Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Summer Dress Challenge 2011 - Sewing and Fitting PT IV

First, thanks everyone for your comments on my recent sewing projects. As always, I appreciate your kind words.

This weekend I sewed and did a preliminary fitting of my Dress Sew Along project. I know I'm already seven days past the deadline, but that's all right. The dress looks good. And I wanted to share my progress.

I really like the way this dress is coming together.  Sewing silk is a dream.

I must admit, sewing the underlining to the fashion fabric was not my favorite part of this process.  My stitches are looonnng. Lol

As I was fitting the bodice, I kept forgetting that I made larger seam allowances to help with the fitting.  The lower armholes crumble in my armpits.  I will trim off the excess before I add the sleeve caps.

No zipper yet.  I thought I had one.  Yesterday I picked up a sage invisible zipper.  May be I'll put it in tonight.

Here's a full front view of the underlining.  It gives the dress a little more body.  The silk is a lighter weight dupioni.  Holding it to the light, I can see through it.  So the underlining and lining will make the dress opaque.

Parting Shot:  My friend, Patti Ferguson, gave me this beautiful 4-ply silk charmeuse.  The Haute Couture Club has a "Sew Red" challenge this fall.  I'll use it for that challenge.  Thanks again Patti.

By next week I should have the zipper and the sleeves in.  May be I'll have the lining sewn together as well.  Until then, Happy Sewing!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jewel Box Friday - Pandora Bracelets

I've been tossing around the idea of doing a weekly post about jewelry. My DD makes costume jewelry, sometimes with semi precious stones and sometimes with gold and/or silver. She always coming up with interesting pieces. And of course, I'm always willing to "model" and sometimes buy the jewelry.

The latest creations are her version of the Pandora Bracelet. She and I have spotted the bead laden bracelets on celebrities (pictured in magazines). Everyone is wearing them. Here are few that are in my jewelry box.

The beads can be purchased at Fire Mountain Gems or Oriental Trading Company. Below are two more one for me and the other for me DS.

So, what do you think about Pandora Bracelets?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

V1100 Black and Red


I finally finished this outfit. The dress took the longest. During the process of making it I had a few pitfalls. For one, I should consider the possible issues with the neck band and the fabric weight. It would have been better to use a light weight fabric. It was a challenge to create a smooth neck band. A few months ago I got this bright idea that I needed to go up a size for a little more room (easier fitting). Wrong.., This is the third dress cut at size 16 that turned out to be too big, especially above the bust line.

The good thing is; I finished both pieces. Now I can finally wear them to work. I know it's summertime. But I live in Chicago. One day it's 95 degrees and the next it's 70. So I will have opportunities to wear it before the fall season comes.

Pattern Description: MISSES' JACKET, TOP, DRESS, SKIRT AND PANTS: Loose-fitting, lined jacket A has two-piece collar, two-piece, three-quarter length raglan sleeves with cuffs, front princess seams, mock welts, inverted back pleat, slightly flared back hemline and single buttonhole and button closure. Semi-fitted, lined top B or below mid-knee, straight dress C has neck band, front pleats and back zipper. C: center back hemline slit. Straight, below mid-knee skirt D has raised waistline, back zipper and back hemline vent. Straight pants E have back zipper, waistline is finished with grosgrain ribbon. Purchased belt.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 6 to 20. I made size 16 scaled down to a 14 with modifications.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? The instruction were okay. Vogue did not provide instructions on how to finish the neckband. I slip stitched it closed. The next item is not a change in the construction. The jacket has a back pleat and it's lined. The instructions are to leave the lining separate from the hemline. I connected it. Then I noticed that the lined opened pleat looks a little wonky, but it hangs well.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
Dress - I liked the neckline; keyhole and the pleats. I dislike the bulkiness of the neck band. It hard to get a smooth finish.
Jacket - I like the pleated back, the cuffs, and the two piece collar. Having two separate pattern pieces for the collar is great; the upper collar slightly rolls under to create a nice finish. This is not really a dislike of the style or pattern, but I wish there were instructions on how to attach the lining to the jacket with pleats.

Fabric Used: Red wool and lining from New Rainbow Fabrics. Black wool from Bubby's. Jacket lining from JoAnn's.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I did my usual adjustments plus cutting at a larger size. Then scaling the dress back down to size 14. For the jacket, the instructions say you should top stitching the entire hemline. I only top stitched to the seam line of the front side. I also sewed the lining to the hem of the jacket.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I probably won't sew this again. I have a lot other patterns I want to try. The dress is a silhouette that is common in many of the dresses I sew. The jacket is somewhat different for me. It's a good compliment to my current wardrobe. I like the look of both garments. If this is your style of dress and/or jacket, try it. Be careful with the neck band. You want to achieve smoothness. It is a focus point and a less than polished look will draw attention. Also, I don't think many people can make this straight out of the envelope. It may be a good idea to make a muslin.

More Pictures Here.

Conclusion: This pattern has good bones to it and is worth a try. This five piece wardrobe is a good choice for complimenting your work gear. The jacket can be worn over other similar styles.

Monday, June 20, 2011

M6078 - Easy, Cute Top

I'm still not finished with the Summer Dress Challenge. I took a good look at the projects started way back when and decided I needed to do some damage control. No more UFO's. This top and several others were sitting in the bag.

I needed/wanted a new top to wear to a baby shower on Saturday afternoon. So I quickly sewed up this one. Yes quickly. It took about two hours.


Pattern Description: Misses' tops: Top A has front and back stitched pleats, front drape, lapped back and extended shoulder seams; top B has stitched front pleats and drape; top C has front drape and contrast loops.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes X-Small to X-Large; I made size M; view C.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Yes. I didn't make contrasting loops.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Very easy. All levels can make this top.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the drape neckline and the ease of making this top. Dislike: None.

Fabric Used: A four way stretch knit from Vogue. This was in my stash.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I only added 1/2" to the side seams and a few inches to the length. For the side seams I slightly tapered in after the bust area through the waistline.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I plan to make the another views. When I don't know. I still have a bag of knit tops to sew plus a few dresses. But I recommend it to everyone. It's easy to sew and comfort to wear. No fuss and stylish. You can't beat that.

Conclusion: This a stylish top that is easy to sew. A beginner can make this with no problems.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Dress Challenge 2011 - Marking, Aligning and Basting Part III

I think the today is the last day for the Dress Challenge. I'm no where close to finish. Oh well..,

The next step in the process of underlining is marking it. The underlining is the canvas for marks to guide stitching. I cut the underlining first leaving the seam allowances wide to allow leeway in fitting and design. Pictured below is the front bodice, which is cut on the fold. I apologize for the lighting. The markings aren't clear, but I hope you'll get the general idea.

Mark all stitching lines. They can be referenced from a muslin that was used to fit the garment. Then copy every detail:  notches, grain line, and circles.

The next step (not pictured) align the fabric and underlining. Match the grainlines. Be careful. Make sure nothing gets trapped between the layers. Next pin in the seam allowances. The pins should be perpendicular to the stitching line. Finally, smooth the layers. Check and repin as necessary.

Baste the layers together.

After the alignment process is finished carefully baste the layers together by hand. Do not machine stitch. Hand stitches gives you better control in keeping the layers from shifting.

Use rayon or silk thread. It goes in smoothly and pulls out easily when it's time to remove it. Use new thread for every line. You want one continuous line of thread for each seam. Go pass the points of intersection to give yourself a clear indication where the seams cross.

After all pieces have been carefully marked, aligned and basted, sew everything together for a fitting.

Other Considerations -

  • Let bias cut-layers hang before joining. 
  • You can shift color with underlining.  Off white organza is unobtrusive.  But a pale pink matched with chocolate underlining changes the color to rum pink.

My fabric has a boarder print. I'm not using it in the dress, but I will use it for the sash. My next steps are to sew the dress together for fitting. Maybe I'll have it finished by the end of the month.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer Dress Challenge 2011 - Selecting Underlining Part II

I decided to underline my garment when I purchased the fabric.  Underlining in some cases provides stability.  But underlining also can play other roles in a garment depending on the effect you want to achieve.  You have to consider what you want the underlining area to do:  drape, stand up, or fold.  For a fitted, boned bodice your may use flannel to camouflage and muslin for strength.  Silk organza would be perfect to add lightweight support in a skirt or sheath dress.

For my Summer Dress, I decided to use silk organza because it's stable and easy to work with.  It's a perfect match for silk dupioni. In any case, you want to cast the correct underlining.  Here are some options to consider:

Lofty - single or double faced cotton flannel camouflages construction details.
Heavy - Cotton broadcloth, muslin, crinoline, and twill offer firm support.
Drapey: Silk crepe de chine and rayon maintain movement.
Light - Silk chiffon is gentle; silk organza, crisp.  Cotton voile or cotton batiste add soft support.

Pretreat your fabrics.  Steam the fashion fabric and wash any cotton underlining in hot water.  Do not wash silk organza; it won't shrink.

Fabric and Underlining Combinations -

Silk Chiffon and Silk Chiffon Underlining
Linen-Silk Blend and Muslin Underlining
Four-Ply Silk Crepe and Silk Crepe De Chine Underlining
Silk Dupioni and Silk Organza Underlining
Wool Crepe and Silk Organza Underlining

That it for the installment. Next Marking the inner layer and Aligning the underlining and fabric.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Haute Couture Club Luncheon at the Chicago Yacht Club

All the sewing ladies converged in the Chicago Yacht Club for their annual luncheon. The June Luncheon parts the close of our year. We will not meet again until September. The luncheon event includes the announcement of the new officers, fall challenges, fashion committee and the theme.

The is my second year as a member and it's still fun. The atmosphere is festive. There is continuous chatter and jiggles throughout the room. No uncomfortable silences; everyone is gay.

It was quite sunny and very HOT in Chicago on Saturday afternoon. It must have been about 95 degrees; humidity about 67 percent. HOT.., It was good to be in a place that wasn't too warm or too cold. Our hostess for the luncheon was Jane Vartan. I believe her husband is a member of the Chicago Yacht Club. And because of his membership we were are to have our annual event at the club. Thank you Jane. It was wonderful.

So not to be too chatty, here are the pictures from the luncheon.

Marty Moser, Club President.  She is holding a piece of the candy that Jane made for us.

My girls.
Carol Scott, Fashion Show Committee 2011

Debbie, Mary and Sandy (Fashion Show 2011)
These lovely ladies made their sheath dresses during the Helen Haughey workshop.  Beautiful craftsmanship.
Kathy M. designed and sewed this beautiful silk jacket.
Ms. Evans is so delightful. It's always good to see her.  She is sporting a jacket made by her daughter Francine D.
The Fashion Show 2012 committee taking the Oath.
Rhonda B. will head the Fashion Show Committee 2012

V1097 is the November group challenge.  The club members are to use this pattern to create their one of a kind coat or jacket.

More pictures can be found here.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, June 6, 2011

M5974- What I Wore to the Fashion Show


Pattern Description: MISSES' AND WOMEN'S DRESSES: Dresses A, B, C, D have bodice variations with front pleats, neckline variations, self-faced midriff, pleated skirt front, back zipper and sleeves in three lengths; dresses A, B have scoop neck; dress A has short sleeves; dress B has long sleeves; dresses C, D have wrapped bodice, “V” neck and self-ties; dress C has three-quarter length sleeves; dress D has long sleeves; dresses A, B, C, D length is 1" below mid-knee.

Pattern Sizing: 8 -24W.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? Nothing confusing.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the "V" neck, the tie, and the full skirt. Nothing to dislike.

Fabric Used: Jersey knit (Vogue Fabrics - I shop there a lot.)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I need a FBA, prominent shoulder blade and sway back adjustments. Also added a few inches to the skirt and about an inch to the sleeve.

NOTE - I cut this dress at size 16. Palmer Pletsch side seam allowance is 1". I sewed at least 1 1/2 side seams. The dress was still a little big through the shoulder to the hip. It may be a combination of the stretch in the knit and sizing. I could have easily made the size 14. Wearing it, I noticed the shoulder seam was about a 1/4 inch too long. The belt is a little too short for me. Next time I'll add a few inches to it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes and yes.

Conclusion: Nice mock wrap dress. A beginner can sew this dress with no problems.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

V1250 - The Easiest Dress Ever

Vogue 1250

Pattern Description: MISSES' DRESS: Close-fitting dress.

Pattern Sizing: 6-20; I used size 14.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? A piece of cake. This pattern only had three pieces. Simple: 1, 2, 3 and it's done.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? It was easy, attractive, and sewed together in two hours. No dislikes.

Fabric Used: Jersey knit; I think rayon from the remnant room at Vogue for about $10.00.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I added two inches to the length. Instead of machine sewing the hem of the sleeves, I hand stitched them. It was easier to control the fabric. I added stitch witchery to the hem of the dress to help control the movement of the fabric as it passed through the needle path.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? YES, and YES. Carolyn is my enabler. Lol After reading her post about her third dress, I couldn't resist. My next version, I will tweak it just a little. At the small of my back it stands away from my body. I want it to lay closer to me.

Conclusion: This is a great dress that is super easy and super cute. It's sews together within two hours time. Love it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

V1205 - Lady in Red

Pattern Description: Misses' Dress, Close fitting, tapered, above mid-knee, lined dresses. A, B have front gathers, shaped seams, back darts, back invisible zipper and back vent. A: gathered, contrast upper left front.

Pattern Sizing: 8-22. I made size 14 with modifications.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? No problems and nothing confusing about them.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Everything. The style and fit. I even liked that this pattern had a back facing that attached to the lining. No to dislike. This is a great dress.

Fabric Used: Moderate knit from Joann's (red), Contrast animal print from Hancock. BTW- It's swim suit fabric. Imagine that. It's perfect for the contrast.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I did my usual FBA, prominent shoulder blades and lengthen it a few inches. For the contrast, I made the lining from the same fabric instead of the tricot lining. I liked it better.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Not for myself. My sister wants one. I do recommend it to others. It's a super cute dress that sews together with no problem.

I love, love this dress. It easy dress to sew with great results.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Alvin Ailey Dance Troop - Chicago May 2011

On May 21st I had the pleasure of going to see the Alvin Ailey Dance Troop at the Auditorium Theater. It was great!

Me holding the program.

The photo below is from Revelation which was danced at the climax of the show. Wonderful, wonderful.

After the show we floated over to Amarit for dinner. The tasty food was well presented.

We started with the cucumber salad.

Then some delicious Thai fried rice (chicken).

To finish, A crying Tiger (grilled steak). That sauce on the side makes for a very tasty steak.  So if you are in Chicago, stop by Amarit at 600 South Dearborn. The food is good and the atmosphere is pleasant.

Happy weekend everyone! Saturday (June 4th) Is the Haute Couture Club annual spring Luncheon. Stay Tuned.


Summer Dress Challenge 2011 - NL 6824

Finally, I decided on the dress I will make for the Summer Dress Challenge 2011. The challenge is from June 1st through the 15th. I'm using silk dupioni (Fishman's), silk organza and cotton muslin (New Rainbow) to make the pink view with scoop neckline (NL6824). This will be the forth time around for this pattern.

As part of the goodie bag (PR Weekend in Chicago), I received the May issue of Threads magazine. It's loaded with techniques and tutorials that will help improve sewing skills. Susan Khalje's article on underlining gave me a whole new prospective on underlining garments. I'll incorporate some of her principles into this garment.

This, of course, will be one of many posts about my experience. I hope it's interesting and helpful to you. Thirteen days to go. Hmmm.., We will see how it goes. No doubt I will finish the dress. By the deadline, that's questionable. Lol

Happy Sewing,


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