Sunday, November 27, 2011

Press on

A solution to the pressing table problem has appeared.  I left the base of my previous pressing table setup behind when we moved.  It was pretty rickety and hubby insisted it was not worth bringing.  Where to put the top in my new sewing room was a difficult puzzle for a while.  Then this buffet thing showed up in the local thrift store.  I think it is an Ikea piece, the hardware is typical of their style, and it is, surprisingly, mostly solid wood.  The pressing top is screwed to the back rail of the buffet's top to prevent tipping if I push down on the very front.

At first I thought I would cut off the narrow top shelf to create an open pressing surface but that high shelf is the handiest thing ever for pressing tools.  I have two skinny fluorescent light fixtures from my old sewing room that will fit under the upper shelf to light up the pressing surface.  They are lying on the pressing top in this photo since I haven't remembered yet where I put the mounting clips.

What is that green thing at the left in the photo?  It's a Wilcox & Gibbs 515-4 series that does a chain stitch and overlock.  It was being given away, how could I say no!  More about that another day when I get it up and running.    

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

New Kwik Sew patterns

Kwik Sew has put out a new batch of patterns and, as usual, there are some excellent choices.  Not that the pattern envelopes advertise this excellence.  How unstylish can they possibly make a nicely sewn garment look?  Let's take a look at the pattern envelope photos and then let's imagine how fabulous the garments really could be.

Uptown Dresses  They put cute names on the patterns this time, I think it's a nice touch.  This Uptown Dress has tons of potential and appeal.  First of all, it's a pull over dress which means no fiddling with zipper installation.  And a pockets option, I love pockets in a dress.  The bias cut draped collar adds a bit of dress-up-ness.  Maybe the simple fold back sleeves seem a bit plain but consider them instead the detail that provides the fabric choice challenge.  This dress could be stunningly stylish in the right fabric, perhaps a featherweight Italian wool.  Sew it up in an amazing fabric, add suitable accessories and it would be Vogue magazine ready.

City Dress & Tunic  In this photo Kwik Sew manages to show with the purple top how nice this pattern can be.  The slim shawl collar is perfect and the sleeve cuff repeats the collar shape nicely.  An eye catching fabric with suitable drape is key.  They grey sack on the paid-to-smile model with the stick arms and bad hair day is, well, hideous.  


Pretty Pleated Skirts  The skirts are pretty, by themselves.  The way the lavender one is styled makes it look like a repurposed laundry bag.  Come on Kwik Sew!  These are pull on skirts, again no zipper, how easy is that!  It's designed for woven fabrics but I'm seeing knits, a wool jersey for the long one perhaps. Or the ever popular rayon/poly/lycra double knit which I don't like for myself but would work well here.  On the other end of the spectrum I see a buttery soft drapey suede, yum.

Ruched Neck Tops  The long sleeved view is a great on trend item.  The outdoor/casual clothing companies are making their versions in fleece, nice for places on the planet that have proper winters.  It would be interesting to extend the shawl collar into a hood which would make the neckline lie somewhat differently.   

Shawl Cardi & Vest  For "firm stretch knits".  That could translate into one huge fugly mess.  I my opinion this pattern needs fabric with some softness and drape.  Anything stiff and cheap will make this look like a stiff and cheap uniform piece of the kind that one will only wear if getting paid to do so.  In my fantasy world where I wear vests in this style I would use an alpaca knit.  The jacket in a cashmere knit. 

Dolman Sleeve Jackets  Super simple and really cute...if worn right.  Lucky Magazine would know how to make this the most awsome piece in your fall/winter wardrobe.  Without some thought this could look like you just snipped the shoulder pads out of your fave 80's jacket.

Jelly Roll Jacket  I'm not a quilter so I'm missing the jelly roll reference.  What I do see is a very nice basic jacket with princess seams, a flattering collar, and interesting sleeve cuff treatments.  This is a multi season and multi purpose jacket as it could be sewn in just about any fabric for any occasion.  Embroidered silk for the opera, wool gabardine with metal buttons for winter casual, fleece for chilly days.

Thanks, Kwik Sew, for giving us new patterns!    

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Onion patterns

A little pattern shopping.  I really like Onion patterns because they are simple to make and are well drafted.  Like Burda Style, they are printed without seam allowances which means I can see the actual shape and size of the pattern piece and can make alterations if I want without having to fiddle with seam allowances.

The asymmetric buttoning caught my eye.  It wouldn't be difficult to change the front closure of any jacket to have this style but these days I don't have the drive these days to do extra things in my sewing.  Just let me cut it out and sew!  This is drafted for a B or C cup so I will alter that for my A and hopefully that will be good enough.  I'm thinking fleece or wool.  Summer is short here in the high mountains which is why I am already thinking warm things.

An anorak with an easy way to sew a zipper and attach the hood.  Once upon a time I had a thick wool anorak very much like this one.  It was a gift from my roommate at a school in Norway and it suited the climate there very well.  I'm not sure if I would sew this in wool though.  There are so many new warm synthetics available now.  Maybe just a windbreaker material as the wind does blow here in the spring and fall.

This one I ordered mostly to see how Onion did the collar and neckline.  It has the princess seam to the asmscye which I tend to like better than the princess seam to the shoulder so having this pattern will give me the option of using either type princess with other neck and collar treatments.

My new sewing room is almost set up just as I want it.  A huge dresser was in there that came with the house and it took up way too much room.  I sold it through a consignment shop and now the big space taker is out!  Maybe I'll take some photos soon.  If I'm not outside enjoying the sunshine and mountains.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


Here is a scrub top I made in spring of 2007 with a cotton print from the chain store Hancock Fabrics.

Here is a "Maggy London tokyo special cotton woven" currently on Emma One Sock's site.  

Monday, January 31, 2011

More stealing my looks

Ann Taylor, have you been messing around in my closet of the past?  You have stolen my looks for your spring lineup. 

Slate gray menswear style shorts with rolled cuffs, knit top tucked in, bracelets.  Been there done that in the early 90's.  The sideseam and back welt pockets were handy for the various things one ends up carrying when one has children in tow.  I wore those shorts to death.  Heels would have been a hooker look back then, I wore flats or sandals.

Canvas "utility" pants with the legs rolled up to mid or high calf.  Mine were a dusty green and fit like a dream.  They got lots of use in the late 80's.  I usually wore flipflops, a gauze shirt, and simple silver bangles to complete my look.

The mid 90's are back.  Already.  Ann Taylor is using a rayon blend ponte knit but I will bet that my 100% poly knit pants in a twill texture were much more durable.  I still have mine for some reason.  Maybe as a reminder of how I have allowed my rear to become a size that looks really bad in those pants.  I wore mine with flats, sometimes really cool (I thought) ankle boot heels with a front zip, and a tucked in silk blouse top.

All this been there done that-ness is giving me fashion ennui.  Am I really so old that there is nothing new?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Style tips from my readers

I have been thinking about the interesting "completing an outfit" ideas that appeared in the comments on my Giveaway post.

Harry Mason earspirals

Earrings complete the look - Lynn
A simple thing like choosing the right earrings can make an outfit sing.  Once upon a time I wore earrings every day, even to the gym.  I still have my favorites of that collection but I never wear them, they don't suit now that I'm over the hill.  There is one pair that I do wear occasionally, pretty ones by Harry Mason that were a gift from MIL last summer.  New earrings are now on my list, I feel much more dressed when wearing them.

Forever 21 cardigan

A good sweater cardigan for a professional look - Joyce in NC
There are lots of great sweater cardigans in the stores now, a shape for every body.  Moto jackets, pea coats, blazers, and plenty of unusual shapes all in good knits.  I recently got an inexpensive acrylic cardigan that is like a large circle with sleeves put in.  The result is a cozy shawl collar plus a cutaway jacket effect, a lot like the Forever 21 version in the photo.  I really just wanted a cardigan for a warmth layer but now I see that this item could work quite well as a jacket substitute for a put together look.

Limit the choices to a basic color - Terri   
I like the theory of this.  My wardrobe is woefully small and is lacking in color variety, maybe I'm already practicing this but, sadly, not on purpose.  Still, there is good inspiration here in the form of blending different tones of the same color in a single outfit.  I have a lot of blue.  I love blue.  The winter sky is many shades of perfect blue from dawn to dusk and even at night.  If the sky can wear several shades of its blue at any given time, well then I can too.  My slight compulsion for superorder that says things must match will just have to rest.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Thrifty me

Ann Taylor jacket $3.68 - Goodwill

Inspired by the success style bloggers are having at thrift stores I decided to stop by Goodwill yesterday. I haven't been thrifting in several years and I think it is because I started finding the racks full of raggedy things that really belonged in the recycle bin.  Maybe it was the stores I was going to, stores which did not include this particular Goodwill.

I was was very happy to find this practically new Ann Taylor jacket in my size.  It is a poly/triacetate long jacket with concealed buttoning and side seam pockets.  The darts are interesting, the points meet at the bust which perhaps means it is a princess seam with an angle.  This lighter photo shows it better.  The jacket also has a thin cord belt but as I'm not a fan of belts of any type for myself I doubt I'll use that.

I think the jacket looks much better on me.  It fits me better anyway.  Matilda makes it look sort of frumpy with her high and pointy boobage.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

and the Giveaway book goes to...

Joyce in NC!

You have some happy reading coming your way, Joyce. E me at ehvatum at gmail dot com and let me know the shipping address.

Thanks Lynn, Joyce in NC, and Terri for participating in my very first Giveaway! It is great to have your company here in blogworld.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cut it out - "fold of fabric" nonsense

First of all, thank you so much for the comments on my previous post! It's wonderful to have company here in blogworld!

And then to the title topic. Pattern layout suggestions usually show folded fabric and that's just silly in my opinion. I get that many or most people have limited space at home for laying out their fabric for cutting and that folding the fabric in one way or another helps but I find cutting a double layer is often wasteful and inaccurate.

Ages ago I started cutting one pattern piece at time in order to use less fabric than the pattern suggested. I would still cut things on the fold but individually folded for each pattern piece. I usually saved quite a bit of fabric with that method and with small child size items I could sometimes squeeze out two garments instead of the one.

The fold was always problematic. If the fabric had any thickness to it at all it was difficult to place the pattern edge on the fold. One can easily make a + or - 1/4 inch error with a fold and that can make a big difference at times. Pattern pieces that are relatively small and have a short folded edge, a facing piece for example, are difficult to place correctly.

Yesterday as I cut out yet another KwikSew 3338 tee I thought about how pattern companies supply us with half patterns. What's this half pattern business anyway? Is it that hard to print the full piece? Cost saving for them, I know, and more work for us. KwikSew had printed half a front, half a back, and half a neck binding for this tee. The neck binding pattern is really silly, it's a strip of fabric 24" long and 1.5" wide and KwikSew's pattern piece is 12" by 1.5" cut on the fold. I have traced the pattern and made full front and back pattern pieces on Easy Pattern material. The full pattern pieces make it much easier to place on the fabric on grain and to see how to lay out the pieces to make the best use of fabric.

BTW, JoAnn sells that Easy Pattern material. They hide it in the interfacing section and coupons can be used.

Happy sewing!

Monday, January 17, 2011


A little giveaway to a lucky reader of my blog. Does anyone read my blog? Well, to anyone who does, I am giving away a copy of 40 over 40 by Brenda Kinsel. It's a fun read about personal wardrobe selection and is especially helpful and encouraging to anyone who is no longer a "spring chicken".

To enter the random drawing tell your favorite wardrobe "trick" that helps you pull an outfit together in a comment to this post. Random drawing will happen this Sunday, January 23rd.