Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In Review: Rhonda's Raised Waist Skirt with a Back Flounce

Good morning dear friends!

Today's review is on the "Raised Waist Skirt with a Black Flounce" that Rhonda taught us how to draft in November. I actually made this skirt in December. The only thing it needed was a hem. Saturday I was determined to finish at least one of the many UFO's hanging on the closet door. This was the first of two finished that evening.

I'd planned to wear this during the holiday season. Plaid is always in. This is the second of three plaid garments to make for fall/winter 2014. The first, a coat, is still in the works. More on that later.

This skirt is clearly described by it's title. It has a raised waist with two back flounces. The waist is secured and finished with a zipper and facing. The invisible zipper is on the left side back. I used Butterick 5147-E to copy the basic straight skirt design.  Rhonda's instructions are clear and easy to follow. It didn't take a long time to create a new pattern.  The fabric used is from Hancock's. It's a medium weight poly/cotton blend. I pre-washed and pressed it before cutting out the skirt.

I like the idea of added a little flare to conservative, classic plaid. This was also a great opportunity to practice pattern drafting. I didn't make a muslin. I thought it would be easy it fit using a simple straight skirt pattern.  After I put the skirt together and tried it on, I didn't like it as a raised waist skirt. So I simply cut the extended waist and finished it with petersham ribbon. I also changed the location of the zipper, placing it at center back. Note: Before I attached the flounces to the skirt, I finished each with a narrow hem.

I didn't have a new blouse to model with the skirt.  I decided to pair it with my old stretch velvet mock wrap top. I really wanted to match it up with a button down blouse. I tried shopping for one last week. The picking were slim; color and styles. Are they not in style anymore? Something else to add to my long list of things to make.

I really like how my version of this skirt turned out. My DD has asked for one too. So, I'll at least make it one more time. This is a good drafting project to try. Starting with a simple straight skirt pattern, it's easy. It is a winner and turns ordinary conservative plaid fabric into a contemporary sassy little flare skirt that I will certainly enjoy wearing.

Happy Sewing, kittens! Thanks Rhonda for showing us how to draft it!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Rhonda and Susan's Workshop - Chicago November, 2014

Susan Khalje teamed up with Rhonda Buss for a mini workshop in Chicago.  How cool is that?  I had the pleasure of being one of the fortunate souls (sewists) who attended the sold out workshop last November. The group gathered at Soutache on the North side of Chicago for a full day of learning from master designers/couturiers.

Susan and Rhonda taught several couture, design, and fitting techniques. The day begin with Susan teaching the participants how to sew a couture skirt using fine guipure lace. The construction process is slow and the lace is meticulously shaped as one continuous piece. Her lessons also included tips and techniques on the construction of a beautifully sewn brocade dress that included underlining, inter-support system, and hand picked zipper. Susan gave us step by step instructions on the hand picked zipper process. In that lesson, I discovered I had missed a very important part of the process. Where the two sides meet, center of the zipper, there should be a slight hump when the zipper is closed. When the garment is worn and forms to the shape of the body, there will be no zipper exposure. This simple step in the process makes a world of difference in the finishing of a hand picked zipper.

By lunch time the students were all smiles and very pleased with what they had learned thus far. During break everyone was sharing sewing experiences and asking questions. Each person bought their own lunch, though a few kind ladies bought salad and desserts to share with everyone. Mily, the owner of Soutache, was on hand. The shop was open to the students to make purchases during the workshop. I think the location for the workshop was excellent. It provided adequate space to accommodate about twenty students. No one felt crowded or uncomfortable.

The second half of the day, Rhonda taught a mini course on pattern drafting, which included lessons about sleeve design and several illustrations on rectangle and square garment designs. She brought several of her designs as well and shared the construction process of those garments. Rhonda's teachings also included segments on the difference between petersham and grosgrain ribbons and demonstrated how petersham can be used as a facing on a skirt. She also taught the group how to properly sew on hooks and to use a thread bar instead of the metal eye.

The final segment of the workshop was devoted to fitting participants' muslins. We were invited to bring patterns and muslins. We came prepared. Each person was fitted and explanations of the adjustments were discussed and shared among the group. The last half hour was spent purchasing designer trimmings and notions bought by Susan.

This was an excellent workshop. By the end of the day, I wished for more. The room was buzzing with excitement. Everyone seemed enthusiastic about the possibility of using some of the techniques learned at the workshop. I'm putting in a bid to have more workshops like this, and I feel so very fortunate to be a part of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago. This is where I first met the fabulous Rhonda Buss.  Susan Khalje was a presenter at a club meeting about two years ago. It was my first time hearing her speak. Both ladies are experts in the field of couture sewing and are excellent teachers. I can't wait for the next workshop.

Be inspired! Books are good, but a fine teacher is superb!

Happy Sewing,

Happy New Year: Reflections

I can't believe that we are already fifteen days into the new year.  My life has been a rollercoaster from September to the end of December.  Taking a few moments to think about it all was quite overwhelming.  But one of my greatest takeaways is that I am tremendously blessed.  From surgery to recovery and to retirement.   I'm on the path to new beginnings.

So many possibilities.  At my exit interview with the VP for IT, I was asked if I would come back to work on the training project.  Of course, I said yes.  As I was saying it, I was thinking about all the other things I'd like to be doing.  All the things that I promised myself that I would do.  It's funny how when the opportunity arrives for you to do a new thing, you can't seem to get started with the plan. 

My plan for retirement was to sew more, teach sewing, attend more workshops, and explore the possibilities of creating my own line of accessories.  I also considered taking on a few more clients.  That was my sewing plan for retirement.  I still want to pursue that plan. 

But I feel like a fish out of water without my 9 to 5.  And that's crazy!  This is the time I've been waiting for and I can't seem to put things into motion.  Without my university issued laptop, blogging is almost nonexistent.  The portable convenience of the laptop has me spoiled.  The desktop is inconveniently located in DD's bedroom.  I need to purchase a laptop.

Missed Opportunities:

Today, I'm trying to sort out the sewing related posts that never made it to my blog.  At this point some I won't publish, but there are a few that I think are worthwhile and I will try to get them done. This has not been the best year of sewing for me.  Many projects are half done or barely started.  The good thing is many were started at the end of summer and most are fall/winter garments.

What's Next on my blog:

I will review of the Susan Khalje and Rhonda Buss workshop.  Then expect some projects and some fashion inspiration.  I plan to continue the Notes on a Pattern series.

Blog Update:

The ole blog needs a face lift.  One of the things I'd like to do is to reorganized the content on the blog for easier navigation.  This is something that I've wanted to do for awhile.  Now I have some time to do it.

So that's it for now. 

Happy Sewing!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Hello There!

News Flash!!

It's been so long since my last post.  A lot has happened in my little world.  
  • Khalje/Buss Sewing Workshop was fabulous.  I need to write my review.
  • Working on plaid jacket with leather bound buttonholes and trim.
  • Working on several muslins for dresses and tops.
  • Made a few things:
    • plaid skirt
    • knit dress
    • cardigans
    • knit tops
  • Member of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago Fashion Show Committee 2015.
  • Spending too much time on Instagram.
  • Submitted my letter of retirement on December 3rd.
  • Happily celebrating my new lease on life.  Oh, what will I do with all that time? :-)
  • Cleaning my office.  It is amazing the amount of "stuff" you collect over for years.  I hate to give up my university computers :-(
  • Preparing for a prosperous new year. 
So, I hoping to post the workshop review by Christmas Eve.

In the meantime, Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Multi-Tasking - Sewing Related Activities

I'm all over the place with my sewing activities and projects.  I continue to add projects to the ole to make list. Occassionally, shuffling them around based on my current level of interest or excitement.  I'm ordering and buying fabric from multiple places.  I received a box from Mood with this lovely faux fur in it.  I haven't decided on what jacket/coat to make.

I have a mound of muslin garments cut, ready to sew up and fit.

My pattern collection has grown tremendously over the past few months.  I poured the newly purchased patterns over the dining table.  It looked like an explosion of patterns.Below is only a hand full that I started to trim.  And on top of that, I have a big shopping bag full of projects cut and stored in separate "Vogue" plastic bags.

So.., I will continue to "multi-task" the ole sewing projects and post as soon as I have something note worthy.  Expect to see more "Notes on a Pattern" even though I've only made one of the patterns of interest.

On Saturday, I'm attending a workshop taught by Rhonda Buss and Susan Khalje.  I'm so excited and can't wait to learn from the pros.

What about you?  Are you multi-tasking sewing projects?  Or do you work on them one at a time?

Happy Sewing!

Mixed Greens and Avocado Salad - Healthy Alternative to Fast Food During the Holiday Shopping Season

Black Friday officially starts of the holiday shopping season.  Many of us will spend our evenings and weekend's shopping for gifts and preparing for and going to holiday parties.  The hustle and bustle limits the amount of time we have to prepare home cooked meals.

A health, quick alternative to fast food is a great salad.  One of my favorites is Mixed Greens and Avocado.  It so simple to make and taste great.

Ingredients are:

Baby Kale and Spinach
Marzetti Honey French Dressing
Roasted Chicken Breast (optional)

Without Dressing



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