Wednesday, April 27, 2011

JAM #4 in Progress...a Stitch and Flip Version of S 3884

A year this month Shannon Gifford, the wonderful sewing teacher I met through Patternreview, passed away far, far too soon in her life.  I'm using her technique of stitch and flip lining to make my 4th Jacket a Month this year.  I am using a new TNT pattern, Simplicity 3884, this time with a lightweight pink, fuschia, tangerine and gold tweed cotton/silk blend from Fabric Mart.

 Shannon wrote about this technique Threads 111 issue: Line and Underline in One Step article  so I'm not sharing any state secrets with my pictures:

One of the interesting things about this method is that you cut an exact copy of the garment body pieces out of fashion fabric and out of the separate set of lining pieces.   You don't cut a lining for the front pattern piece if you have a facing for the pattern, which I do for this jacket.
I decided to interface all of the jacket pieces with lightweight knit interfacing, also from Fabric Mart.  I used Fusi Knit on the front and neck facing and that may be  a little too much interfacing happening....we'll see how the final jacket presses.

This technique has you sew a stack of pieces, two fashion fabrics, right sides together as well as the two lining pieces.  Press the seam, trim it to 1/8-1/4" then topstitch from the fashion fabric side nd stitch the lining into place at the same time.  By doing that top stitching with a thick but trimmed seam, there's a sort of seam structure built into the garment.  But it's also why you have to use a TNT fitted pattern for this technique since alterations are not easy to accomplish.  It's not just for jackets.  I think it would be wonderful to make a pencil skirt this way.
Inside seam of my center back
Outside topstitched seam
Two piece sleeve before turning
Only one seam of a two seam sleeve can be topstitched so I chose the upper arm raglan seam for that treatment.

This is about as far as I've gotten this week.  Our new air conditioning unit from last August gave out and a new compressor is getting installed tomorrow.   So it's terribly hot in my sewing space after using my Singer press to fuse interfacing and then pressing this jacket as I sew.  Sort of my own luxury sweatshop here in SW Florida.

In the meantime, I hope more of you look longingly at those vintage Vogue patterns I'm giving away next week.  They'll be leaving home one way or another;-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vintage Vogue Pattern Giveaway

Gentle readers, you make me smile.  Loved your comments and thoughts about your pattern collections and mine.  Mary, you asked a good question that I can't answer!  How many patterns do I have?  I don't know.  I must be afraid to count them.  But I think that is a good project ahead of me.  When faced with the large number I'll be less likely to add a new pattern just because there's a great PR review of that garment.  Susan, I definitely like your idea of just giving myself a storage limit and living within that constraint.  I'm with you, Audrey, on keeping some patterns just because they have some great detail that I'd like to add or learn how to sew.  But Texan I also relate to too much stuff in general.  And I'm not even going to discuss fabric yet...

So thank you again for your remarks.  What I've enjoyed about reading blogs and now starting to blog is sharing a love of sewing with others but also seeing how diverse we are in what thrills each one of us.  Our wardrobe needs are different, our styles are unique and special, even our access to patterns is certainly varied.  Mary Nanna and Janine, you made me wonder if I would have this problem if those darn JoAnn's sales weren't so available to me?!

Now it's time for me to take some action.  Since I had one of those milestone birthdays last month, and since there are now 61 followers just as I am entering my 61st year, and since I have vintage patterns from some vintage decades, hey, let's have a giveaway, one for each decade of my life.

Please leave me a comment with the pattern # that you would like to add to your collection.  Giveaway drawing closes by Thursday, May 6, 2011. You can enter for more than one pattern but I'll eliminate your name for the subsequent drawing if you win one to give others a chance.  Postage is on me.  

I haven't inspected these for complete pattern pieces but will give my envelope impressions for each one.

Vogue 2026 Size 14 Bust 36 Hip 38  Finished dress width 54 1/2"  Looks like it has been used at least once.

Vogue 1947  Size 14  Bust 36  Hip 38  Finished width at dress hem  46 1/2"  Looks like it has been sewn at least once.
  Vogue 1401  Size 10  Width at dress hem  50".  1976  Looks like it has been sewn at least one time.
Vogue  2785  Size 18  Bust 40  hip 42  Factory folds.  Dress width at hem is 56".
Vogue  2984  Size 12  Bust 34  Hip 36  Suitable for knits.  Has been sewn at least once.  Width at dress hem is 44".
Vogue  2105  Size 10  Bust 32 1/2"  Hip  34 1/2"  Factory folds.  Skirt hem width is 41 1/2".

Thursday, April 21, 2011

How Many Patterns Would a Seamstress Sew If Seamstress Were Actually Sewing?

I'm Jane and I'm a Pattern Addict
Time for another confession.  I have too many patterns.   The first step to fixing the problem is admitting that you have one, right?   Isn't Dr. Drew supposed to drive up now and offer to get me to a rehab facility?  Would that be a trip to Etsy or Ebay or Patternreview or Pattern Rescue so I can give up my drug?   Or should I be looking for a Hoarders interventionist to guide me through the process of deciding which ones I'm willing to donate or sell?  I'm just willing to admit that it's gotten out of hand and it's annoying me, not inspiring me.

What brought about this revelation?  Three things have affected me this week:
1.  I've been doing a lot of cleaning and sewing room reorganizing.  But no actual sewing.  That makes me a little cranky and feeling unfilled.

2.  That reorganization forces me to really look at how much time I spend curating my stuff.  Let's face it, that's what I'm doing.  Categorizing, maintaining, dusting, filing.  In the process I was deciding about the next JAM projects.  But when I look at many of those patterns, they simply do not reflect me and what I actually wear.  Huh, those oversized, artsy jackets with dropped shoulders and no darts.  Nice illustrations and great on someone else but just not my style.  Or too, too many similar princess seamed jacket wardrobe patterns that look alike when they're next to each other.

3.  I've also been pet sitting for neighbors over the last nine days and turned on Oprah when I visited their home yesterday afternoon.   I watched the first half of the show with Tom Shadyac, the Hollywood producer who has dramatically downsized his life in his search for greater meaning and purpose.  Powerful show and I'm eager to see his documentary, I Am.   It reminded me of the wonderful book, What Happy People Know by Don Baker.  The point was that after a certain amount of financial security, additional things don't bring extra gratification.  That's how I'm feeling about my pattern collection right now.  It's weighing me down, not inspiring and challenging me.

So, how do you feel about your pattern collection?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

McCalls 6201, a New TNT Pattern

McCall's 6201
I'm quite happy with how this simple sheath dress has turned out this week.  McCall's 6201 McCall's 6201 is a simple sheath dress in their Made for You line of patterns.   These are the patterns which have alternative front pattern pieces for A, B, C and D bust cup sizing.
A darted sheath dress has been on my mind for several years now.  I was wowed by Annette's dress in the Patternreview 2009 Little Black Dress contest Little Black Dress winners and always love reading Carolyn's blog with her beautifully fashionable dress wardrobe Carolyn, the sewing fanatic.  I made a dress in October that I was pleased with but wanted something with even simpler lines and this McCall's is just what I had in mind.

I did my fitting muslin last week and used this fabric for my alterations.  It's a size 14 at the shoulders and 16 by the high hip area.  I did make separate right and left pattern pieces but since this is one front piece and two back pieces I didn't mind that too much.  I'm still not totally pleased with the large side darts on the D cup pattern and will refine them a little as I sew more of these dresses this summer.  I'm relatively narrow shouldered and narrow in the front so that dart doesn' have a lot of room before it peaks, if you know what I mean.  It would be better for fitting purposes changing this to full length shoulder princess seams (which I will do eventually) but some prints, like this one, need an uninterrupted pattern piece.  Since I have a few of these planned specifically to wear with some of these cardigan sweaters, the bust dart is less crucial right now.  Other alterations: reduced the width of the front and back mid section darts, added to the front armhole area to cover some that bulgy stuff peaking outward on a sleeveless dress, lowered the right shoulder and underarm area for that right side body dip and added about 1/4 inch to the front and back high hip area on my right side as well with a 3/4 sway back adjustment as well.

Isn't this fabric fun?  It's cotton pique with some lycra from Fabric Mart, of course.  I made one of my many Kwik Sew jeans jackets from it and had lots left over so it's been on the muslin fabric pile for a while now.  I was pleased enough with my alterations to go ahead and turn it into this dress.  To give it a little umph, there's piping on the neckline, with some bias of this very soft tone on tone fabric, I think a rayon, cotton, silk blend also from my beloved FM.   I had already installed an invisible zipper or else I would have lined this dress.  Instead, I did a bias binding on the armholes with the same fabric.

So why is there brown paper on our much photographed hallway?  The master bathroom project is still underway....delayed for more than a week for one more sheet of the shower border tile, special order, of course.  No problem, it should be finished soon and it's quite a transformation.  
Ok, tired and it's time to sleep.  We're pet sitting for our neighbors this week but going to their house at least three or four times a day to walk, feed and play with their two year old dog.  Some evenings we take Lucky the rescue dog and they run around for a while but Sam the 12 year old guy is not up to managing two rambunctious dogs in his space.  Instead, Sam got to head downtown for an afternoon concert today and enjoy being the only dog again, briefly.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques: Book Reviews, Sewing and Non-sewing Related

I'm doing an invisible happy dance this morning since my McCalls sheath alterations have turned out quite nicely and muslin 2 is worthy of being completed as an actual dress.  So no clothing pictures yet but I've pulled out my latest sewing book to use for the neckline and armhole binding on this dress.

I'm a sucker for a new sewing book although in recent years I've been able to refrain from purchasing many any.  I'm not into aprons or children's fashions or remaking thrift store items into trendy outfits....which would only look bizarre on me.  But I thought the price and content of Lynda Maynard's was a very worthwhile purchase.  I have the Clare Schaeffer  and Roberta Carr detailed couture books but I like the pictures and easy to use spiral binding of this latest one.  I'm also visually drawn to the fashion pictures which are more current than in those other books.

The pictorial index in the front of the book Couture Technique Selector seems like a useful idea as well.  Sometimes I just want a visual reminder of how to do a particular binding or hem and this is a good quick reference.  Many of the techniques can be found in my other sewing books but there are some here that I had not seen illustrated before :  ex. boned cuff....something I'd like to try on one of my JAM jackets this year.   I think this one will be at my right hand side as I decide what details to add to a garment to make it more personalized or special and yes, maybe even more "couture."

I've been reading up a storm in the last month so here are fiction titles that may interest some of you.

I took two paperbacks on our New Zealand trip, intending to drop them off along the way after I had finished reading them.  Well, the trip and our companions were all so enjoyable that I did far less reading than I had imagined so they both came home with me.

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos was an enjoyable, beach type read.  Interesting developments among several women friends, perhaps improbable but still a fun read.  I do like books written from the point of view of different characters.  This one is told from the POV of a new arrival, Cornelia, who has a hard time fitting in with her new suburban acquaintances,  from Lake, the new friend who seems to be holding back some her life story and from Piper the seemingly perfect, brittle leader of the neighborhood.  Good chick lit.

The Brutal Telling by Louise Penny was something I picked up at our church book sale and has been a fortunate discovery.  Louise Penny lives in a small village outside of Montreal, Canada and this is part of a mystery series starring Chief Inspector Gamache.  This book, with its slow methodical investigation and domestic undertones reminded me of a more serious version of the PBS Mystery series that Mr. Lucky and I enjoy, Midsomer Mysteries.  Small village life, people's lives intertwined, unspoken pettiness, jealousies and greed abounding.  I'm going to look up the first novel in this series and start from the beginning.

Sometimes you just need a light, happy read and for those days I've always enjoyed the latest Jan Karon Father Tim books.  Again, they remind me reading my beloved British Miss Read... books of a few decades ago.  The latest one leaves North Carolina and the small town of Mitford and sends Father Tim and his artist wife to Ireland for vacation.  Now, my mother's family is as Irish as they come but personally I'm not that sentimental about my Irish roots.  Maybe what I mean is that I'm not so nationalistic about my Irish roots.  The Irish English conflict looks like another tribal war to me.  Yes, I know about the oppression and horrors but I imagine that some of my Irish ancestors would have been just as happy if the shoe (or money and power) were on the other foot.   Which partially explains the Irish neutrality and cozying up to Fascists during WWII, in my opinion.  So this might explain why this book didn't particularly speak to me.  No it didn't dwell on any of that history but I do find that overly romanticizing your Irish ancestry is something that can grate on my nerves.  So while I usually enjoy these simple stories of redemption and hope for all of us, this one was not my cup of tea.

I've definitely saved the most intriguing and most powerful one for last.  I wasn't one of those raving about The Corrections when it was published nine years ago.  But I am thoroughly enjoying reading Franz's latest novel Freedom.  It's certainly long and certainly preachy in parts but he's a master at spotting the contradictions and hypocrisies in the lives of upper middle class families.   It's reminding me of Tom Wolfe nailing the 1980s in Bonfire of the Vanities.   I'm only 1/3 of the way through but am enjoying (maybe appreciating is better word) his take on these characters and their self-justifying motivations.  Sometimes a little too close to home but isn't that what makes for a good novelist?  Is it the great American novel?  No, I don't think the characters are real enough to be that long lived.  They feel more like composites of the issues that bother him in our American society today, which is what I thought Tom Wolfe was doing as well.  Fine with me.  I think our lack of humility about our inherent contradictions and self-justification is what leads to problems and conflict, in families and in politics.  So I'm enjoying this one and curious as to where it is headed.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Target Straw Bag Transformation

Target products have not yet inspired a full hacking site like Ikea products ( IKEA Hackers site  ) but perhaps there should be one.  My creative sewing friend Michelle often does the most creative things with Target T shirts, turning them into expensive RTW knock offs.  (I'll wait while you visit her blog   Sew Inspirations.....)  Her fabulous purses were the inspiration for this makeover which I completed today.

This bag started out last year as one of their $2.50 seasonal items.
I removed the poly lining and used it as a pattern.   I quilted some leftover silk remnant to a flannel scrap to make a new lining and hand stitched it to the bag top through the straw, just the way the previous lining had been attached.

Then I used Beacon Fabric Tac glue to attach the fringe....leftover from the guest room project.  I cut panels  from that retro print from my recent shower curtain project and zig zagged it onto turquoise leftover tencel fabric to make panels.   Looks like it might have come from one of the chic little expensive boutiques here in town.  All for $2.50, leftovers and my time.....priceless.

PS:  I love this wavy blade rotary cutter, like having rolling pinking shears!

Finished lining and pockets
The wonderful Fabric Tac

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Craigslist Score: Necchi Supernova

Yes, I should have been inside sewing on a hot day today but instead I was cruising Craigslist and ended up bringing a new baby home with me this afternoon.  Reading Brian's enjoyable blog Brian Sews  (should that be Brian Sews and Enables?) had me thinking about a new vintage machine (an oxymoron, if ever I heard one) and then this listing showed up just a few miles from home.  It belonged to the mother of a friend who gave it to the local gal here in town who thought she might start sewing again.  Well, she never has taken up sewing so now that she's downsizing and is moving into a much smaller place.  There I was so proud of myself last week for cleaning out fabric and taking it to the ASG meeting....guess it means that I have room for a new machine.  I've never owned or even operated a Necchi but for $50, in a cabinet with a stool and all accessories, there's sure to be lots of fun in my future.  Once again, just like with my vintage Rocketeer, I'm so attracted to the styling on this classic machines.  I don't want to wear vintage clothes (at middle age I think I would just look frumpy, not chic) but I can at least sew on machines from the past.

Friday, April 8, 2011

McCalls 6201 in the Works

McCall's 6201  is one of their Made For You patterns which have bust cup sizing in the pattern.   I've made a muslin of view E's scoop neckline in a sleeveless version.  It fit relatively nicely out of the envelope....which used to mean that I would have settled for it in RTW.  But thank goodness I sew and can get a fit for my body.  My delightful sewing friends made some subtle but important changes to the six darts yesterday.  Now I'm going to make separate right and left patterns because of my asymmetry but it's not too difficult on a sleeveless sheath.  I have several printed cotton lycra blends that I would like for summer wear with little knit cardigans.
Muslin #1 of 6201
Now I'm off to make a decadent potato casserole for tonight's pot luck and movie discussion group.  It's an old one but thought provoking...Richard Dreyfuss in Whose Life Is It Anyway?  Mary Tyler Moore won a Tony for her Broadway version and more recently Kim Cattrell played the patient in the London show.   Among this group of friends I doubt there will much difference of opinion on the movie's main theme.   Those topics of medical intervention, quality of life and even doctor assisted suicide are ones that are discussed often in a region largely populated with retirees.   So not the most uplifting movie night but enjoyable surrounded by friends and good times...and isn't that the point of the movie anyway?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shower Curtain....More Rectangular Sewing

Guest bath shower curtain, April 2011
I seem to need a deadline to get things like home dec projects done.  Last year, before I was blogging, I finished guest room drapery panels just a week before we headed up north.  Today I sewed up the guest room bath shower curtain above.  It's all rectangular sewing.  Bottom hem, side hems and then 12 small buttonholes across the top header.   So yes, got 'er done just a few weeks before we once again leave here for the summer.
I got a kick out of the tropical and quirky accent fabric in the guest bath and guest room.  It's from Calico Corners and is a retro barkcloth type print with flamingos and tropical islands.  Here are the panels from last year:
Guest room drapery panels, May 2010
Tomorrow back to fashion sewing.  I'm getting together with some local wonderful ASG friends and hope they will help me with the first fitting for a summer sheath.   That kind of sewing will require a lot more measuring, plenty of tweaks around the curves and fluff but the outcome will be something that fits me.  And I'll have a lot more fun with those girlfriends than I did man handling all of the fabric for these projects.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Swimsuit Weather

I've so enjoyed reading about Couture Boot Camp with Susan Khalje in the past week.  One of these days I'll try a lace garment of mine own....but today is not that day.  Instead I used up an inexpensive lacy knit fabric in my stash for this quick swimsuit coverup.  It's warm and sunny in SW Florida and the pool in our complex is heated so I'm enjoying an hour or so at the end of the day splashing around.  This fabric is years old....from whenever Hancocks closed their local stores and everything was 70% off.  The pattern is my  Chicos knock off   blouse poncho tutorial  slightly lengthened to make it more dress like.   Finished: 43" wide by 31" inches long.    Sort of looks good as a long tunic as well.   Sometimes you just need a quick sewing easy project.  Done.

Monday, April 4, 2011

JAM #3, Vogue 8136, Finished and a PR Confession

Well, I wore my latest JAM to my ASG chapter meeting on Saturday and got Mr. Lucky to snap a picture.  I really like this pattern and think it will be my wool doubleknit and boiled wool go to pattern.  That collar has lots of potential for different shapes as well so this is sure to be a standard in my TNT collection.  I did interface all the pieces and perhaps that was the opposite overkill for this particular jacket since it does feel and look bulky on my body.  But it's still very wearable right now and will be fun to make up for cooler autumn days.  I also think I'll like it in a woven, lighter weight fabric.
Collar dart cut open, on the left

Top of collar dart, not sewn all the way to the edge

Shawl collar details

It's not easy to see the construction details for this shawl collar but it is one of the easiest and most successful ways I've ever sewn those under collar corners.  Rather than pivot at the corner and work to move all the fabric out of the way before sewing the rest of the neck seam, you merely sew the shoulder seam up to the collar dart.  Then start on the other side of that collar dart and sew the neck seam.  Perfect result every time

No dimples or pulls on that shoulder corner!

PR Confession:  OK, I'll admit it.  I love reading PR and hate, hate , hate writing reviews.  I'm rather computer challenged and the external links and picture posting on PR make me crazy.  I know that people complain about posting and editing here on Blogger but they must be trying to do "cooler" things than I am.  I'm not at that level and probably won't be going there soon.  I'm thrilled with how easy it is to put a picture on my desktop, download it to Blogger and then put it in a post.   So, yes, I will get this pattern formally reviewed for PR but not soon.  So thank you, all of you great PR reviewers.  I bow to your commitment and expertise.  Of course, this aversion might also explain why most of my PR reviews are OOP patterns :-)

And now for some little diversions.  I have been reading and enjoying Gail Godwin novels for many years now.  I especially enjoyed 
Father Melancholy's Daughter and Evensong.  I picked up her novel, Queen of the Underworld, and found it readable but unfulfilling.  Wonderful concept....young girl reporter gets her first job in Miami just as the first Cuban refugees are fleeing Castro.  The newsroom scenes seemed authentic and gritty but the rest of it was full of slow, unresolved stories that left me wanting more.  So disappointing.  But like a sewing project, some books are lackluster as well, even from much loved authors.

Last picture...the summer haircut.  Every summer my brother would get the "buzz cut" for the hot weather season.  Lucky the rescue dog got his summer buzz cut last week and came out looking like an entirely different dog.  I was a little horrified at first but have gotten used to this new look....and it has cut down on his heavy panting.  Gosh, two dogs with entirely different body thermostats.  Sam the basenji is like a cat, following the sun everywhere, never pants and can't get warm enough.  Lucky is the total opposite, spends time on the tile floors to cool down and pants much more quickly with exertion and heat.