Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paying it forward and moving on again.

My niece Juli came over last Saturday and we spent the afternoon working out her pattern. The draft worked very well and then we pushed forward with copying off the draft, adding the fly, pockets, and pocket pieces so she could sew together her first ever custom pair of denim trousers. Here's a picture of the draft:

You can see some of the fabric bins in the closet behind her. Oops. A little messy. :P}] She was thrilled with her draft and couldn't stop giggling. She's really excited to have pants that fit her, not only standing, but sitting also, without pulling or cutting into her body. And I do believe there is another convert to sewing custom clothing here. She came not only with the denim for the trousers, but another piece of cotton twill for pants, a rayon knit, and also a piece of woven with polka dots that she loved. She is doing a "sister's week" in August with all of my nieces (six of them!) and their sisters-in-law (2 more) at the beach, so she wants to have some cute new clothes to show off.
She'll be back on Sunday when we'll start with her first Pamela's perfect tee shirt, and if time will also will be doing a woven shell probably from the free download of the Polly top at By Hand London. I found the pattern from Rhonda's thrifty Thursday post, and think it's really a winner. For younger, svelte figures it will be really cute in the color blocking, and I want to make it up in a solid for me so as not to draw attention to my midsection. I've also sent her the link to the Sorbetto top, so she'll definitely have some options for her shells. We'll also make her a copy of the Margarita top pattern too, because that one IMO is the most versatile of all for knits.
Due to the previously mentioned sickness going around, I spent most of the rest of the weekend in bed. I appear to have a sinus infection going on, but I'm not positive of that. I like to let things go if possible because I think it's better to allow my body to cure itself than introducing drugs that cause other issues, but it may get to the point where I need to do something else. We'll see.
Because of the illness going on here, I missed my second Block of the Month club class. I did go by Monday after my inspection to pick up my instructions and fabric for the next block. This month it's two blocks instead of one. The first is this called "Chinese Coin" but different than I thought...
It appears we'll be using the same fabric for all of the blocks, so for right now picture this is the same colors as the last block I did. The second block is called Five Spot Block, and it looks like this:
Again it will be done in the original reds and whites. I've started the Chinese Coin, and have the first sets of blocks sewn together. I haven't pressed them yet or done the rows, so that may be done later today. We'll see how the day goes.
In other news, I've started on the cream silk jacket. I haven't done a tailored jacket in a while, so while foraging in my sewing room, I came across the Nancy Zieman video entitled Speed Tailoring Blazers. Then I realized I not only had the video, but also the written transcript with pictures of the same name. This is a circa 1980s video, so it is interesting to see the hair styles and big shoulder pads, etc., but there is some great information in it. I'll be using the methods from the video and transcript all the way through and anticipate a quick finish for this particular item. She mentions it is easy to speed tailor a blazer in a weekend. We'll see how that goes! LOL
Since my jacket pattern has been fitted and made more than a few times, there isn't much to tell as far as alterations. There are so many done that I can't even remember them all, but they have been noted in several previous posts. I do know it has narrower shoulders, wider arms, a sway back adjustment, a FBA, and I'm sure a few others I don't remember. (Last one posted 11/23/11)
I did follow the video instructions and made an "interfacing pattern" using waxed paper over the original and a seam gauge set at 1/2" to run along the outside of the pattern to get the interfacing the correct size so it only overlaps the seam allowance by 1/8". The entire front, side front, upper collar, pocket, upper back, and facings have been fused with Pro Tricot Deluxe from Fashion Sewing Supply. I still need to interface the hem lines, and then there will be a second layer of interfacing in several places. I'll keep you in the loop just in case you'd like to do your own speed tailored blazer.
That's all for now, but I'll try to keep up to date with my postings as I go through the blazer process. Hope your sewing is moving forward to!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

It's coming along and I'm passing it forward

Good day to you.

I hope you're getting lovely weather wherever in the world you may be. We are finally getting enough rain to hopefully ease the drought conditions here in Northern California, with a few days of sunshine interspersed so we can actually see spring and renewal in our future. I have daffodils, a few tulips, hyacinths, Asiatic lilies, and some mini iris coming up in the yard, and the roses are starting to sprout lots of leaves.

I haven't got a picture of Dale in his shirt yet, as he's gone down hard with a nasty cold and cough. He's spending the majority of his time sleeping trying to get rid of it. Hopefully soon.

I've been moving forward on my SWAP, but it seems to be taking a different direction. I have the grey tropical wool pants from the story board almost complete doing a few minutes here and a few minutes there. There are currently lying on the ironing board with the hems pressed and pinned. Hopefully tonight those will get done. Then I just have to do the waistband and they're good to go. I am not lining them, but will wear them with a pants slip instead.

Next up is going to be a a jacket in a cream colored silk tweed that I've had in my stash FOREVER! I think this goes back to around the time I quit being an outside sales person in 1996. I will use my TNT jacket pattern for this one that is a dramatically altered Simplicity 4273, now OOP. I'll probably add patch pockets, not the original slanted ones, but regular ones because I just NEED pockets! Like a little boy, I always have stuff in them. :P}}

The lining will be a silk charmeuse I bought on a great sale at Sawyer Brook in January 2012. Their description: Elegant silk charmeuse is printed with crosswise stripes seemingly over a large outline floral motif. Florals range from 7 to 9 inches. Mauve, almond, and gunmetal stripes over coffee and mocha outlines. For me, it's rather muted, but I do like it a lot and think it will be fantastic with the cream silk.

That will be moving into place with a matching grey tee and a pale blue silk broadcloth woven shirt from fabric that has also been in my stash for a very long time. That will together make up another capsule for my SWAP.

Looks like I won't make a full SWAP by the end of April, but I am getting garments done that will work in my wardrobe with lots of other pieces, and I'm using up some of my stash in addition to some of the new lovelies I couldn't resist!

I'm also working with my niece Julianne to make a custom pants draft, using the Don McCunn "How to Make Sewing Patterns" method. I have never had this draft not work if the measurements were correct. We have the first draft complete, and this week I'll be stitching up a muslin so she can try it on Saturday when she comes. At that time, we'll drape in the darts, and hopefully cut out her first ever pair of custom pants. She's doing a denim, of course, so I'll keep you posted.

Saturday is also my next 9 patch class. I'm getting lots of fun things fit into my schedule. I'll take the first block for show and tell, and then get the materials for the next one, which will need to be completed by the second week in April.

Need to get some work stuffed into the cracks around the sewing unfortunately, so I'll keep you posted as things come up.

Have a lovely day, whether it be coming into Spring or going into Autumn wherever you are.

More later!

Friday, February 28, 2014

It's been a long, long, time!

I'm a bit behind in my blogging, aren't I? We've had an interesting year around here so far.

The last post was the day after my birthday, and we were heading out to the U C Botanical Garden at Berkeley, and then out to dinner with daughter and granddaughter with their partners. Although between the freeze and the drought, there wasn't a lot of blooming going on, it was a lovely day to be outdoors and a wonderful walk through the gardens. They have the most amazing medicinal herb garden with each plant having a sign that shows what it is used for in traditional Chinese medicine. Fascinating!

Unfortunately, right after that we were hit with flu and colds and allergies and all of that nastiness. I have been sewing, albeit a tiny bit at a time, but it does progress the projects somewhat.

Just a little late with the photo, but here is the previously blogged denim pants with the shirt that gave its left over fabric for the pockets and Hong Kong finish waistband fabric.
Sorry about the bad hair. I'm trying to grow it out a bit and it's at that in between stage!
Next up was the striped tee. The fabric is a wonderful viscose/elastane knit that feels like silk. It's from my TNT Pamela's Perfect Tee Pattern. Fabric purchased in January of 2012 from Sawyer Brook. Glad to get it complete and in the closet!
Geez, I wish my photographer would tell me when things are wrinkled and need to be straightened!
After this one I got an unusual request. To preface the request, I have to say my hubby has a unique and quirky sense of humor. He'd seen some Dia de Los Muertos cotton shirts in a shop in Sonoma when he was driving by. He'd stopped to check them out and was horrified that a basic cotton shirt, think Hawaiian style, was $95.00. The salesman told him it was worth it because he had a woman in New Mexico that was custom making the shirts for him.
Long story short, he described it to me, we found the fabric on line, and he has a shirt made up. He wanted the shirt to wear for the anniversary of his heart attack and bypass surgery last year! LOL I told you he had a quirky sense of humor!
So now I'm moving forward with my garments interspersed with making 9 patch quilt blocks for my block of the month club. It's a new venture for me, and I'm enjoying it. I made the first one, but missed one key direction. The class instructor said to make the blocks about 1/8" larger than called for. Which I did. What I didn't hear or she didn't say, was to cut them back down to 3" squares once put together, so your block winds up 9" X 9". I did a gorgeous job on my block, but unfortunately, it's about 11" X 11"! I've got to redo that this week for next Saturday's class. But it looks good! Here's the prototype just a little larger than it will be once completed again!
For a non-quilter, I think it's pretty good. I sure hope the next version comes together as good as this one did.
Stay tuned, as my SWAP may take a more polished direction with a few different jackets that are less casual than the Stacie Jean jacket and the Style Arc Marie. Our sewing guild is doing tailored jackets this year, and will all be showing them at our annual fashion show next fall. I really don't do tailored jackets much, but I may go with more professional looking patterns instead of my casual ones.
Next up will be the grey slacks, and following closely a natural colored silk jacket from my TNT collarless jacket pattern. Then a few tops so I can get some "groupings" completed. I'm looking really hard at Chanel style jackets too!
Hope your sewing is going well and you're all staying out of the way of the flu. It's a nasty one!
More later!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Denim Slacks & Mini pocket tutorial

This is my first official entry into the SWAP 2014.

It is a pair of charcoal denim slacks. The fabric is from Gorgeous Fabrics and described as "Premium Designer Stretch Denim, Dark Wash." Hmmm... maybe my charcoal denim slacks aren't really charcoal. Oh, well. They are what they are and definitely are underway so they will be part of the SWAP. Guess I need to spend the big bucks and get the Pantone swatch card. NOT! I'd never spend that kind of money.

Disclaimer... I am not perfect and do a generally good job that passes for good looking pants, but there are ALWAYS little things that aren't perfect. If you see them, good. If not, know they are there.  In general, I am a self-taught sewer and many things I do may not be standard, and certainly aren't couture, but they do get the job done, and I've been making 99% of my own clothing for at least the last 15 years, and most people don't realize my clothing is self-made.

Anyway, these are my slacks. I have posted before that I love to use a quilting cotton for the pockets with a matching Hong Kong finish on my waistband. Since I have been using a self drafted pattern for a very long time, I don't have any sewing instructions so have made them up as I went along, finding tips here and there, and experimenting. I'm going to share the way I install pockets. I'm definitely not an expert, but these work really well for me.

Once you have your darts sewn and pressed, you will sew your pockets. I use a piece of pocketing that is folded along the inner edge as it's just easier for me. These are left over batik fabric from my Hot Patterns Plain and Simple Princess shirt made in August of 2012. I have the pants drafted with what I've been told is called quarter pockets, where the openings are about 2-2 1/2" along the waistband measuring from the side seam, (measurement depends on your size~ roughly one quarter of your front measurement hence the term quarter pockets.) The pocket opening goes down at a diagonal until they reach the side seam. A good way to check the opening size is to measure the width of your hand, laid flat and add a little extra for ease. Then mark that spot on your side seam remembering to measure down from the waistline and not the seam allowance. From your waist mark to the point you determine will be your pocket opening. You should have a couple of inches of pocketing below the place where the pocket connects to the side seam so your stuff won't fall out of your pockets, and I generally curve the seam down so the stuff stays in the bottom. Here's a picture of my pockets cut out.

I cut my pockets initially with a fold on the inside seam, and the outside seam the same as the pants would be if they didn't have pockets. I have a facing for the opening area that extends about an inch past the pocket opening so if they're open, no one can see your fancy pockets. Once the pockets are cut, you'll attach the facing to the wrong side of the pockets along the outside seam line, and again on the inside seam line. I have serged the interior seam before, but have found after a hundred or so washings, it will ravel anyway, so now I stitch at 1/4", then turn under before sewing to the pocketing. And yes, I do generally wear my pants until they wear out or my size changes, whichever comes first. :P}}

Facings pinned to pockets
Once you have your facings attached to the pocketing, trim the upper piece of the folded pocketing and mark one inch plus the width of your seam allowance towards the side seam from the interior facing edge, then trim that off. Attach your cut edge to the front pocket right side of front to wrong side of pocket. Stitch, press, press open first, then trim and turn.

Pocket Attached

Pocket ready to be trimmed and folded to the interior

Press pocket edge flat, using a clapper if you have one. Let sit until it has cooled. Topstitch along the edge.
Topstitching ~ Sorry looks invisible in the picture.

Now you'll fold the pocket along the fold line, matching the cut edge at the top and the side seam, with the facing showing at the pocket edge. Pin in place and baste along the topstitching line.

Pockets basted into place

Once you have the pockets basted in place, you will pin the inside of the pocket bags and stitch them together. Usually I use a small 1.5 mm stitch and the serge the edges below the stitching for extra strength. If you're usually hard on pockets, you could use a 3 thread back and forth stitch if your machine has one or one of the alternate stitches like the mock overlock stitch.
Once your pockets are complete, finish the pants and you're good to go!
I hope this is informative, and if you have questions, please let me know. Have a great sewing day!


Saturday, January 18, 2014


Happy camper, here. I finished my first 6-Pac within the allotted time frame and actually have 6 garments that will go (and some have already been!) into immediate rotation! Two jackets, two tees, a blouse, and a pair of slacks.

The final garment is my tee shown here and finished a few minutes ago.

Sorry for another hanger shot, but I will get some pictures of things on me soon. This one is a pattern you have seen in multiple iterations. It's my Pamela's Perfect Tee, this time with a V neck and 3/4 sleeves. This is my go to pattern for tee shirts as it's the only one I have found with darts, and I believe that voluptuous women NEED darts in their tee shirts so they don't look like a big wall of fabric. Hopefully the geometric print helps too. :P}}

Kind of a stash fabric, as it's been in the house since January of last year. Perhaps bought for last year's SWAP that got set aside for other more pressing issues.

It's a Marcy Tilton fabric called Square One French Knit. Noted as "French viscose/spandex knit." It was on half price sale, so it's a big win!

I did use a full width front and back for cutting the pattern flat because of the print. Only notions used were fusible tricot on the hems. I have learned the hard way with rayon knits that an inch to an inch and a half piece of fusible tricot at the hem line makes all the difference in the world in the way it looks and holds up after laundering.

Neckline was done using a technique I learned from a Stretch and Sew Pattern years ago that they call French Trim. It is Pattern #326, and the pattern is called "City Tees."

Here's How if you're interested: Cut a piece of fabric with the stretch going the length of the fabric, 2" wide (5.1 cm) by 31 inches long. Place a pin 3 inches from the center back on each side.  Place a pin 3 1/2" from one end of the strip. Match the pin on the strip to the pin at one neck edge, sew the strip around the front neckline with a 1/4" seam, (.6 cm) stretching the trim ONLY just enough that it starts to cup a little bit. When you get to the other side of the back neck with the pin, stop. Trim the strip 1/2" past the center back of the shirt. Miter the corner by placing the ends , right sides together diagonally and stitch from corner to corner. Trim and press open. Stitch the balance of the back seam. Press towards the seam, then leaving the seam allowance as is, fold the strip over the neck edge leaving about a 1/4 to 3/8" seam, and stitch in the ditch to complete. Trim close to the stitching.

I did it slightly different this time by having my strip 2 1/2" wide, and sewing it doubled like you would a normal piece of ribbing. Then I did the rest the same way, leaving the inside of my tee with a nice folded edge instead of the raw edge.

This makes a marvelous self binding without lots of hassle. I will admit that not being a quilter, it took me a long time to figure out the mitering and get it right. I can't tell you how many I did backwards before I finally "got" it. But now I do it perfectly almost every time.

Here's a pic of my completed Winter 6 Pac:

Count me as one happy sewer today! Now on to the SWAP. First garment will be the charcoal denim trousers as I want to wear them next weekend!

More later!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

How Do I Love Thee?

Let me count the ways. I initially found this pattern on Pam Erny's blog, and figured if she liked it, it had to be good. I consider her one of the best shirt makers I've ever seen! Here's Pam's initial post: There is such a wealth of information on her site, you could spend days! Scroll down to 12/03/06 and you will see a two part tutorial on how to sew this collar. Blue Mooney also did a tutorial on the collar and references Pam's tutorial on July 11, 2010. Another website with a wealth of information!

To date, I have made four maybe more, of these shirts, and I see many more in my future. I love it so much. I love the collar. Although difficult to do correctly with a 5/8" seam allowance, following the tutorials and being careful, it comes out just lovely. If you trim the seam allowances to 1/4" it makes it much easier.

I love the princess seams! I think on most of us who are voluptuous they offer so many opportunities for fitting that it just makes life so much easier. I also love that these are shoulder princess seams, so with my narrow shoulders, that is such a fitting bonus too! I think Hot Patterns are drafted with a slightly larger cup size than the big 4, so the bust alteration is much easier. I love the shirttail hem. It is a narrow hem, with just a fold up that winds up being slightly less than 3/8" when you start at the facing with a 5/8" seam. In addition I find the narrow hem to be extremely flattering.

This is the pattern:


Image 1
My friend Kathleen commented that she'd looked this up on Pattern Review and all of the comments mentioned that the collar was done differently and referenced Pam's tutorial. If you are a beginner, or not proficient, (note it says Advanced Beginner) I think you could complete the collar using the tutorial and taking your time. Other than that, I find it an easy sew.
I will be making one more of these for my SWAP 2014, but think this one may work as one of my wild cards if needed!
The unveiling:
Sorry it's just a hangar shot for now, but I'll try to get a better picture later in the week if I can. I lightened it a bit so you could see it easier, (which dulls the colors and the teal doesn't show up much) but think overall it will go with almost anything I wear.
Hope you're getting things done too!
Now I'm off to the next tee!
More later!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Two to share and a teaser.

I finally got the button and actually finished the jacket. So that's here:

I like it pretty well, it's warm, and does the job. I have already made some alterations to the pattern that will be completed prior to the next version being sewn. I have been really ogling my garments to see if and where other alterations should be done to make them fit my body the way I like them to fit. As I was scratching my head over this one, I realized I have a jacket pattern that I started several years ago and have done about four versions, each one getting tweaked a little more. The arm/shoulder/sleeve fit on that one is really close to perfect IMO. So out it came, and I redid that area on this jacket pattern. I cut the armscyes in both front and back at the base of the arm so I don't have excess wads of fabric there. I fixed the sleeve so it should be just right for me. And I remembered I have that other jacket that I can just add lapels and a collar to and have a well fitting blazer. So I'm a happy camper right now.

After all the work on the jacket, I did a quick instant gratification tee as a palette cleanser. It is made out of a fabric that I bought sometime last year ( I THINK) and when I saw Bea Jay's tunic realized I had the same fabric and it would fit well with my Winter 6-Pac. So without further ado:

This is my standard TNT Pamela's Perfect Tee pattern. I love it and have made probably 50 tees in various sizes and fabrications. The only problem I have with this is it reminds me of a melting hot fudge sundae and makes me want ice cream! ROFLOL
The teaser is the next top up. I was going to work on my tees for my SWAP, and then realized I had lost my mind and nothing had been washed and dried as yet. So instead, I pulled out my HP Plain and Simple Princess shirt and some fabric I've been wanting to make up since 2011, and got that going while I waited for laundry completion. Now it will be a few days until I get back to my SWAP, but I'm happy I'm using this fabric. Here's a quick peak:
It's a piece of quilting cotton, and judging from the color ways indicated along the edge, looks to me like it will go with almost anything I care to put it with. Hopefully I'll have this to show in just a few days, but it may be the weekend again before I get it completed.
As always, more later!