Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Preoccupied! January 2012

Oooh! Too much of everything else is keeping me from sewing and blogging. Grrr! What is my preoccupation? Here's the short version:

  • Training - Business Process Analysis - Leadership Program - Six Sigma (the nerd in me, loves this kind of stuff.)
  • School - Taking a class in Statistics  (more fun)
  • Work - It's picking up again.  Thank God!
  • Most recently, addressing some health issues (not so fun)
  • ASG meeting - good program on silk
  • Finished Burda 7303 outfit (not too pleased with the outcome)
  • Working on my stripe challenge garment
Hopefully, this weekend I will get some sewing and blogging done. 

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

McCall's 6163 - The First Cut - My Wearable Muslin

McCalls 6163

There another dress that was inspired by you. After seeing so many beautiful renditions of this dress on Pattern Review, I decided to give this dress a try.

This is my wearable muslin. After finishing the dress, I noted several things to change in the next version. The first is to use a better knit fabric. At first glance, I thought this knit was of fairly decent quality, but as I sewed and handled the fabric, I discovered it didn't have the texture or the durability that I assumed when I purchased it from the store. So I'm calling this my wearable muslin.

McCall's describes this dress pattern as a misses' and women's dresses and sash: Close fitting, above mid-knee length dresses A, B, C, D have mock wrap front, gathered at left side, collar, collar band, raglan sleeves, side zipper and stitched hems: dress A has below elbow length sleeves gathered with elastic; dress B has short sleeves and sash; dresses C, D have long gathered sleeves with cuff; dress D has sash with optional purchased tassels.

Sizing from 8 to 24W; I used 14 with modifications.

My dress looks like the dress worn by the model minus the belt. The instructions were typical and easy to follow. I used a knit jersey from Vogue.

My likes:

  • mock wrap dress - flattering
  • gathering or ruching at the side
  • full, gathered sleeve with cuff
  • loop closure on the cuff
  • center back seam for better fitting
  • belt option with tassel detail

My dislikes:

  • As pictured on the model, the cuff is wide. Note how it falls on the models hand. It's big enough to put your hand through the opening without unbuttoning the cuff. I like the cuff to fit closer to my wrist. Next time I will make the cuff smaller.
  • The vamp is a little low for my taste. I will raise it about a inch and half next time.
  • The collar band is too narrow for me. I'll add 1/4 inch to the next version.
  • The zipper is not necessary. I should be omitted from the design/instructions. I omitted it and was able to put the dress on without a struggle.

These changes (dislikes) will make the dress ideal for me.

I made a FBA following Ann's (Gorgeous Things) tutorial. This dress is short. I added two inches, could have added a few more. I also added elastic to the neck line to ensure a snug fit across the upper chest area. Sway back and a small shoulder blade adjustment as usual.

Like I said earlier, I will make this one again. It's a good one to try. Definitely a winner. It wears easy and not difficult to make.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts on Sewing for the Year 2012

Quality - that's my main goal.  Yes, to get as close to perfect as possible.

Every year I talk about quality vs. quantity. Am I achieving this goal? Sometimes. And other times, I get in a hurry to finish. That's when the quality diminishes. It's little things only recognized by me.

Much of my improved skill in sewing can be attributed to my fellow sewing, blogging friends who show a technique or express a thought about how to better execute construction techniques. So I'm constantly learning from you and other sewing related resources.

The List:

  • Reduce the fabric stash. Use what I already have to get it to a manageable level. I'm starting to forget what's already in the fabric collection.
  • Sew more Burda. I have years of magazines and patterns to chose from.
  • Sew Rhonda Buss designs. She designed several patterns last year that I want to try.
  • Spend some time sewing with my mom. Last year I thought about this, but didn't do it. She sews at her house and I at mine. We need to have a few meet ups.
  • Learn and try a few more sewing techniques. I like hand sewing and would like to try a few more couture techniques.
  • Make a Chanel jacket.
  • Make a Cadena inspired outfit.
  • Learn to make gloves (January 25th).
That's the short of it. We're already ten days into the new year.  It's pass time to get it started.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Simplicity Deluxe Bias and Piping Machine in Review

Simplicity has some nifty small machines designed to make custom trim to add to your sewn creations.  I tested the Deluxe Bias Tape and Piping machine.  And this little baby is able to crank out beautiful custom made single fold bias tape and piping in a fraction of the time it takes to make them the old-fashioned way.

Piping is a versatile embellishment that is easy to use.  You may add it to the edge of a collar, pocket, hem, sleeve.  And you can sew it between seams.   It's also great for  finishing home dec projects.
Single fold bias tape is great for neckline and armhole curves.  I even use it for hems in dresses and slacks.

It took me a while to get the hang of it.  I read the instructions, set up the machine and tried my hand at making piping.  I wasn't getting the quality piping that I expected.  So I went over the instructions again to discover I didn't make sure the heating element was properly fitted to the machine.  Once I resolved the issue, it worked like a charm.

The machine comes with all the tools to create bias tape and piping.  You'll need to buy the adhesive and cording.  Simplicity carries a variety of tools to help make using the machine a smooth process, but I was able to get nice piping and bias tape without them.  You can also purchase tips of different sizes for various width and core sizes.

Single Fold Bias Tape


What I like about this machine:

It is compact, easy to assemble and easy to store.
Once assembled a push of a button starts the process and produces perfect bias tape and piping.
You can make your own custom piping and tape in complementary or contrasting fabric.  

What I didn't like about it:

No adhesive was included with the machine for make the piping.  You had to go out and purchase that separately.
I wish the spindle for the adhesive had a cap or stay to stabilize it.  The tape fell off the spindle a few times while making the piping.

This is a great small machine to have in your sew room.  It's easy to assemble and produces perfect piping and bias tape.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Year in Review - 2011

I pondered and pondered; what angle could I use to make my year end review interesting? Nothing came to mind. So I looked at my previous reviews for help. What I noticed is that all of them included a tally of projects I finished. I noticed a steady increase in the number of things sewn. In 2011 I sewed about 65% for myself. Whereas in 2009 its about half for me and half for others.

Does this imply my generosity is growing thin? Or is sewing for others becoming a bit too stressful? Or has teaching sewing replaced the client projects that I normally take in? Well it's a little of everything. When I'm too stressed, it's harder to control my blood pressure. Clients can be very demanding. Often, more emotionally, intellectually, and chronologically draining than my service fee could ever hope to cover. So I'm not accepting too many client projects. Secondly, teaching sewing has filled much of the time that I would use for client projects. There are only so many hours in the day. Finally, I get the most pleasure out of sewing for myself. There is no stress; I sew as I please. If I lose interest in a project, I can lay it aside and work on something else. There are no deadlines, no challenges other than the ones I impose on myself. It's the best.

By comparison, this year is my best year so far. It's been wonderful. I've improved in fitting patterns and garments. I've challenged myself to try some different techniques. In September I became a member of Chicago chapter of ASG. Wendy Grossman invited me to do a presentation on wardrobe building (fun). Sarah McFarland (Threads magazine) contacted me regarding my LBD, hounds tooth in the Reader's Closet (published in the March 2012 issue). Still teaching sewing and still a member of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago. This is a phenomenal group of friends, who have become a great source of inspiration and motivation. I've become very good friends with Sandra Young, Rhonda Buss, and Patricia Ferguson just to name a few.   Fashion Show (HCC) weekend I meet some fabulous designers/sewists: Ann (Gorgeous Fabrics), Liana (Sew Intriguing), Kay (Sewing Lawyer), and Nancy (SewWest). Wonderful meet up. Then at the Pattern Review 10th Anniversary - Chicago, there was a sea of designers/sewists that I was able to meet, talk and laugh with over the PR weekend. Fabulous meet up. After meeting, Andrea (Knit-Knac) at Pattern Review, we became good friends talking on the phone at least four times a week. Then, we started having three way calls with Sheila Powell (Sheilaz-CTK). We have the best conversations that last for hours (but it seems like only a few minutes). Late fall Simplicity asked if I would review one of their small machines and be a feature sewist on Facebook Simplicity (fun). It's been a pleasure working with them. This has been a wonderful year of sewing and sewing related activities.

Last but certainly not least, I am happy that you continue to visit my blog and kindly leave comments. That is so appreciated.

So that being all said, here are several of my favorite things sewn in 2011. Heavy pictures:

Coming later this week, some thoughts on upcoming projects and activities.

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

M5860 Jacket Paired with Vogue 7608-A

I finished up M5860 in time to wear for a girls night out during the holiday week. A jean jacket that is figure flatting and stylish. I like everything about it: 

patch pockets with flaps
top stitching
longer length (makes me look slim)
fitting along the sides

Pattern Description: Misses' Unlined Jacket: Fitted, unlined jacket has princess seams, patch pockets with flaps, collar and collar band, long, two-piece sleeves with cuffs and optional jewel stone embellishments.

Pattern Sizing: 8-22; I used 14 with my usual 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? The instructions were great; nothing confusing. Nice pro tips including for resizing the under collar and tip on how to reposition the pocket after making a full bust adjustment.

One of the things I plan to do better in 2012 is to take a serious look at the layout and include comments on that in my review.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? Like above at the start of the review.

Fabric Used: I used a stretch woven twill fabric from Vogue. The stretch in the fabric made it easy to "curve" the pocket and flap into position after making a full bust adjustment. Great fabric to work with for this project. Stretch woven is not recommended, but it is a good choice. Especially with a FBA.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I made my usual adjustments, which are here. Additionally, I top-stitched around the flap and the pockets twice. I used smaller buttons on the sleeves in an effort to use what I ready had on hand.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others? I think I will make at least one more version of this jacket for the summer (white or beige).

Conclusion: This is a great slimming jacket pattern. Try it.

I made matching jeans using Vogue 7608. This time I made view A, flare leg pants. I changed the design on the pockets and exclude the design on the pant leg. Now I have a few pairs of jeans for the weekend.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Laced in Butterick 5672 - The Last Dress Made in 2011

Happy New Year!

I can't believe how quickly time flies.  Over the next few weeks, I will review my last projects made in 2011.  During the holiday break, I tried to spend as much time as possible sewing and setting sewing goals for 2012. .., 2012 that's sounds funny.  This month I will post my favorite garment made during 2011.  It's been a great year.

Anyway, I'm still working off my fall trend list of things to make.  Lace is a favorite of mine.  But how many lace dresses can a lady have?  The last lace dress made, 2008, which I hate to admit is a little snug.  Good thing is, I can whip a new dress up in a few hours.  And this new dress was a easy one to make.

I used Butterick 5672 to create this dress. It's described as close-fitting, lined dress that has left side invisible zipper, left dart and left pleats from drape effect. The pattern is available in sizes 8 through 22. JoAnn only had size FF when I went to buy it. I purchased it anyway cutting it at size 16. I ended up scaling it down a bit as it was too big for me.  I normally start with a 14.

Butterick's photo and drawing match my finished version of this dress. And the instruction were easy to follow.

The reviews on Pattern Review and in blogland encouraged me to try this one out. It suits me. The drapery and pleats help define my waist a bit. The classic look is perfect for me. And it was super easy to make.

I really like how this pattern comes together. It's important to note, I didn't need to insert a side zipper to get into the dress. Could be a combination of the stretch in the fabric and the width of the neck. It's large enough to get into the dress with no problem at all.

This lovely lace knit was purchased, where else, Vogue on Roosevelt Rd. It was about 45" width and only about 2 1/2 left on the bolt. I bought all of it. Fitting all of the pattern pieces as designed was a challenge. I played Tetris for a while before coming to the conclusion to cut the back skirt in two pieces with a center back seam and to shorten the sleeves by a inch or two. It worked out fine.

Butterick recommended moderate stretch knits only. This fabric had a lot of stretch. I want to say about 40 percent. I did follow the recommendation for the lining, tricot. Second note of caution: The drapery/pleats causes the hem to hang slightly uneven. And because the skirt is cut on the bias, I waited 24 hours before hemming.

I made my usual adjustments plus the changes above. The illustrations can be found on Flickr.

I don't think I will sew it again for myself.  ..,many dress patterns in the collection I want to try. But I do recommend it to my fellow sewists. It's a great look.

I really like the styling and fit of this dress. It enabled me to fulfill one of the fall 2011 fashion trends.


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