

Stop stealing my looks!

Did the designers sneak into my house and thumb through my photo albums for their inspiration or what? Pre-fall 2011 is like a big Been There Done That!


Worn by me in the early 80's. Not my finest outfit then and a pretty dumpy version by ADAM now. Should have left that look in the 80's.

Tory Burch channels my fave outfit when I was nine years old, striped top, navy shorts, and droopy socks. I suppose Ms. Burch expects people who receive a paycheck instead of an allowance to buy this.

Oversized harlequin stuff on a wide silk top paired with black pants and black heels, wore this in the mid eighties. My husband was not impressed.

Plain blue wool coat with no button closing, plain t-shirt, plain black pants, my uniform in the mid 90's. I sewed my own coat to create this look and now TSE offers it up to the public.

Sometime just before 1990 I made a dress that looked a lot like this. A rayon challis print with white abstract squiggles. Mine was pink instead of red. Thakoon doesn't use the white belt like I did, maybe I should call and let them know they need to pay more attention to accessorizing their outfits.

J Mendel thinks my maternity coat of 1984 was worthy of imitation. They should have copied my dress as well, it was much nicer than that dingy rag the model is wearing. Her feet must be cold, I should lend her the ribbed silk tights I wore, they were warm.

Not my look but still in my album of the past. This is exactly what my overly talented artist/alcoholic boyfriend wore in 1975. Maybe he's still wearing this look, who knows. If he needs a new set he can call Burberry Prorsum.

This from my 1971 yearbook, what my teachers wore. I'll bet the ones back then were made with that awful "bonded" fabric where a not so great wool or acrylic fabric was fused to a thin foam that made the fabric keep it's shape and resist wrinkling. Think Luca Luca knows about that stuff?

Thanks for walking down memory lane with me!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More for less

The ladies knit, buy it for $26 at Gorgeous Fabrics.

Or go "discount shopping" and pay $18 at The Sewing Workshop.

Trick question - which site lists the real fabric content?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The look for so very much less

Desiring this wool blend knit at Gorgeous Fabrics? It's yours for $23.80 on sale. Regular price $28.00.

Or you can go to Fabric Mart and get it for $12.99. Note where FM says market price $22.00.

Have a craving for a purple hued soft tie dye rayon or viscose knit? Go to Emma One Sock and buy it for $14.95.

Or go to High End Fabrics and get one for $5.75.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Snip, sort, and the spreadsheet

Not a bit of sewing going on here. Last week while doing some super easy sewing as a call out to my mojo I managed to snip a nice little wedge into my finger with my tailors point Ginghers. Ouch! Those things are sharp, smooth cutting, and sturdy which is why I like them so very much. Mine are stamped with "Italy" which I suppose means they are made there. Then within the same hour I managed to serge a hole in my fabric. Right in the front and center of the scrub top, my easy project. Step away from the sewing tools! What to do instead? Sort the stash, of course.


Questions I ask when I sort my fabric:
  • Is this color or texture really me.
  • Will I enjoy sewing this fabric or will it be a chore?
  • Do I still feel love for the fabric or is it over?
  • Do the colors work together?
  • How does this fabric work with my existing wardrobe?
  • Would I really wear this fabric or is it a fantasy fabric?
I store them in general categories in my tall shelved cabinet. Nearly all my fabrics fit in there, a few bulky ones are in tubs on a nearby shelf. I like being able to see what I have. I like to be in control of my stash, not have it control me. NancyK said that first.

The spreadsheet

Once upon a time I thought using a spreadsheet to manage one's stash was a bit hard core for the sewing room but after a few incidents of forgetting what I had or how many yards a piece was, I was a spreadsheet convert. Most computers come with a simple spreadsheet program and if not, one can download programs like Open Office for free.

Categories I use:
  • Color - with the basic color family name first
  • Weave or knit - twill, jersey, crepe, etc.
  • Fiber content - cotton, silk, wool, etc.
  • Fabric width
  • Length
  • Source - where purchased
I use Microsoft Works and there is a "sort" function where I can arrange a chosen column alphabetically. This way I can see what I have in a certain color, how many wools I have, and so on. I'm thinking of adding a "type of use" category with words like jacket, tees, pants, and blouses. Then if I see a pattern I must make I can quickly see what suitable fabrics might be in the stash.

Now I must get back to updating my spreadsheet!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Burda, now I want you again

The August issue of Burda is now online and it has made me want again. Want patterns, designs, new clothes, fabrics - wants that have faded into near nothingness lately. I have been blaming my flat mood on the heat but maybe the new wanting is due to the fact that the styles showing up this fall are my old favorites. Once upon a time I loved slim pants, simple and elegantly loose shirts, tailored jackets with a subtle twist, combinations of quiet colors like gray in all it's hues. Simple, functional, elegant, well tailored, love these. I can't wait to have the August Burda in my hands so I can browse and dream and, hopefully, sew.

The Love List

This pretty basic jacket with the subtle twist of having the buttons in a concealed closure and being intended to wear with the collar up. There is a soft steel blue wool cashmere blend that has been in my stash almost too long. This might be the right pattern to make it come out.

The loose fitting banded collar shirt. I have seen this style in printed chiffons which gives a nice effect, the contrast of menswear and feminine. Soft, drapey, easy to tuck in, easy to wear, this is my kind of shirt.

Slim pants, my wardrobe staple for many years until the bootleg look arrived and made slim pants look fashion backward. The slim pants of yesteryear were more like close fitting tapered things though. I like the updated leg shaping in the current pants.

Jacket + shirt + pants = outfit. I need to go rouse my mojo.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Skirt iteration, V2704

A few years ago I sewed the skirt of Vogue NY/NY pattern 2704, now out of print, and it became my all time favorite skirt pattern. It's a swirl skirt with pattern pieces that look like this.

Five panels that hug the hips and flare at the knees in a fun flippy way. My first try in a rayon challis looked like this. One of the panels has a longer bottom piece which creates the dip in the front hem.

I have lost count of how many times I have sewn this pattern since that first success. The second time I sewed it I also used a rayon challis and it was pretty much the same.

Then I started adding a lining. A single layer of fabric sticks to bare legs in Virginia summer weather so a lining actually makes the skirt cooler to wear. Cotton voile or batiste makes a good lining. I also eliminated the dip in the hem because if the skirt twiddled around the dip ended up wherever and wasn't a good style element anymore.

Then I got sick of the zipper, tired of sewing it in and tired of feeling it against my skin in the heat. So I started making the skirt in light weight cotton lycra knits, serging the seams and applying an elastic waist. Perfect!

Now I am once again sewing this pattern this time in a rayon batik, an impulse purchase at a local independent. The lining is a rayon voile, a nice combination with the batik. The best part about this skirt iteration is using the invisible zipper foot that I finally got for my Viking 950s.

It's like magic. I thought I was doing well enough with my pintuck foot using the grooves to guide the invisible zipper, hah, how wrong I was. This invisible zipper foot makes it all sooooo much easier. It's so easy and nice that I don't even mind the fact that (due to poor planning on my part) I have to take out the zipper in my skirt project and install it again.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Adding length at side seam - pants

Length can be added to the side at the hip area of a pants pattern by opening a small horizontal wedge. This will also shift the center back seam to a more vertical position.

1. First place a ruler along the center back seam and extend the line downwards a bit. This will show the point where the center back seam starts to curve. From that point, which I call the "turning point", draw a horizontal line over to the side seam. (This line will be parallel to the crotch line and perpendicular to the grain line.)

2. Cut the pattern along this horizontal line leaving a "hinge" just at the turning point. Open a small wedge. Very little is actually necessary to create a pretty big change so make this wedge small. A 1/2 inch opening at the side seam is a significant but reasonable alteration. How wide to make this opening of course depends on the body shape one is fitting. It is best to err on the side of too little at first as too much will generate a pattern that will produce new horrible fitting problems.

3. Opening the wedge has changed the angle of the center back seam. If a line is again drawn using a straight edge along the center back seam this shift will be obvious visually on the altered pattern. The grain line of the upper hip will need to be redrawn which is done by simply extending the line of the lower part of the pattern upwards.

What about the front of the pattern? With a small alteration I find that the extra length can be added to the top of the front pattern's side seam. For my body shape I add at the top and curve down to center front of the original pattern. The side seam curves are then compared and made similar and smooth.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More testing

Two more KwikSew jackets muslined.

The boyfriend blazer muslin looks just like the pattern photo and I think it is a good update from the 1990's broader shoulder version. There is no collar stand which is a little disappointing but that makes the collar somewhat less fiddly to sew. There are separate upper and lower collar (bias cut) pattern pieces. A lining is included. This should be a fun project.

The biker jacket muslin ended up fitting and looking exactly like the white jacket on the pattern envelope, somewhat roomy and boxy. I like the pattern, everything is proportioned well and it sews up easily but I want more shape. After pinning out some width and length in the bust area for my shape, curving in the side seams, and pinning darts in the back I think it looks very promising. I'll have to think about this one some.

My flesh pink muslin fabric is almost used up, waaahhh! I have enough for one more jacket. Maybe I should just keep going and muslin 3623.

Update: Made a muslin of this double breasted jacket. Not my style really, but a good casual jacket style. Now I'm out of muslin fabric. Time to choose my next project.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Testing, one, two, three...

Testing KwikSew 3334. This might suit the daughter person. I tried the muslin and I might like it for myself. It feels snug in the waist area and a little roomy in the shoulders. Then I got curious and wondered how 3466 compared so I made another muslin.

This pattern has similar lines with the shoulder princess seams in the front and center seam and darts in the back. The difference in cut is subtle but significant. This military looking style has higher armholes and is closer fitting around the shoulders. The sizing is consistent, something KwikSew does well, it is the style that demands the differences in the pattern.

Now I am in muslin mode, why not just make tests of more KwikSew jacket patterns and then I will know how they compare. I have traced 3715 so it is next.

The boyfriend blazer, a (hopefully) updated version of the 90's classic. I had a wool flannel one by J. Crew in that era that I wore all the time. This look and length worked well for me then, we shall see if it can be translated into a current look.

While I'm at it I think I will test 3764 as well.

I like the red illustration. I have a deep red cotton sateen in my stash. I may have do some shaping with this pattern if it is truly as boxy as that white sewn version in the photo.

Soon I'll have a whole wardrobe of muslins, hah! The fabric I'm using is a fleshy pink cotton linen blend that I got from some time ago. It is extra wide, like 90 inches wide, and was about a dollar per yard. Yay for the super sales at!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

More KwikSew

More KwikSew hoodies. This size small one in a skulls print french terry for the daughter person. A very cute, good quality fabric from Lucy's Fabrics. I made the hems narrower and sewed them with the coverstitch machine. The hems are two inches wide on all the sizes. I think it looks better with narrower hems on the smaller size.

A plain looking one in a cotton spandex for myself, also in a size small to suit the stretch of the fabric. The name of the color is "raisin" but prune juice would be more accurate. Probably wouldn't sell as well with that name though. The hems are a little narrower on this one as well since I used the coverstitch machine and trimmed to finish. A very nice fabric from

And one in a thick cotton sweatshirt fleece. This is a size medium, a little oversized and comfy in the heavy fabric. This was a lucky buy from Another sweatshirting in the same category was pretty wrinkly and wimpy. I finished the edges of the hems with the serger and stitched them down with the sewing machine.

I shortened the pattern bodice three inches for all the hoodies. KwikSew 3693.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A Wardrobe Lightbulb

Two projects in progress in my sewing room:

The Marfy, a collared button down shirt. I have made the necessary changes to the pattern for fit and was about to choose an interfacing that would work well with the silk twill.

The New Look, a collared button down shirt. Still needs buttons/snaps, I have some but I'm not that excited about the proportions of this one.

The patterns are a similar style, an effort to find a good basic shirt pattern for wovens. As I thought about my projects today a lightbulb started to go on. I don't like button down shirts very much, I don't enjoy wearing collared shirts really, and I actually don't like wearing woven tops unless they are quite roomy. What in the world am I doing sewing these shirts? The answer is a bit fuzzy, something about trying to find a "nicer" look than my favored knits, knits, and more knits.

Then I was flipping the pages of a Garnet Hill catalog thinking something grumpy about all the "lifestyle" type catalogs that are showing up in my mailbox just because I ended up on some mailing list somewhere somehow, and I saw this.

She's wearing my favorite summer outfit! The knit skirt, knit top, sandals. Hmm, she looks well dressed. I flipped the pages again, this time with more interest. Lots and lots of knits in the catalog, and the models all look nice, well dressed and comfortable. Lightbulb on. Knits can look fabulous, knits are not just for gym wear and at home wear. Knits can be dressy, formal, casual, serious, fun...everything. I don't need to wear wovens if I don't like to. I think it is time to sew some more knits!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

KwikSew success

The KwikSew hoodie was a total success. Miss Twentysomething put it on immediately. It fit her well and she liked the fabric. This pattern is so easy and quick to make, I already have another one in a thicker sweatshirting cut out.

With each new KwikSew pattern I try I like the company better. Their patterns deliver and that is all I ask of a pattern that I buy. Consistent sizing, good drafts, sensible construction techniques, good results, it's all good in the KwikSew envelope. I think might be done with McVoguerick, too many frustrations and disappointments in their envelopes.

Off to do taxes and other paperwork. If I get that finished I can go have fun in the sewing room! Daisy doesn't have to worry about taxes and this is what she likes to do with all her extra time.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A KwikSew Break

While I figure out which interfacing I want to use for the Marfy shirt and wait for a delivery from Snap Source so I can finish the New Look, I made a simple hoodie using KwikSew 3693.

It's drizzly and dark here today, no sunny daylight to show the warm colors in this french terry. Those dots are tiny hearts. If you are a fan you probably recognize this fabric. I made view B and shortened the bodice by 3 inches. Doesn't the picture on the pattern make it look like the edges of the fronts end at center front? The draft actually overlaps the fronts enough to add buttons if one wanted. It doesn't change the look of the garment, I just thought it was an interesting fact.

A brown hoodie is not my style, it is for someone else. The dress form is about the same shape and size as the intended wearer and I'm hoping it fits the real person this well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Test Driving a Marfy

It was such a pleasure to open the neat little package of one of my new Marfy patterns. A quick muslin later and I am still smiling. While I need to alter a little for my shape the overall fit feels very nice, like real clothing instead of some wonky fabric concoction. I have pinned out some width in the front since the pattern is drafted for a larger bust than mine. The cuff is just the right size to go with two small pleats and a little gather in the sleeve. I love it when a pattern works, it makes sewing fun.

All the pieces fit perfectly together and the pattern sews a garment that looks exactly like the concept drawing.

I'm thinking a silk twill, a bit of weight but still soft.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


My Marfy patterns are here! I ordered two through the Vogue Patterns site and they were shipped from Italy in a small brown envelope. Each set of pattern pieces is nicely folded into a small rectangle and is labeled with a sticker. No seam allowances or hems included, I love that. It means the edge of the pattern is exactly the seam line and I can see the shapes in actual size instead of something visually enlarged by excessive seam allowances everywhere.

I didn't expect them so soon. My head is full of a "yeans" project at the moment. Yeans, hah, yoga pant jeans. Can I make pull on jeans that don't look like nursing home wear? If they look like these "clean jeans" I'll be ok. I made one test pair, they are a bit tight but I gave them a trial run yesterday in public. I hope I didn't offend anyone. The test "yeans" are shockingly comfortable. We'll see how it goes.

The sewing machines have been busy, five pairs of yoga pants, four long sleeved tees, one tank top, and one sweatshirt type thing, plus a few repairs and alterations. Only two of the yoga pants were for me so don't think that my closet is filling up with all these things.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

New Look 6704

Project in progress, a basic shirt from New Look, reviewed many times at Pattern Review. I made a muslin of this many moons ago. Not sure why it became a UFO but now it's back in action with a fine cotton sateen that came from Gorgeous Fabrics, also many moons ago. The fabric is such a pleasure to work with. Lots of careful topstitching...and of course some careful unstitching of seam, serge finish, and topstitch when I sewed the right front yoke to the left front bottom and the same with the left. I didn't even notice until it was time for the front band, then I thought, wow, that neckline looks funny and oh, look at the armscye! No problem, it's fixed now.

I borrowed long sleeves from OOP New Look 6705, which is so OOP that they have a new pattern with the same number now. The sleeve is boringly plain, I'll have to think of something for a cuff. And then there are buttons. Of course nothing in my button stash suits which means I need to go to a store, something that will have to wait until the mud and potholes from the snow in our dirt road have calmed down enough for me to drive my small car.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Onion 1038

Another case of pattern seduction. I love the look of the style but this coat does not look good on me. Too bad because those princess seams have such a pleasing shape visually. Just not on my body so this pattern will not go past the muslin stage. On to the next project, New Look 6704.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Onion 1038 Muslin

Saturday, January 16, 2010

KwikSew 3338 - The Review

Pattern Description:
Close-fitting pullover tops designed for stretch knits.

Pattern Sizing:

I made a size S with my personal measurements being at the very top edge of the pattern's size S. I find the fit on me to be close and needing a knit that stretches easily but not so tight that it is a body conscious type fit. My DD prefers a closer fit in the rayon lycra fabrics so I chose a size smaller than her "correct" pattern size for those tees.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?
Yes, very much.

Were the instructions easy to follow?
The instructions are clear, simple, and easy to follow. The crewneck and the scoopneck have different neckline finishes. I made view B and C with the scoopneck but chose to use the neckline finish KwikSew suggests for crewneck view A in this pattern.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I like everything about this top! It is feminine and flattering in all the right ways. The scoop neckline has a nice open curve and isn't overly low and revealing. The shoulders feel great and it is very comfortable to wear.

Fabric Used:
The print is a lighter weight rayon lycra from Gorgeous Fabrics. This top is a size S.

This gray one is a midweight rayon lycra also from Gorgeous Fabrics. This top is a size XS.

I also used an all cotton interlock with just enough stretch, an organic cotton baby rib knit, a polyester lycra blend, and a cotton lycra blend. My favorite is the organic cotton baby rib knit (from

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I added length to the body and sleeves, two inches for me and a little more for my longer limbed DD. It is such a luxury for both of us to have sleeves that are long enough. We will never make do with RTW again.

I also curved in more at the side seams around waist. The pattern has a bit of shaping there but DD and I both need about 1/4 inch more taken off each seam.

With the extra length and shaped waist the tee fits DD perfectly but the front looked too long and droopy on my small busted self. I ended up simply cutting off 1/2 inch at the shoulder on the front pattern pieces. This worked perfectly. The neckline sits a little higher but I like that. I moved the shoulder point on the sleeve back 1/4 inch when I sewed the sleeves on and I didn't have any problem putting the sleeve into the somewhat smaller armscye. Knits are very forgiving that way!

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I have sewn about twenty of these and I will definitely keep sewing this pattern.

Excellent tee shirt pattern!