Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Challenge: Long Distance Fitting

The sewist (me) is in Missouri, the client (my sister) is in Florida, the facilitator (our mom) willing to hold the pins and do the fitting is with the client at the moment, and the other facilitator, just as critical to the process, is the photographer (my brother-in-law).
Last night, while on the phone for an hour, this is what we accomplished

The pattern, Vogue 8369 (as always, click on image to be taken to Vogue Pattern site)

This time, I made the muslins in Muslin - Eureka! You can draw on it, cut it, and not worry about having to have a wearable garment in the end.

The composite shot below shows the progression:
1. the jacket front, with sleeve slid up arm but not sewn in, and although I'd asked for a pic with no pinning done yet, I see there is a pin on the right front princess seam - oh well, we all get the idea.
2. instruction #1, release princess seam above bustline and take in Front only, leaving side front width exactly as is. Much better
3. Princess seam at hemline needs to be released and grain line on front pulled toward center again, to close front at hemline. This may necessitate a wedge of more muslin to be inserted here - the seam allowance may not provide enough fabric to keep everything in order.
4. I've drawn an elipse and highlighted it with the glow to show where the side seam needs to be opened up at the waist level and just above and below - to eliminate those drag lines going on there.
The fit now is very close now.
The back. I drew on the first pic, using the elipse and draw and gave instructions to first let out the princess seams at the waist level about 1/4" on each side - total gives an inch of ease then in the waist,
Then to pin out a 3/4" wedge across the back. Notice how all the drag lines are gone at the underarm area and the fit is much better.

We are now working on the muslin for V2975.
There is a lot of work to be done on this one.
The armscye is too high and tight, the CF's don't meet, the neckline lapel begins to low.
I determined that the first change that needed to be made was releasing the stitching holding the jacket body to the Yokes, and dropping it down a bit. That solved a myriad of problems.

But there are still issues. I don't know if the rest of the fitting will take place tonight, tomorrow, or on the weekend. Depends on the schedules of those in Florida.
The side seam has swung to the back.
It is cumbersome fitting this way. Things I would do intuitively I have to think through and put into language that is comprehensible on the other end. Because I only have snapshots, I'm not seeing the whole picture. Late last night I was telling them how to open up the side seam to bring it back into alignment, then they quit for the night, and my sister sent me another group of pictures, and I had that aha moment - the side seam won't need all that adjusting when the side front is swung back around.
I had them pin the jacket new CF line to my sisters top - that was a mistake. Next time, I'm going to have them pin the new CF's together - then pivot the side front so that the grainline is again vertical - somehow it got all wonky and is all angled to the back now. You probably can't see it in this picture, because it is only drawn on the muslin rather than stitched in. but that side panel needs rotating back into place. This jacket is going to require another muslin once it comes back, to check all the changes that got made, before I cut into the wool.

oh, and a pssst:
I succumbed this AM to the 25% off sale at FabricMart.
Got this
62" Wide
Herringbone Suiting
60% Rayon 40% Silk
Color: Gold with navy and burgundy pinstripes
Care: Dry Clean
and this
60" Wide
Silk and Rayon Blend Twill weave suiting
Soft hand great drape
Color: Natural off white..Medium weight
Care: Dry Clean

If you haven't been following the chatter on the sewing chat boards, you may have missed this:
Fashion is growing up again - Thank Heavens!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Last night we had ravioli. I love ravioli.
This was squash ravioli, recipe from Mario Batali's Molto Italiano

Saturday we had Leek and Potato Soup made from the Jan/Feb issue of Cooking Light, that incorporated a whole butternut squash. More like butternut squash soup with a leek/potato flavor. It was good, but not Leek and Potato Soup.
I think I'm on a bit of a squash kick.

I love haunting the Epicurious site.
and I don't consider myself much of a baker, but watch this video. Doesn't it look fabulous?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Curtains and some progress

Photos loaded last first, so read this bottom right to top left. Sorry.
Daniel and Ashlee's curtains, started and finished Sunday.
Lined Curtains are really something best done with industrial machines. I got rid of the last of my industrial machines last fall, so I had to do this all on my home machine, which is really less than optimal. First, sewing long straight seams is just slow on a home machine. Second, properly done, the lining is inserted under the side hem of the curtain then hemmed in place using a blind hemmer. I improvised by folding and using the blind hem stitch on the home machine - all I can say is "less than ideal". It worked though.

1. 9. stitch casing and heading., 2. 8. fold top casing down 6 inches, then fold under 3 inches, 3. 7. lining ends at fold line at top, 4. 6. pin, 5. 5. slide hemmed lining under curtain panel at side seams, 6. 4. press under double side hems,, 7. 3. hem lining, 8. 2. cut lining, 9. 1.bottom hem
Fabric - a rather heavy dk tan home dec cotton that's been sitting in stash for years. Dont' have any idea why I had this.
Lining - the RocLon "budget black out" lining - this stuff is yucky, but it's very cost effective and it works. The objective is to keep out the headlights from coming into an apartment window. Picked up Sunday AM at Joanns using the 40% off coupon that comes on their mailers. All the 'home dec" fabrics were on 50% off sale, but evidently Joanns doesn't consider drapery lining to be home dec fabric. Still scratching my head on that one.
Needle: size 100 jeans needle by Schmetz
Machine: my Bernina 165.
Time: approx 6 hours start to finish

In other sewing news:
Ive gotten lots of pics back from my sister re the fitting adventure. Very discouraging really. Why, when she was here in August, I didn't just drape a fitting shell, the basic bodice and skirt, on her, then draft all my own patterns, I just don't know. That is what I should have done. Maybe next time we manage to get together I can do that. Anyway, there are significant changes to be made to some of the garments (the blouse in particular), minor changes to some others (the sleeveless shells, both princess seam and the gathered front one) minor changes to one skirt and another skirt is just plain not going to work - the pink one with the yoke, and just a couple of the garments were ok as-is.
On it's way to her now is a box with the muslins for 2 jackets, the pants and rendition #3 of the gathered front shell from Vogue 2898.

Caribbean sewing is going well. Sorry, I asked input on 2 different patterns for the EOS jersey, then used a 3rd. Figured out I didn't have enough fabric for either. Yesterday I finished a dress from the one EOS grey yellow print and a top from the other yellow/grey print. Today I'm working on the paisley buttermilk top and then I'm going to cut a pair of shorts. Gotta LOVE knits for some instant gratification. Pics later this week on the whole adventure.

Q&A time:
Cidell asked how I'm handling seams for the cotton shirt for my sister. Side Seams and shoulder seams are flat fell seams. Sleeve seam and armscye are both serged after stitching normally. This is enough of a blouse that the sleeve must be set in in the round. If it were more of a shirt with a flatter sleeve cap I would also have considered a flat fell seam for the armscye.

NancyK has asked several questions. We are using a camera and email pics for fitting - I've found the camera is an invaluable tool. And Nancy, when I get the garments back and am working with them again I'll go over the princess seam alterations. I prefer a princess seam top for a FBA over regular darted tops - they look cleaner. Although the best way to get one to fit properly is to start from a darted bodice and draft the princess seams.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A (sewing) shift in Priorities

Yesterday was fitting day at my sisters. I rec'd several phone calls about where to place pins and how to mark something, but overall, I'm in the dark about how it went and what works and what she likes and what she's not liking.
What I do know - the gathered front tank top from Vogue 2898 is still in need of adjustments. The black lace version that I sent down is coming back for adjustments.
The armscye on that sucker is HUGE. Ugly huge. OTH, the pattern alteration I made for full bust is excellent in front. The back needs some work. There is a lot of extra fabric in the back. This is the same problem NancyWin (encue creations) is having - too much fabric in the back.
And I've finished the muslins for the jackets, and the pants. They'll get mailed tomorrow.

Meanwhile, today I need to make a curtain for my sons apt in Davenport IA. I promised it to him last week. Then...I'm doing something FUN for me.
Quick easy, instant gratification kind of fun sewing.
Two weeks from yesterday dh and I are getting on a plane heading to St Thomas where we're picking up a boat and we're going sailing. We have one night in Charlotte Amalie, where I'll def want a sundress, then I'm as comfortable in sundresses visiting islands as anything else.

I feel like yellow. Sunny, Happy Yellow
so I went stash diving this morning.

The stripe from Gorgeous Fabrics will be a top. The grey print jersey that Mardel just made a top out of is going to be a dress, the other, a top - both from EmmaOneSock. I had thought to use them together in the same dress, but the yellows are very very different.
Paisley turquoise and yellow onionskin from EOS for a top, and the Rayon Jersey from Lucy's Fabrics for a dress.
Embroidered, embellished cotton batiste from EOS last year is now avail at Fabric Mart. I'm thinking the dress from Vogue 2966
2 pieces of linen from deep in the stash, origin not remembered. The Yellow checked linen will probably end up as some sort of jacket/top to throw over the sundresses.

and another piece of yellow linen that will be shorts.

Right now I'm debating between the new Simplicity pattern from the Threads collection,
and the old standby that I love, the Maggie London dress that I did in green and wore to death last summer. (top pic on my PR widget on the sidebar right now) What I like about the Maggie London is, it defines a waist that I'm rapidly losing. But I like the sleeveless version of the Simplicity also. I need to make a decision while I'm working on the curtain.
Input welcome.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Snoop Shopping

From the pages of Style.comI love this - the silhouette, the white, the embellishment....
but tell me you don't see the influence of the 80's.

internet snoop shopping yielded this today:
description: Silver Square Neck Shell
Style # SC407-156
Colors #12 Metallic Silver
Sizes 0-14
Price $182
no info on fiber content or fabric.

Is this not exactly - not reminiscent of, but exactly, this top:
View A, which I made last April?

I love the top, and am considering making another - now I think I will.

So, have the SaraCampbell designers been snoop shopping old Vogue patterns? Or, who's to say that SaraCampbell et al didn't come up with this design on their own? This is why I think that the whole copyright issue for clothing manufacture is problematic. There isn't much new under the sun in terms of how to wrap a body in fabric.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

SWAP storyboard phase I

Ok, most, not all, but most of what needed to get into the post, got there.
I have more muslins to do yet. I also just found out that my mother is spending some weeknight evenings at my sisters, so,...I'm taking more time than I've been given.
Today I just woke up dragging. It was all I could do to get one muslin done properly.

Anyway, while feeling tired, I dinked around and created a storyboard.
Denise Wardrobe Shadowside
This could be the Kiss of Death. Last year, I spent WAYYYY too much time on storyboarding, then ended up changing too much, and not really editing enough. This year I'd like to spend more time with actual fabric and sewing and edit the heck out of this collection, than on the computer creating pretty storyboards.
That said...after sending D some fitting garments, I *Think* I have a handle on what fabric is going to become which garment.
Note that all could change in a heartbeat, when she tries on something and says WOW, and it didn't make the plan, and tries on something else that did, and says "um, yuck"
It could happen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

In the post on the way to Florida

Vogue 2898, the basis for the Wardrobe pattern for SWAP, made up in a black poly lace and lined with cream colored georgette for the bias top and cream colored tricot knit for the skirt.
This is not part of the SWAP collection but rather extra to it.
Nice way to dress up the pattern.
Changes I made:
I straightened the vertical seam lines a bit between the waist and hip and made it an elastic waist skirt, since it will have a top and possibly a belt over the waistband. Added a FBA to the top. The top calls for a full length zipper, I used a 9" and even that is probably totally unnecessary.
V2898 lining detaildetail of where lining is french tacked to skirt. 16 tacks in all, one at each curve where the godet starts and one at each seamline at hem

cotton shirt

Above: Cotton shirt without collar and cuffs, put together for fitting. McCalls pattern.

Below: Butterick top and Vogue 2898 skirt, ready for fitting and marking of hems.
Changes: Added a CF seam to top in order to insert bias piping to match skirt.
Skirt: shortened to knee length to be appropriate for office wear.

V2975 top and skirt in pink, basted side seams, ready for fitting.

V2975 top in pink
Answer to Vicki, this top is this Vogue Pattern, and what you're seeing is the topstitched top of the pleat, folding over on the hanger.

plus another skirt which has nothing to do with SWAP sewing, and the dress and top made last week.

In tomorrows Mail, in one of the post office's flat rate Priority Mail boxes, The white jacket basted together (Vogue 2898) and the muslins for fitting the other jackets, and hopefully, if I don't sleep at all tonight, a muslin for the pants too.
Sorry D and mom, but I want you to know, even if it is a bit of an inconvenience for you, getting it in pieces, I am working as fast and as diligently as I can.

Monday, January 21, 2008

SWAP muslins and fitting garments

Tomorrow I am heading to the post office, with 2, maybe even 3 flat rate boxes, full of fitting garments. The above top I've made for my sister 3 times already. Each fit differently, due to fabrication, and whether or not they were lined or finished with binding.
This one is made from a rayon slubby crepe, and I'm binding the edges rather than lining it, however I've also inserted a contrast piping in each of the seams, which I think will draw it in a bit. I also want to make sure that the hem is even before I hem it up. I've already taken out the lower 1" of each seam and drawn the piping back in, to facilitate hemming. If I have to move one of those - I want to do it now, not after I've serged the bottom and hemmed it.

When D was here in August, I tried to cut corners by making a "wearable muslin".

As I think I've already noted, this was a serious mistake. I put so much excess time into trying to make that jacket work. Several of you noted that you didn't see anything wrong with it. So I drew on the pic, and inserted a pic of it on my sister, after she got it.
You can see how the grain is skewed way off on the side front, and how I was still unable to make it fit properly. Note the bubble just above the bustline.
Meanwhile, I'm finding that good pictures are an awesome fitting tool.
My sisters husband has exhibited a facility for taking exceedingly detailed pics of exactly what I need to see.
From the latest pics I realized that I needed to add just a smidge in the circumference on the straight skirt, and I needed to add on the bicep on this jacket.
As also previously noted, while D was here, I ended up almost completely redrafting the pattern, then making a new muslin anyway.

When I make a muslin, I trace every line onto the muslin for all markings, then stitch those in contrast thread that I'll need to be able to see on right side and wrong side. I cut with 1" seam allowances.
Below is the muslin for Vogue 8146
Boy, am I ever glad I muslined that one.
What else I like about working in muslin:
If it needs a wedge inserted in the middle, I just chop into the muslin, then add a slice.
This is the pattern that MaryBeth of The Stitchery had so many problems with last year. She ended up saving the garment by inserting gussets. This fit was so horrible on my sister that I'm certain I wouldn't have been able to save it, if I had just cut in the fashion fabric.
That 'shield that you see on the upper chest isn't a separate shield, it's the piece of fabric I inserted when I realized that even with the 1" seam allowances I wasn't going to be able to make it.

Once I get the muslin to where It looks to me like I can move on to the fashion fabric, I cut it apart, on the seam lines, and then use the muslin as the pattern piece. I laying it out, Add seam allowance when cutting, then thread trace the stitching lines.

This one looks so bad that I will make another muslin from this one, before moving on to fashion fabric.
Part of that is, I'm still slightly hesitant that it will be an attractive style. It'll be easier to tell when it doesn't look like patchwork.

coming up tomorrow - maybe, if I have the energy to take all the pics before packing,
pics of prelim fitting garments.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Sewing....all day, every day

UFO update:
So far in 2008, I've finished 8 projects that were languishing, and am very close on many others.
I've also started and finished a dress and a top for my sister, and started and will finish today another top and a skirt. None of these things go together. I'll do a composite wrap up at the end of January on all the UFO's.
The dress was a whim and a stash busting project. I needed to work on something new. Something totally unrelated to anything else. And I wanted to work through some of the FBA alterations on other garments.
The two tops are both versions of the same pattern, the wardrobe pattern Vogue 2898 for the SWAP contest.
The pattern is drafted for a woven fabric, on the bias. I want to do 2 things, first, I want to convert it for use with knits, and I need to do an FBA.
For this version, I added all that I needed to into the front gathers, and then changed the grainline, and made it out of a knit. I'm fairly certain it will fit, however, that is a lot of gathering in the center.
V2898 shell on biasThe next one, I removed some of the fullness at the CF and created a horizontal dart. Then, using a woven lace I cut it out on the bias, and lined it with a bias cut georgette. It's hanging right now, waiting for the bias to stretch to it's max so that I can safely hem it. I like this version better in that the gathers at CF are less full. I'm also fairly certain this one will fit.
Edit, for Lynne, who asked about the FBA. For verbage and directions, go to my flickr page here

What Happened Yesterday
Instead of sewing, I was dinking around on the computer. And, I decided to move the picture folder with my sisters garments out of a larger folder, and give it it's own space. Somehow, while moving it, I lost it. It has since been recovered, but for hours, I thought it was gone.
In the meantime - I'm thinking the loss of the file was a gift.
I got off the computer, and went back down to my sewing room and pulled out all the fabrics in my sisters pile (which at this point way exceeds the SWAP confines). And I started playing with all the possible combinations. and at the most critical time, when I was staring at the puzzle on my worktable, my sister called. the conversation went something like this:
Her: you sound depressed
Me: I am, I'm looking at this, and it just feels forced. The Anglo wool crepe is the cornerstone of this whole wardrobe, but the color is just that smidge off, and I can't get 11 garments that All go with that particular color of fuschia, while everything goes with the plaid.
fuschia wool
Her: weellll, maybe we could do that suit in white then, like the picture. (with hope in her voice)
Me: (Big Sigh) I don't Have 5 yds of white wool crepe, or 5 yds of white anything that is suitable, and I'm not going out and buying it. Do you want to spend another $120?
Her: oh.

Then she had to hang up to sign some paper at the daycare, as she was calling me between leaving the office and picking up the kids. "I'll call you later".
"Later", when you have 5 kids who're all going in different directions in the evening, and a husband expects dinner on the table, always means "tomorrow while I'm at work and can at least breathe".
So I'll talk to her today.

Meanwhile, frustrated, I took the fuschia wool off the table (it is a tropical weight wool crepe, and is gorgeous stuff.) And I started pulling at bolts on my stash shelving unit. Many of you have seen the pics of my sewing room. It's a little like riffling down through one of the aisles in a stacked up fabric store. I know there is stuff underneath that I just can't see.
And I found it. Hiding underneath some embroidered cotton batiste that I got from EmmaOneSock last year.

I have a gorgeous gorgeous piece of off-white corded matelasse that is also a rose damask pattern. It's beautiful. I cut the jacket out right then, before I could change my mind. She will love it. Then I did some more rifling in stash. I have 2 pieces of a St John knit, in cream. This jacket fabric is just a tad whiter than the StJohn cream. Now I'm rifling through lining stash.
If I line the Jacket with the champagne silk lining that I have in stash, and back the StJohn knit with white, the colors become compatible.
She's getting her Cream white suit after all, and all of a sudden all the rest of the pieces are falling into the puzzle like dominoes.
I then cut out a dress, a skirt, another shell, and the bias contrast piping for the skirt and shell.

She'll still get her fuschia suit, and it will go with some of the SWAP pieces, but not all.

I'll revise my storyboard to reflect the change, but first I need to have at least 11 garments cut and basted together to go into the mail Tuesday AM.
It's so hard to photograph a white piece of fabric when the light isn't good yet. But D, if you click on this, you'll get as much detail as there is in this pic.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

so much inspiration/so little time

Idea/ project # 210aka: no sleep for me

I start getting a little sewing done, and the ideas start flowing. The stash is all in front of me as I work, the patterns are stacked up.
And face it, I've been doing some work that lets the mind wander. Yesterday I finally finally sent off a box to D, with 16 completed projects in it - and I'm sending dsd L back to school tomorrow with a new dress and yet another pair of pjs.
Time to sew for ME...
Yes, the blue you saw yesterday is all for ME!

So, I really want to make the floral jacket I posted about Jan 3, this Spring.

And..I really want to make a blue capsule - but not a SWAP.
I posted that I'd been racking my brain for months on what to do with that blue plaid. It's been on my to-make list for this winter since last summer. And so I have been giving it thought.
So yesterday I got into the archives of the runway shows at
Looking to see what the designers were showing in plaids last fall. They were showing plaids. Alas, I saw a lot of plaid. Most of it nothing I would really wear. As Tim Gunn would say "it's a lot of Look!"
Then, Eureka! Chanel is sporting this:Wool plaid as lining, Wool plaid as trim.
I'm not enamoured of this outfit - really Not. But the concept.
oh my.


Go teach my knitting class that started yesterday - and OH My it went well. I'm really pleased that everyone enjoyed it so much and left bubbling about what they're doing...I digress.

Get stuck in traffic on the way home - accidents everywhere - did you know they CLOSED the expressway I64 that connects West County with the City of St Louis? For at least 2 years? Crazy I tell you, just Crazy. It closed last week and they're knocking down all the bridges and overpasses right now. It's going to take them 2 yrs +/- to rebuild it all. again, I digress...

percolate more ideas: Burda WOF introduced a capelet/jacket garment in their August issue. I have that issue - I'm sure I do. I could use the blue tafetta (came from FFC, labelled as silk but I gotta tell you, I really don't think so - so I can use it for outerwear). Anyway, I could use the blue tafetta for the body of the cape and do the contrast lining with the plaid. Oh Yeah!
So I go looking at reviews today for the Burda Cape - not an original idea - Tany lined hers last Sept with plaid, and in fact they show it that way in the magazine as View 2 - I don't care, not an original idea, and I'm late to the party - but I'm inspired.
So now I can make up this item along with a pair of pants from the silk/wool blend, 2 blouses from the blouse weights, and a dress from the crepe and have a capsule to take with me next time I get to Chicago. In April.
oh but wait, I already have on the agenda, to make up for Chicago,something, anything, out of this Anna Sui fabric I bought last spring.
Ideas are percolating for that one too. Runway photo from Anna Sui runway show
And then there's SWAP
Acronym for Sewing With A Plan
My sisters SWAP is well under way. It's Fuschia, and black and pink.
based on a wardrobe pattern and this fabricAnd while I'm working on finishing up projects that are in my UFO piles, which is what I've been doing - and finishing up stuff to send out, I've been percolating more on an idea I had several months ago. After D's SWAP plans were final and the Waiting for the start date began. Dangerous time, that.
You may recall that a couple of months ago Toya had a little contest and the prize was Tim Gunns' book on Style. I was thrilled to rec'v it, and mentioned at the time, I had an idea for it and you'd be seeing more of it.
Well, folks, I'm going public with this idea now, although I may or may not be able to find the time to carry it all off.
how about:
Tim Gunn's Top Ten Essentials Meet SWAP
And as the cornerstone piece of this wardrobe for me would be a trenchcoat made from this incredible piece of YSL fabric I picked up at Britex in July '05.