Tuesday, December 16, 2008


Just a quick note to let you know everything is good here, that the lack of activity on this blog, on Pattern Review, on Stitchers Guild and on the comment sections of your blogs is due to the fact that I've been unplugged for almost 2 weeks.
Great things are being accomplished during my offline time, and I'll be back with a (partial) report after the dawn of 2009.

Have a Very Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah,
Joyeux Noel,
Happy Holiday,
Happy New Year.

with gratitude for your friendship,

Monday, November 24, 2008

Creating Mini-Capsules: Teal/Burgundy

The jacket, in the same state it was in when I abandoned it to work on the clothes for the wedding. Goal is to have it finished by Dec 1.
The lining for the jacket is a Vietnamese silk that has the teal color in it that is in the rest of this grouping.

the start of the front of Interweave Knits "Dickinson" pullover. Yarn, Debbie Bliss alpaca/silk
Goal to have this finished: Dec 1. I can do it. It's a fast knit and I've got car time coming up.

The fabric for the pants, showing another yarn that I have to go with the fabric. This is vintage stash. I'm thinking this gorgeous piece of wool dates to the 1980's. The yarn does too. I remember buying it at Fran Kirklands in Grosse Pointe to go with this piece of fabric, and I left Grosse Pointe in 1990, and Fran's had already been closed for a year or two.
Some time back I started a sweater that had a diagonal ribbing that was sprinkled with popcorns. I must have been out of my mind.
I've kept it all these years just to remind myself not to be that crazy. The yarn is a mohair blend and in reality is quite itchy, so I don't know what I'll do with it. Maybe I should just make a scarf to wear with this with the jacket.
The pants, Burda 7718, fully lined with an acetate twill that I picked up at Van Fabrics in Boston a couple of years ago.

in need of buttons and buttonholes on contour waisband and buttons for tabs; and hems. Estimated finish date - tomorrow.
It's so hard to photograph the plaid, but it has gold/burgundy and a lighter teal in there, and goes with a lot of fabrics. It's just perfect for the jacket.

The fit on the pants, I'm happy! Will get my handy cameraman to take pics Dec 2 or 3 when all this is done and I can put it on.

In addition, I have a piece of silk left over from the MOG project that will be fabulous for a blouse. And I have a piece of wool gab in raisin that will be another pair of pants. And several knits that would work for tops.
I plan to have at least one top/blouse made up for this group. Goal date: Dec 15.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Not lost, and I haven't fallen in,

My sewing mojo is slightly intact, however my blogging mojo has just deserted me for a bit.

Anyway, I was just about to write out this on Pattern Review for Sondra, who lives across the state from me, when I thought that instead I could put it here. This way at least I'll know where to find it when someone asks again.
So, I bring you a boring tutorial, and not much else in the way of blog content.

Changing an armhole princess seam to a shoulder princess seam.

The Front:
Before starting, cut all seam allowances away from your pattern. You need to match seamlines, not seam allowance lines. You'll need to remember to add your seam allowances back on after finishing your refashioning.

Choose a point on the shoulder that you want your princess seam to terminate. This may be the center of the shoulder, it may be as close to the armscye as 1" away. It should be at a place where the vertical seams will be pleasing on both the front and the back.

Draw a line from the bust point to the shoulder, shown here in red.
Cut along that line, and rotate it to the side front.
I was working here with scaled up drawings from a layout, you'll notice that the armscye doesn't quite match up. In reality, the same treatment that is shown below for the back piece will probably be necessary for the front. Read on.

The Back
Mark the same place on the shoulder as the front- it is important that the princess seams line up.
This is Sondra's back pattern, that she's trying to convert to a shoulder princess seam.
Notice that the way she's got these put together to photograph that the underarm seamlines line up, but the notches along the sidefront seam do not.
This is what I wrote to Sondra earlier:
Shaping with Princess seam is created by easing one longer seam into the shorter one.
On the front, where you're used to seeing that side front curve away drastically from the CF piece, the side front seamline is actually longer, and it is a combination of stitching the inside curve to the outside curve, and easing in the extra fabric along the outside curve, that gives you the room you need for the rounder parts underneath.

On the back, you can easily see by the fact that the notches aren't matching up here, that your side back between the notch and the underarm is longer than the CB piece.
That length does need to be there to allow for the ease - it's not a 1x1 correspondence or else you'd just be able to take a flat piece of fabric and draw curved lines on them, cut them apart, then sew back together. There isn't much curve to the back due to body shaping, but some ease is still desirable for shaping over the shoulderblades.
So, what you're going to have to do is cut the back apart in a way to transfer the length to the vertical seam.

1. Draw your new princess line.

2. Cut apart the back along the new seamline. Make sure that the notch mark is still clearly visible on the Center back section.

3. Match the notches of the piece you cut away and the side front, and tape together.
Draw a line from the side back either where the new section starts to curve away from original side back, or at a point just below the shoulder blade if the curve isn't evident.

4. Cut along that line and move the top of the new side back section up so that your armscye seamlines match.
(Sondra's armscye has a v weird shape here, almost as if that seam allowance hadn't been cut off. In reality that line should be a smooth curve. Sondra, did you not cut off the seam allowances on both the side back seams and the armscye?)

Meanwhile I'm back in the sewing room when I'm not working. Hopefully soon I'll have a load of garments to show off.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Moving on...

I will get to the review of making the MOG dress, the coat (that didn't get worn because it was raining, and rain doesn't play well with silk velvet) and the brides jacket.
And I'll get back with commentary and hopefully pics of the MOB suit I'm making now.

But, moving forward, the question has been asked, am I going to sew for SWAP this year.

I don't know. I seriously need clothes that both fit me now and are suitable for work. I'm working in a pretty high end interior design shop, selling the window treatment fabrics and workroom services. There are a couple of ASID designers working there, as well as several of us more lowly types. Very chic shop, chic clientele, high end stuff...and looking "designer" is the name of the dressing game there.
The clothes that I own that fit that description are all too small for me at the moment, so the dictate Sew for the body you have Now is a great rule.

However, I'm struggling with the separates issue, and the 11 garments. I really want/need more dresses in my closet. SWAP rules this year don't allow for dresses, unless they can be worn over a shirt or pants. I'm too old to be wearing dresses over jeans. That is a college coed look, IMO.
Ditto with jumpers.
And, I want to sew with the fabrics that I currently own - sew up the stash!
I have capsules of fabric that will make fabulous mini-wardrobes, but I don't know about 11 coordinated separates without having to add to the stash. Especially since those I do have all have pieces designated for dresses.

So, the answer is, probably not.
Contest sewing is fun. But I need to worry more about what I need to actually get dressed every AM than about meeting a set of rules.

So what about you? Are you sewing SWAP? If not, then why not?

Monday, October 27, 2008

They're married

And I never even put a camera in my hand. So the pics I have are collected from those my dear husband took as well as some my brother took. Hopefully I'll add to the collection in the next few days.
These are a few of my favorites, there are more pictures here on flickr

First up, since I know that most everyone who reads this blog is interested in the sewing and the Dress! the above pic is the composite that I'll use in the review on Pattern Review.

Ashlee and Daniel
Mark and Megan dancing

Daniel and I
Mark, Daniel and I at the church
Mom and her husband Richard

I'm writing this in an internet cafe.
This week I'm staying up in Traverse City to sew (big surprise), I'll be making the suit for my BFF Jacquie to wear as the Mother of the Bride in January.
I'll get back to catching up with blogging and reading blogs when I get home, next week.

Meanwhile, thank you for looking.

Monday, October 20, 2008


OK, I'm off Dancing...

My dress is done except for handstitching the hem. The brides velvet jacket is done, unless I decide to add some beaded embellishment between now and Saturday, I reserve that right.
And my velvet coat....may or may not make it.

As soon as I finish packing the car I'm outa here.

See you in November.

Friday, October 17, 2008

a moment out of time


too dang funny:

Your result for Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz...You Are a Katharine!

You are a Katharine -- "I am happy and open to new things"

Katharines are energetic, lively, and optimistic. They want to contribute to the world.

How to Get Along with Me

  • * Give me companionship, affection, and freedom.

  • * Engage with me in stimulating conversation and laughter.

  • * Appreciate my grand visions and listen to my stories.

  • * Don't try to change my style. Accept me the way I am.

  • * Be responsible for youself. I dislike clingy or needy people.

  • * Don't tell me what to do.

What I Like About Being a Katharine

  • * being optimistic and not letting life's troubles get me down

  • * being spontaneous and free-spirited

  • * being outspoken and outrageous. It's part of the fun.

  • * being generous and trying to make the world a better place

  • * having the guts to take risks and to try exciting adventures

  • * having such varied interests and abilities

What's Hard About Being a Katharine

  • * not having enough time to do all the things I want

  • * not completing things I start

  • * not being able to profit from the benefits that come from specializing; not making a commitment to a career

  • * having a tendency to be ungrounded; getting lost in plans or fantasies

  • * feeling confined when I'm in a one-to-one relationship

Katharines as Children Often

  • * are action oriented and adventuresome

  • * drum up excitement

  • * prefer being with other children to being alone

  • * finesse their way around adults

  • * dream of the freedom they'll have when they grow up

Katharines as Parents

  • * are often enthusiastic and generous

  • * want their children to be exposed to many adventures in life

  • * may be too busy with their own activities to be attentive

Take Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? Or Someone Else? Mad Men-era Female Icon Quiz at HelloQuizzy

Monday, October 06, 2008


It's coming along. Needs shoulder pads and sleeve heads, hemming, topstitching, buttonholes and belts (yes, belts - the sleeves are "belted". I need to either find belt buckles or send my belts to CA to get them made, ASAP). Oh, and the rest of the lining needs to be stitched in. I should be able to wear this while in TC at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, yesterday I graded out the MOG dress pattern (of course it's vintage and so the size isn't right), and got the prelim muslin made.
There were some surprises. The front of the skirt has pleated tucks emanating diagonally from the CF seam. Who knew? The illustration on the pattern envelope focuses on the back, and the front is not really visible, except in a black drawing, and there are no line drawings.

my front pattern piece - sorry, it's hard to photograph tissue tracing paper.

the instruction sheet.

I haven't muslined the skirt. I was playing with the bodice. I'm really considering just putting the front on the fold and eliminating that pleat business. I don't really think I need emphasis on the bit of tummy that I'm wearing industrial strength Spanx to try to control. :)
The bodice CF also has an unnecessary (In my eyes) seam too - which I've eliminated by placing it on the fold. Since the CF is on the straight of grain, both in the skirt and the bodice, what would be the point of a CF seam? Especially in this solid color silk.
I've got to still work a bit on the whole underarm / sleeve portion

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Choice made - Song

I've been needing to turn in my choice for song for the mother/groom dance for the wedding.


You'll Be Blessed, a song I used to dance around the living room with my babies on my hips with, and sing to them.

I'm going to cry, I know it.

Second choice:
have a listen (and look)
I Hope You Dance

Friday, October 03, 2008

Starting the Mother of the Groom ensemble

ok, In addition to trying to finish up this jacket and make the pants that go with it - since I really want to have it to take with me when I go north Oct 18, I'm starting my muslin today for my mother of the groom dress. Why did I leave it so late? Because I planned to lose weight.
Planned is the operative word here. In reality, I'm only down 10 lbs. Not enough, but it's too late now to lament the fact.
I just talked with Cidell, and in the conversation finally counted days til I leave - 15.
Sewing I need to have done before I go:
  1. Ashlee's velvet jacket for over the wedding gown - muslin made, jacket construction will be easy
  2. My dress
  3. My coat/wrap/something
  4. hopefully this burgundy wool Guy Laroche jacket I've been working on
  5. a pair of pants to go with the burgundy jacket.
Did I mention that of those 15 days before I leave, I have to work 6 of them. Looks like I need to burn some midnight oil.
I will be blogging progress. It's the accountability, you know?

The dress decision is made, the fabric acquired, and approval from the bride and MOB obtained.

Evadress Pattern 4057

I'll post pics of my fabrics this weekend. Right now they're tightly wound on tubes.

I'm also planning on making a wrap/coat of some type from some silk velvet I had on hand, that happens to exactly match the silks for my dress.
I just picked up the Folkwear patterns for the cocoon coats, but still also have these two patterns in mind. I need to make a decision before the weekend is over.

Option 1

EvaDress pattern 1965

Option 2.

Decades of Style Parisienne coat

Option 3.
The Poiret Cocoon that's just been re-issued
And, just looking at it now, I'm realizing that the narrow hem of this cocoon coat and the A-line flared hem of the dress are totally incompatible.

Option 4.
The sunrise Cocoon from Folkware -
View B is waist length, so this might still be an option.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

New Vogue Patterns are Up

First, I have been making slow progress on my Jacket V2922
Collar and belt carriers
Below: inside of jacket.

Secondly, I'd like to thank everyone who took the time to respond to my query about classes.
I've submitted a proposal list, and next week will have a discussion with the class coordinator to see what she actually will put in the newsletter and on the schedule.
The demographics are likely very similar to the store where I taught last. EFF is no longer there, and this store is only 10 miles distant from the old EFF location. Who will take these classes? Over 50, empty nesters who've left garment sewing and want to get back into it. And a Very FEW younger women, no children yet, who are catching the crafting craze or have fit issues themselves and want to learn. At EFF, One of my favorite students was a woman in her late 20's who was 6'1" and very fit. She wanted to make clothes that would fit her tall frame.
Another was a private student I had who was a beautifully put-together professional woman who wears a 4x. She wanted to reproduce the Escandar looks she'd been buying at Neimans and Saks.
Based on previous experience then, and the class coordinators statement "we don't have as much call for garment sewing classes anymore" I can safely say that technique classes won't fly. As many times as we tried to offer them at EFF, no one wants to sit down and make a swatch book and learn fine sewing techniques around here. At least not enough to take a class to do it.
Everyone wants to walk out with a project they can wear. The exception to this is fitting. There is a tremendous cry for fitting. I used to add a week to my class and try to accomplish fitting within the context of the project. I'm now going to try it the way I listed, and see if it's more effective. And make the fitting class a prereq to a garment class if fitting is a major concern.
to answer the other questions:
  • all the fabric and materials should be purchased on site from the store hosting the classes
  • I will have samples made up for every class on display prior to class registration time - it's a requirement
  • I'm not going to teach sewing with ultrasuede - I've never used it! And, they have people to teach craft projects, I'm being added on to teach garment sewing.

New Vogue patterns are up!
See the whole offering
It seems it's a fairly subdued offering,
or maybe it's the mood I'm in. I'll probably be
picking this up to make up late this fall, towards December.

This dress reminds me a lot of the
Roland Mouret dresses,
and it's a silhouette I like a lot.
Notice the darts sewn on the right side (public side) of the garment.
Note to self: get back to the gym!

Another body conscious look -
this is a Betzina design.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Help...Input please. Deadline approaches

Oh my, how did it get to be the end of September already?

I'm looking for input.
I'm slated to start as a teacher at an independent fabric store here in January. This place is organized, has a classroom with machines, and right now doesn't have anyone devoted to teaching garment sewing, so most of their classes revolve around quilting and craft projects.

I need to submit a class proposal list, which they will then decide what fits into the schedule and put in the newsletter to try to fill the classes. I can decide my max # students per class, which depending on the subject and the necessity for machines, can be anywhere from 6 - 12.
So, I need to come up with a few class ideas that I think will go.
Oh, this is for the class session beginning in January, ending in May.

So, since I can't teach all the ideas, and I want to choose the ones that are most likely to fill, I'm looking for input.
If you had a nice indy fabric store offering classes which would you be likely to sign up for - keeping in mind that the class price for a class is $85- $100.

Make your Daughter's or Your Own Prom Dress:
One 5 hour Saturday session, then three 2hr evening sessions, beginning in March. Recipient of the dress must be available for measuring/fitting for first hour and last hour of the Saturday, and for session 3 or 4 for final fitting.
You may choose your own formalwear pattern. Learn formalwear techniques such as inserting boning and working with slippery or satiny fabrics.

Sew Project Runway
Learn to decipher Simplicity's new "Project Runway"
pattern line while making a project that is truly Your Own. Choose any dress pattern from the Project Runway collection by Simplicity and we'll go through choosing the elements you want, figuring yardage, layout and construction order so that you end up with your own Personal Creation.

Fitting the Bodice
Two 3 hour sessions devoted to learning flat pattern alterations to fit the bodice. Fitting will be done on a fitting pattern, you'll make a muslin to test the fit, and then we'll talk about how to incorporate your fitting changes into every pattern you make.

Fitting Pants
Two 3 hour sessions devoted to learning flat pattern alteration to fit a pant pattern. Fitting will be done on a basic pant pattern,
you'll make a muslin to test the fit, and then we'll talk about how to incorporate your fitting changes into every pattern you make.

Make Your own Jeans
Using either the Palmer Pletsch pattern (McCalls 5142) or the Sandra Betzina Pattern (Vogue 1034) learn the secrets to constructing "better than store bought" jeans, for a fraction of what the RTW jeans are selling for. We'll be covering inserting a fly front zipper, pocket construction, flat fell seams and perfect topstitching.
6 weeks, evenings
*Note: If fitting is a concern please take the Fitting Pants class as a prerequisite OR call and arrange a private lesson fitting session with the instructor prior to the first class session.

Make this years fashion Must-Have, The Perfect White Shirt
Choose a white (or not white!) woven fabric and make your own White shirt, including perfect collar, sleeve placket, correct button placement and buttonholes.
Threads Collection Simplicity 3684

Which of these, any of these sound to you like classes that you would be interested in taking.
Is there a great need for a garment sewing class that I'm missing?
They have a great staff already teaching all sorts of craft items, including handbags. Sewing for kids and teens are reserved for the summer program, so it's only adult classes in the January-May session.
Thanks for your input.
I need to get them a proposal list Monday.

Thank you's to the first two commenters, Miriam and Toby. Which also brings up the clarification: The woman who organizes the classes teaches the basic beginner class, which is fine by me. They're looking for someone to pick up classes that are intermediate or higher level.
And, this store doesn't carry knits. In fact, They've gone over to more than half their fabric inventory being quilting cottons.
They carry the poly satins, which will be great for prom dresses, a fair to middlin' selection of silks and laces, some poly and rayon suitings, a great selection of ultrasuede, and a nice selection of woven cottons - the Spechler Vogel stuff in particular. There is another store in town that specializes in knits and teaches sewing with knits all year long, and I don't want to encroach on their territory. They do it better than me anyway.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pattern Bingeing

Just to confirm my scattered-ness, as I'm trying to wrap up projects and clean house, in a weak moment, prompted by a message I saw in the comments on Brooke's blog Because I Said Sew, I went on a pattern buying binge. Here's what I got.

The impetus for the whole slippery downhill slide:
Folkwear is re-issuing the Poiret Cocoon Coat. It's not even on their website yet, but I called, AND the patterns just arrived, so I whipped out the trusty Debit CC and bought it, (no pic yet) along with
the Sunburst Cocoon Coat
I plan to make one of them as the coat to wear over my Mother-of the Groom dress next month, where it might be cool enough to warrant some time of cover-up. Weather at the end of October in Traverse City might be fabulous and 60, or it might be sleeting and cold.
Nikki and Annika have made each of these coats and the reviewed the patterns on Pattern Review.

I also picked up the Claire McCardel inspired
Town and Country Dress.
This is a pattern they've been out of for quite some time - well, they just found a box and have a Few for sale. If you love it, I'm happy to enable and say "get it while the getting is good".

And, while at Folkwear, I saw this one,
which may interest someone out there
(insert wink and a grin icon - you know who you are!)
The pattern is #238, "le smoking jacket" for both men and women.

Now I just need to wait for the shipping moratorium on Marfy Patterns and I have 3 of those to order. Either that, or I should just bite the bullet and pay the shipping. These are patterns I Really want, and they're not on the Vogue website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

progress., and an inventory

I spent all day working on this jacket, which is the project I'm working on for the coat-sewalong right now.

fused stay tape at pocket edge

attaching wigan at hemline - stitched to side seams and hand stitched with running stitch along fold line. Still needs to be pressed to fit shape of hem.

pad stitching. Shaping is achieved by stitching the lines while holding the lapel curved over the hand, and taking small "bites" of a stitch that doesn't go all the way through the fashion fabric. As each row is stitched, the next line is moved to roll over the top of the hand underneath.

I've got the body put together, have started putting together the lining, have assembled the sleeves, and have started assembling the asides - such as the epaulettes, the belt carriers, etc.

To see a 12 minute video of the technique for these hand stitches involved in tailoring see this YouTube video from Otis college on Tailoring techniques. The pad stitching is shown in the last 30 seconds - and I've found if you are in a hurry to get there you can move the play icon forward with your mouse.

Meanwhile, to start an inventory of the UFO's that I hope/intend to finish this fall:
I have 2 coats and 4 jackets under construction - oops, just remembered another jacket.

Begun in January 07 for the RTW knockoff challenge on PR - then ran out of time...and set it aside. I'd love to pull it out and finish it to wear this fall.

A coat I started, and neglected to underline. After basting together the outer shell and realizing it needed to come apart and be underlined, I set it aside... The big portrait collar is of velvet.

A coat I cut and started in v late winter '05. It gets warm here so much earlier than I'd been accustomed to, and I set it aside, then buried it in a drawer...and forgot about it.

Cut this jacket out 3 weeks ago. I need some clothes to wear to work. ASAP
This is a cotton with a navy print - and it's not going to be lined.

Started back in '06 when teaching a class in the french collarless jacket. Pieces are cut, fused, some assembly done.