Monday, September 26, 2016

Notes on a Pattern (Design Element) - Always on Trend: Ruffles and Flounces

This started out being just a simple post: Notes on a Pattern, Vogue 8256, that I received as a gift.  I thought the skirt was something that I would consider making.  It's not difficult, it would just take some time to hem the flounces. The pattern is Sandra Betzina's three tier flounce skirt, copyright 2006. 

While pondering the thought of making the skirt, I decided to do a little research to see what designers were creating for Spring 2017.  That's when the flood gates opened.  I Googled "Ruffle and Flounce".  Thousands of images appeared in the search results.  Right then another thought occurred to me, "There is nothing new under the sun."

Every possible way to include ruffles or/and flounces appeared on screen.  I looked and looked until I couldn't look anymore.  I saved a few to show to you.   Next, I Googled "Vogue Pattern Ruffle and Flounce".  Here again hundreds of images appeared.  Many were pictures of my fellow sewing sistas/bloggers wearing the very own creations.

Needless to say, ruffles and flounces never ever go out of style.  You just need to determine how you want to incorporate them into your garment.  We don't have to be slaves to making anything exactly like the pattern calls for.  Be audacious or subtle as your personality and style dedicates.  Be creative.  Need a little inspiration, look at what the designers are doing.  See if there is something to suits you.

So, my little research project helped me decide to definitely make something with ruffles and/or flounces real soon.   For you viewing pleasure, here are a few designs that I'd like to share with you.

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Transitioning to Fall In Oscar De La Renta Checkered Coat

Transitioning to Fall in Chicago can be a mixture of three seasons on any given day.  We could start with cool, crisp sunny morning.  By mid-day it's hotter than July.  Then early evening, it's cloudy and raining.  We are so lucky.  It's not every day that this happens.  Most days it is one or the other.  ;-)

The good thing is we experience every season, which gives us opportunities to wear many different styles and weights of clothing.  I'm happy to have many coats of all weights and styles.  My new  Oscar De La Renta Checkered coat is my latest addition to my collection.  This fabric is perfect for transitioning from summer to fall.  The combination of the fabric weight and style of the coat is also great for layering.

I grabbed three yards of this coating several months ago and did not have a clue as to what I'd make. As I was writing this post, the thought occurred to me that it may be all gone.  But the good news is; it's still available.  So hurry.  It won't last forever.  Checkered, plaid, and window pane prints are hot  on the runway.

Making the coat..,

I used Butterick 6244.  The coat is described as Semi-fitted unlined coat (wrong side shows) has front extending into collar, flat fell seams, narrow hem and shaped front hemline longer than back.  It's available in sizes 8 to 24W.

The drawing and the photo on the envelope did look like my coat, with the exception of the drape of the fabric.  Mine is more fluid.

The skill level is listed as average.  But I think it's really easy.  From cut to finish, it took me about 3 hours to make this coat.  The instructions were typical big four "construction" instructions.   Also, I did not flat-fell all the recommended seams.  I only did the center back of the collar and the seams attaching the collar.  The rest of the raw edges were serged.  This textile is very loosely woven.  So as soon as I finished cutting it, I serged the edges.

I like the style of the coat and the fact that is was unlined.  A quick sew project pleaser with style.  Who could ask for more. No real dislikes about it.  But a word of caution.  There is quite a bit of easing needed along the neckline.  The back collar is about two inches wider than the back neckline.  The good thing about this fabric, it was not difficult to ease it in.  But a tighter weave may require a little more effort.

I didn't do my usual pattern adjustments.  Surprise, surprise.  I used size 16 for the entire coat.  I didn't think it would hurt to have a little more room throughout.  My coat probably does not hang as long in the front as intended though.  I added two inches to the sleeve length and about three inches to the length of the coat.

It so easy to say I would consider making it again.  Because the coat is a quick sew.  But I have at least a hundred coat/jacket patterns to try.  I do recommend it to others. 

My new coat will definitely get lots of wear this fall season.  I can easily dress it up or down.  The coat can be worn with jeans and boots.  It's perfect for layering on those cooler days.  Or you can wear it over a sleek mini dress and stilettos.  Picture day I'm wearing it with McCall's 6752 knit top and McCall's 5818 pants.

Happy Sewing!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Unity Conference Dress 2016 - Simplicity 1156

Photo taken day after event, Monday afternoon.

For the past several years, almost every Unity Conference I've made a new cream or white dress.  This year is no different.  But I must say I thought, "By now I should have enough white/cream to wear for this annual event."  I also thought, "I wish the principle color was a color instead of white/cream."   Oh well, it's been this way since I could remember.  So I concluded that next year I will repeat something already in my closet and make myself a vibrant birthday dress instead.

With that being said, here is my review  for my Unity Conference dress 2016.  The fabric used was a gift to me.   I don't know the fabric content, but I suspect it is a polyester/rayon blend.  It washes beautifully and wears well.  It has a wonderful texture.  There are three layers: top, bottom and a very light filler.  It's not quilted, but it is fused somehow to create what look like stitching from a distance.  Very nice.

For this dress I used Simplicity 1156.  It's an "Amazing Fit" pattern.  It includes separate patterns for B, C, D,and DD cups sizes.  The fabrics recommended are woven, but I used a knit.  It's what I had on hand and I thought it would be easy to make given the fabric had quite a bit on stretch in it.

The dress is described as misses' dress with individual pattern pieces for slim, average and curvy fit and B, C, D, and DD cup sizes.  I used size 14 and average, view A.  The category of pattern promises an "Amazing Fit" because of the multiple pattern pieces for the cup sizes.  It also includes inch side seam allowances to help make fitting easier.  Now this does not mean you can bypass an adjustment like the sway back adjustment.

The seaming of the dress allows you some extra points of adjustment that may not be available in dresses with fewer style lines.  For my dress, the knit fabric made it that much easier.  My choice of sizing was pretty good. for the bust area.  But for the other seams I made adjustments.  Some allowances were greater than an inch.  It worked out fine though.  Once I got the fit, I serged the edges.
Accent color fuchsia. Shown with self-made corsage.

When my dress was finished it did look like the photo on the envelope, with the exception of the length.  I added a few inches.

There was nothing difficult or confusing about the instructions.  Typical.

The reason I picked this pattern was because I wanted something very quick and easy.  This fit the bill.  The style lines gave opportunity to fit and I prayed that the cup sizes would work for me.  And it did.

Taken on Sunday, Worn with self-made corsage.
My dislike are related to the drafting of the pattern:  neckline, the shape of the skirt, and facings (neck and armhole).  I prefer a closer fit about the neck and a slightly tapered skirt.  So I made slight adjustments to both areas.   Facings are a pain.  If you stitch them down all the way around, there is a possibility that the stitching will show through to the right side.  I just stitched in the ditch at the side and shoulder seams.  I also had to make a sway back adjustment.

I probably won't sew this pattern again.  But recommend it to other.

This is a very easy dress to make.  The style lines gives more opportunities to make adjustments as you sew.  The angled side seams are pretty nice too. 

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Alaska, The Beautiful

At last I'm able to post a blog about my vacation to Alaska. ( I've been under the weather since I returned eight days ago.) Most of my life I've dreamed about the days when I'd be able to travel to all the wonderful places of the world.  During my early days at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I used to make the travel arrangements for the Research Services Program Coordinators (late 1980's).  Back in those days we had to pick up the airline tickets at Hobbit Travels.  With each visit to Hobbit Travel I would pick up a different brochure about an exotic place to visit.

On August 24th, eleven of us set out to visit Alaska, the beautiful. We flew to Seattle, Washington.  The very next day, we set sail aboard the Explorer of the Sea (Royal Caribbean).  I was super excited and each time I thought of how grand it was to go to Alaska, my heart was over-joyed.  It felt like Christmas morning.  I also recognize not many people of the world get to vacation very far from home.

In Seattle we lodged at the Mediterranean Inn.  It's a modest hotel with very good accommodations.  I didn't do must sight-seeing or shopping there. 

 But we did eat at a great little mom and pop restaurant called "Mecca Cafe and Bar".  Mmm, Mmm good food at a reasonable price.  Unfortunately, we did not make it to the Pike marketplace.  But there is always next time.

Our first stop in Alaska was Juneau.  From a distance, the mountain sides appeared to be covered with grass, instead of endless rows of evergreens.

We all booked an excursion for Mt Robert Tramway.  The tramway takes you high up the mountain side where you can shop and hike the trail.  I was scared to ride the tramway, just a few cables to hold the car as it ascended way above the evergreen canopy.  Lucky me, we had a singer aboard to help keep me distracted.  It worked for a little while..,

At destination, I breathed a sigh of relief and hoped to see an eagle or some majestic wild life.  No sightings, but I had a good, short hike up the mountain.

Our next port of call was Skagway, Alaska.  We chose to take the White Pass train up the mountain.  For three and half hours, we learned about the railroad, the search for gold, and the lives of the people who came to Alaska in the early 1900's.  I couldn't imagine life back then, harsh weather and harsh living conditions.

Ms. Bunny

My Cousin Gerri

Retired section of the Railroad

For those days at sea it was festive aboard the ship.  There was plenty to eat and drink around the clock.  There were shows, shopping, music, and dancing.

Trina and Me

Enough fun to be had by all.  From the dining areas and from our balcony we saw whales. And there were sea loins swimming near by.

Tracy Arm-Fords
The next stop was to be Tracy Arm-Fords, but the area was unsafe.  So the captain took us to another location so that we could see the glaciers.

We arrived at 6:30 am.  Out on the balcony, I was able to behold the beautiful of this most frigid part of the world.  It was amazing beautiful.  How could it be.  It was like a movie. 

Our final stop, before heading back to Seattle, was Victoria, Canada.  Lovely, clean, and quite the touristy location.  We took a tour bus through the town, did some shopping, and eat at the "Dog Gone It" hot dog restaurant at Government and Humboldt.

The weather forecast was between 52 and 76 degrees.  We were lucky to have a sunny day at Juneau.  There was rain and overcast in Skagway and Victoria.  This time of year, a coat was certainly needed.  Layering was the best approach to prepare for the Alaskan weather conditions.

I'm very pleased with my little tour of Alaska and hope I get to visit the other side someday. 

Cousin Train and Me Again
 God is good!


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