Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Home Sweet Home

There is no place like home. I just got in from our annual team retreat. My unit serves three campuses and two satellite campuses. Every year the team comes together to talk about what we accomplished in the previous year and to set goals for the coming year(s). Two of us are stationed in Chicago and four in Urbana. So the Chicago group gets to travel and stay overnight. We retreat for a day and half then return to our respective sites and jobs with assigned goals in hand. As I anxiously headed for home, my only thought was to comfortably retire to my bedroom.

The plan is not to go into the office tomorrow as most of my group will work from home. Illinois has been hit with rain and snow storms the last few days. We expect another tonight. The temps are between 10 and 19 degrees. I'm so glad to be home.

I was able to complete the alterations. Now I can get back to my sewing projects. I must admit I was able to read portions of several sewing and crocheting books, finishing two hats, two scarfs, and started a caplet. My crocheting and knitting skills are probably advanced beginner. I've never made a complicated article like a sweater, tunic, or dress. Lately, I been inspired by so many sewists/crafters to try something a little more complex; I have to work my way up to it.

Sigh! Sigh! It's good to be home.


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sewing Leather -

One of my goals for 2008 is to sew something made of leather. While at the library, I borrowed a copy of "Sewing with Leather and Suede" written by Sandy Scrivano. This is a great book for anyone who wants to try their hand at sewing leather or suede. On the cover it states: tips, techniques, and inspiration. It delivers. The contents include: How Leather is Made, Learning about Leather, Tools and Equipment, Special Techniques for Leather and Suede, Projects to Get You Started,..., It follows through to the care and cleaning of leather goods. This book is beautifully illustrated and provides a glossary of terms and descriptions.

Rosanne suggested that I borrow a Mary Roehr book of alterations. They didn't have a copy so I started looking through the stacks of crafting books available. There were loads of books on crocheting, knitting, scrapbooking, sewing, etc. I was impressed. Thanks again Rosanne. I think this is a great way to preview books before buying.

Altered State II - Thanks for Your Suggestions

Thanks everyone. I appreciate your thoughts and suggestions on my previous blog post. I was able to spend some time gathering information for my price list. Rosanne great suggestion on checking my local library for Mary Roehr's how to book on alterations. Saturday afternoon I took a trip to the Woodson Branch Library. Well they didn't have a copy of Roehr's book, but I found tons of books on crafting. Two on related subjects: "Do You Sew for Profit?" a guide for wholesale, retail, and consignment by Barbara Wright Sykes and "The Fashion Designer Survival Guide", an insider's look at starting and running your own fashion business by Mary Gehlar. Both of these are of great interest to me, but are a little off topic. More about that in another post.

This weekend I was able to get some of the alterations done, with one more to complete. Thank you. God! What I wanted to finish most was a price list for alterations. DONE. The price list represents the alterations that I've done in the past. I used information from web and local dry cleaners' price lists. There were a few website that had comprehensive information on Sewing as a Business similar to the text I mentioned above.

Here is my first draft of the Alteration Price List.

Pants unlined $10
Pants lined $15
Cuffed pants unlined $12
Cuffed pants lined $18
Skirt straight unlined $12
Skirt straight lined $24
Skirt flared to full unlined $18
Skirt flared to full lined $24
Sleeves unlined $12 Sleeves lined $18
Jacket sleeves w/vent $24
Jeans $15
Fitting Adjustments
Straps (camisole) $12
Sides taken in or tapered unlined $10 - $16
Sides taken in or tapered lined $24 - $36
Waist taken in unlined $18
Waist taken in lined $18 - $36
Tapered pants through hem unlined $14
Tapered pants through hem lined $24
Repairs and other adjustments*
Replace elastic $6 - $12
Replace zipper skirts $12
Replace zipper dress $12 - $24
Replace zipper pants $12
Reattach zipper $6 - $12
Add hook and eyes, snaps $2 set
Add machine buttonhole $2 ea.
Replace/add button $1 ea.
Shoulder pads inserted $12 - $24
Shoulder pad removed $9 - $18

Prom and evening dresses – depends on style, fabric, etc. Alterations for special occasion garments will be based on $20.00 per hour. Minimum alteration charge $16.00per appointment.

Important Note: The above prices are estimates of general services to be rendered. Special requests can increase the cost of the alterations due to an increase in labor.

Thank you for your patronage.

*Required notions are provided.

This time around I really didn't follow any specific guidelines offered in the information. I kinda combination bites and pieces to come up with something to test on returning and potential clients. My goal is to keep alterations down to a minimum.

For those of you who may be faced with the same challenge, here are some websites that might be helpful:

MSU Cares
CraftLink Resource Centre
Marcia's Makings New Construction and Alteration Pricing

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Altered State

In recent months I decided not to do garment sewing for other people. I really wanted to sew for myself and DD at leisure. For the most part, I have been able to refer and defer people to other sewists or another time. Let me tell you,..., it has been a challenge. I hate to say NO.

This month I received several requests for "pain in the #&!" alterations. I loathe some alterations because they are so time consuming. So this got me to thinking again about a price list for alterations. First a little background. Typically, I do alterations for family, friends and a few referrals by family/friends. It is hard to name a price for that reason (family/friends). So what ends up happening, I do it for free. Not good. Back to the price list. So I've been researching prices for the various alterations that I'm asked to do. One of the things that I'll work on this weekend is a price list for alterations. Two people are expecting to pick up their garments by Monday and I want them to be able to take my "new price list" with them. It's a plan.

Happy Sewing!

It's the Weekend

I'm very thankful that the weekend has come. It's very cold in the mid-west, temperatures hi 9 lo 4 degrees. The plan is to avoid coming outside, clean house, cook, organize sewing projects and sew something.

Last night I was able to read some of my favorite blogs. So many have already started thinking about their spring wardrobes. I really haven't put a lot of thought into my wardrobe for the upcoming season. There are several pieces for fall and winter on the cutting table or in a bin that I want to make.

A few sewists posted their thoughts on the Michael Kor V1029 with the ruching down the backside. All thumbs down. JoAnn and Hancock's have had pattern sales and I picked up a few. lol. I also grabbed a few New Look patterns from Walmart's. They are a little cheaper than Joann's. This year I am carefully selecting patterns to add to my collection. What I mean by that is picking patterns with a style element that isn't included in any pattern that I already have. Occassionally, I mix and match pattern pieces and views to come up with my own design based on an inspirational piece or fitting preference. It is my desire to make this approach a common practice since I have so much to chose from already. Here are my recent additions and why I chose them:

I like the coat. I'm not too crazy about the 3/4 length sleeves on this coat. ...,would use the sleeve on the jacket instead.

The attraction to this one was the closures and collars variations.

I want to make jogging pants and tank tops for my spa vacation in March. This pattern fits the bill.

Recently my attention has turned to accessories. I've never made gloves before, and I liked the designs that this pattern has to offer.

I have a cap similar to view D, second on the right. ..., would like a few more.

Another selected for spa weekend. Purchased this pattern for the cover up. Also like the white suit minus the tie.

Don't have a jacket with a yoke back, band over back elastic detail.

This one is for my sister. This jacket is the caller.

I really like to fullness of these pants with the combination of the pocket variations.

The front detailing on the jacket is what prompted me to buy this one. It looks a little retro and I like retro.

Finally, View B (red skirt) is for my DD.

Last but not least, I purchased some more fabric from Gorgeous Fabrics. No ideas on what to make yet.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

What's Next? - Finishing Up The Fall Collection

Two more dresses (V8411-C and S3673-A) for me and the final pieces (S3690)of the UCG Fall Collection 2007 for DD. I really pondered making these next two dresses. Linda (Danvillegirl) suggested that I ask Dawn (Secret Pocket) for a possible fitting solution for V8411, and Ann (Gorgeous Things) suggested that I take a look at Summerset's blog on S3673 for a better understanding on the sizing of this pattern. Thanks everyone. Both dresses will be cut at size 14. These will be the last two dresses for a while. I want finish up some of my UFO's and try a few pieces from the November 2007 Burda Magazine. As for DD, she wants View D and A (S3690). I think I'll add a pocket to the pants. DD is entering the second semester of her junior year and is starting to prepare for the internship program. She will probably use this as an interview outfit. I have some black wool crepe that will be perfect for this.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Dress M5269

I had no special occasion in mind when I decided to make this dress. I was inspired to try this pattern after reading Ann's, Gorgeous Things, review on PR. Ann is so creative. She made an exquisite couture garment from this simple pattern. For me, I stuck with the basic design for making my version of this dress.

Pattern Description: MISSES’/MISS PETITE DRESS: Straight, fitted, lined dress, below mid-knee has princess seams, yoke front, back zipper and cap sleeves with pleats; dress A has back slit; dress B has flounce; dress C has ruffle with stay forming bubble. I made view A.

Pattern Sizing: 4 - 18, I made 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? There was nothing complicated or confusing about the instructions.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I liked the style of the dress. At first, I thought about making view B but decided to make view A because I tend to gravitate towards dresses/skirts with a flounce or fullness at the bottom.

Fabric Used:Polyester satin and lining from TDW.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: Yes. I did my usual alterations: FBA, broad shoulders, sway back, and added two inches to the length. I inserted an invisible zipper instead of a regular one.

Added accessory: I made an belt (optional) to wear with this dress and another that I plan to make for the summer. The making of the belt is in the previous post.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Maybe view C. Yes I would recommend it to others.

Conclusion This dress is classic, but stylish. It's easy to wear.

Belt for Dress M5269

One of the things I've been trying to do lately is feature out ways to use remnants from previous sewing projects. Over the years, I have accumulated several boxes. So with this project I decided to make a belt. The inspiration for making this belt comes from Cadena Fashion magazine. This is one of my absolute favorite inspiration mags.

Here's the dress belt combo.
I used S6763 to create the roses for it.
I added a finish piece to concile the raw edges of the flowers and leaves.

The Process:

Belt - To make the belt I cut two stripes of fabrice 4 inches wide 35 inches long. I fused interfacing of the same size to each piece. Then I sew them together leaving a 4 inch opening in the middle of one of the long seams. Turned the belt to the right side, pressed and stitched the opening closed. Three Hooks and Eyes are sewn on for closure.

Roses and stems - I cut three roses, four leaves, four stems, and three finishers. The leaf is a circle piece of fabric with four notches separating four even quarters of the circle.

Fold the circle in half.

Bring the outer ends to the middle of the half circle. Baste along the curve edge twice for gathering.

Fold the flower piece in half and stitch for gathering. Baste the finish piece and pull the thread to slightly turn the raw edge to the wrong side of the fabric.

Prepared flower pieces for assembling.

The pattern instructions only suggest rolling the flower onto itself to form the rose. I'm always afraid it will come undone without securing it with stitches. So as I roll I stitch the outer fabric to the forming rose. Then I stitch the formed leaves to the rose in the same manner.

Once the leaves are attached to the rose, I slip stitch the finishing piece to the base of the flower.

The finished roses are then assembled and attached to the belt as desired.

I added stems after the photographed process. They can be created using basic spaghetti strap construction.

The Sewing Divas recently posted An Alternative for Real Buttons: Make a Dior Rose.

Purse M4679

I had about 1 yard of material after cutting out my dress. So I decided to test drive this bag .


Pattern Description:
SOFT HANDBAGS: Package includes patterns and instructions to make lined handbags bag A, B - 16" W × 12" H; bag C - 14" W × 10" H; bag D - 6" W × 4" H; bag E, F - 17" W × 10" H; all measurements are approximate and exclude handles or straps; bag A, C, D, F have contrast sections; bag B has purchased handles; bag A, B, C, E, F have inside pocket.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Pretty much. I omitted the tassel and used one fabric color.

Were the instructions easy to follow? Basically. I had a trouble getting the zipper stop section at the top of the purse toto roll out evenly.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the style of this purse. Clutch bags are popular these days. Nothing to dislike. Linda, Danvillegirl, has a similar bag pictured on her Wists list on the homepage of her blog.

Fabric Used: Leftover polyester satin and lining purchased from the TDW.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I made no changes.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?Yes, This is my prototype for making a leather version of this purse. This year I want to practice making some leather accessories.

I like this bag and would recommend it to others.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Jacket M5530

I made this jacket help spruce up the dress made from M4930.
After I completed it, I didn't like the jacket with the dress. My sister came over yesterday; saw the jacket; and decided that I should make one for her. She is not a fan of animal print a solid purple, red, or black fabric will do. While she had it on, I took pictures. As far as fit, it's a little big for her; but this jacket is more suited for her body shape than mine. Here is my review:

Pattern Description: MISSES’ LINED JACKETS: Jackets A, B have princess seams, collar and sleeve length variations, topstitching and button closure; jacket A has collar ends slipped through loop and three-quarter length sleeves; jacket B has stand-up collar and long sleeves; jacket C is lined to edge with front princess seams, front and back elastic, gathered collar and button closure. I made view C.

Pattern Sizing: 4 - 18. I made a 14 with alterations.

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 easy to follow. The pattern pieces went together with no problems. I omitted the top stitching at the neckline. I didn't want to risk ruining the finished neckline with uneven top stitching.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I like the style of this jacket. The combination of the fabric (faux far) and the collar is what I like the most. My dislike is that it doesn't quite suit my body shape. I'm a little top heavy and short waisted. It makes me look bulky on top. Other than that nothing to dislike.

Fabric Used: I purchased the faux fur from Jo Ann's last year February/March. The lining is polyester lining purchased at the Textile Discount Warehouse.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made: I did a FBA and length the jacket by one inch.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? Yes, I plan to make view C for my sister and try some variation of view A for myself.

Here are a few pictures of me wearing my jacket with M4930:

Conclusion This is a stylish jacket that can be made up in a variety of fabrics. I would recommend it to beginners.

Dress M4930

This dress was made from a Palmer/Pletsch teaching pattern M4930.

Pattern Description: MISSES’ LINED JACKET, DRESS AND PANTS: Hip length jacket has front darts, side princess seams, pockets in front princess seam and two-piece sleeves with buttonhole and button; knee length dress has princess seams, back zipper and extended armholes; pants have fly front, front pleats, back darts and side seam pockets.

Pattern Sizing: Sizes 8 to 22. I made a size 14 with alterations.

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

Were the instructions easy to follow? The pattern pieces included cutting lines to make various alterations to achieve the "perfect classic fit". But the instructions didn't include directions on how the make the adjustments. Also included is an order from for the reference books at a discount price. I guess this is they way of encouraging people to purchase the books.

This is one of five dresses that I made muslins for in October 2007. I chose it for the simplicity of the design and the trumpet shaped skirt. I found that the more pieces required for the upper body, the easier it is for me to achieve a good fit. Like most of us I do not fit a pattern straight out of the envelope. I have to do a sway back, broad shoulder, and full bust adjustments. Over the passed few years, my weight has fluctuated five to twenty pounds. With each metamorphosis of weight gain or loss, it's redistributed differently. Getting the right fit can be a moving target. But this pattern helps address that issue.

Fabric Used: Polyester gaberdine from Jo Ann's and the polyester lining from the Textile Discount Warehouse.

Pattern Alterations or any design changes you made:I made the three adjustment mentioned above. I also added two inches to the length of the dress; I'm tall. This dress did not call for a lining; so I underlined it to add some body. And finally I lower the center neckline by 3/4 inch and added trim to it.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I will probably make some of the other pieces to this pattern. I have other dresses that I would like to try.

Conclusion This is a good teaching pattern. This dress is simple and offers the sewer an opportunity to test other sewing techniques.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Haute Couture - Part III

"Vogue Sewing" c1982, features a few couture techniques in Chapter 9 (The Custom Touch). It discusses the hidden details that distinguishes a dress from "The Dress". These distinguishing details include: underlining, lining, hand application of a zipper, bound buttonholes, inside waist stay, foundation supports, fabric stays, weights, (covered snaps, hooks, eyes, and buttons), hong kong finish, hand-rolled narrow hems, etc. There are some sewing and design fasionistas that feature haute couture sewing techniques on their blogs. Here are a few links of interest:

This fall Erica B. and Laura created beautiful Chanel jackets. Belinda's Sew 4 Fun as an excellent tutorial on bound buttonholes. And the Sewing Divas have several posts on couture sewing: Haute Couture and Couture.

Haute Couture - "To me it means only 2 things: (1) A particular and very specific type of business model for custom clothing manufacture unique to France, where it was invented and still maintained in a much diminished state from its heyday in the 1950's, and (2) it's a particular type of sewing that primarily uses hand sewing for most of the garment construction . It does not apply to: accessories, home dec, cosmetics or anything made in a factory."

The Sewing Divas

Friday, January 4, 2008

Returning to Work

Wednesday was the first day of work for me since December 18th. I am exhausted. I feel like I've been working seven days straight. Go figure?! I want it go see P vs. A. Don't have the energy. I want to finish my two dresses and jacket (minor work needed: hemming and pressing). Don't have the energy. I want to start writing my five reviews (dresses, jacket, purse, and belt). Don't feel like it. Oh well. May be I'll get something done tomorrow.

..., I sure do wish I was independently wealthy.

Haute Couture - Part II

Alethia of Kassmin's Creations suggested that I check out a video on You Tube about Couture sewing. Thanks, Alethia. I couldn't find the suggested video, but I did find several related to fashion.

This is Chanel Haute Couture.

There is an entire series on the House of Chanel. This one is Episode 3 Rituals Part 3 of 4.

Barack Obama - Man of Hope!

Everyone Please exercise your right to vote, no matter who's your candidate, vote. Registering is as easy as making a telephone call. 1-866-MyVote1.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Haute or Not?

What does couture mean to you?

"Couture is custom-made fit and custom-made style. It's fashioned into reality by the highest authority of it, style, color, shape and carftsmanship to render the finest garment and enhance the best visual aspect of the wearer."

Carolina Amato, July 24, 2007

I'm a faithful subscriber to Sew News magazine and would like to recommend that you pick up a copy of the January/February 2008 issue. It features 15 Ideas: Turn Cast-Offs Into Courture. This is a great issue.

Couture Spotlight:

Secondhand Steals
Vintage Revival
Make It You
Stitch to Stage
Eye on Interfacing
Final Detail
Haute or Not?
The Spotlight

Chicagoan on the Year - My Girl, Dee Alexander

News Flash!!!

I'm glad so happy for My Girl, Ms. Dee Dee, aka Hollywood. I had planned to feature Dee on this blog, but what can I say. She is Front page news of the Chicago Tribune. Dee is named Chicagoan of the Year.

Here is the story.

Chicago Tribune

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The Great Debaters - Denzel Washington

This was an excellent film. I love movies that shed a positive light on African-Americans. Denzel Washington and the cast of this movie brought this story to life. To see the Melvin B. Tolson story of his phonomenonal debate team was beautiful in itself. In my opinion, this movie was well scripted and acted. The cast of young people was outstanding. Their passionate performance catapulted you back in time, making the viewer (me) experience the 1930's. The viewer feels the struggle, the fear, the determination, the triumph of victory. My hat's off to Mr. Forest Whitaker for bringing this story to the big screen. This is a must see movie, not for the "beautiful looking people", but for the beauty of love, talent, and victory.

New Year's Resolution - Striving for Excellence

After reading Carolyn's Recap 2007 and Adrienne's Resolution, Do You Make Them? posts I started thinking about what I can do to improve myself and my skills. I never really make a resolution about crafting, but Andrienne got me to thinking about it after a brief e-mail exchange last Thursday. So this year I decided to expand on my current resolution practices by putting some words to what I hope to accomplish in 2008. My general resolution theme is Striving for Excellence. Continuously and constantly striving to do better and be better in general.

Better Blogging -

Blogging is new to me this year. I have been reading blogs for several years and finally got up the courage to participate in this wonderful phenomenon. It's educational, motivating, inspiring, encouraging, and rewarding. It allows me to learn from fellow artists, share my experiences, improve my writing skills, and gives an opportunity to develop new friendships as far as the internet reaches. It's absolutely awesome.

I already talk about things other than sewing: like cooking, entertainment, travel, family events. I want to add a few more features. Occassionally I want to have
special features (eg., Breast Cancer article), spiritual reads, improved blog layout and content, and to purchase a better camera.

Better Sewing -

More Challenging projects - This year I took on the challenge of sewing dresses for two wedding parties. It was way too much work for me to do very well and maintain a adequate productivity at my 9 to 5. This year's challenging projects will be more skill related vs. quantity of service. I'll be more selective in what I decide to take on. My personal challenges: leather working of some kind and two or three new techniques.

New sewing machine - I've been wanting an industrial sewing machine (straight stitch) for while and would like to make this my 2008 equipment purchase. The other machine I've got have is an embroidery machine. I would like to least put a hefty down payment on one of these babies this year.

Refine terms and conditions for clients - Last Fall I updated my terms and conditions, but it still needs some fine tuning. Standardize my price list of services.

Purchase more reference books - My wish list is huge. Currently there are 18 on the list. I want to at least buy: High Fashion Sewing Secrets from the World's Best Designers, Patternmaking for Fashion Design, and The Art of Manipulating Fabric.

Get better organized - I don't have a designated space for sewing and my sewing machines and supplies. They are stored throughout my apartment and designated storage room in the basement. I need to bring it all together and figure out the best way to keep track of everything.

UFO's - Complete at least half of my UFO's. I have two rubbermaid bins filled with UFO's.

Join some crafting organization/attend a craft convention. Possibilities: ASG, Creativfestival, PR Annual Conference. I have several friends in Chicago who sew, but I think it would be equally benefical to join a organization or attend a convention.

I think this is a reasonable resolution for blogging and sewing. The rest of my resolution relates to work, improving and expanding my career skill set, being a better me: spiritual awareness, contibutions, and self-improvement over all.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a happy and prosperous new year!

Coming soon:

Resolution 2008
Pattern reviews: M4930, M5269, M4679, M5530
Movies I've seen: The Perfect Christmas and The Debaters


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