Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas Then and Now

Merry Christmas from my screen to yours.  
Yes, this was the Christmas outfit that my mother made many decades ago when this was the photo for our family Christmas card.  I don't have a photo of me wearing my Christmas outfit for this year since we have had nothing but fog and rain for the last week....and much of that week Mr. Lucky and I spent sniffling and coughing with a nasty winter cold.  Here is is on my dress form....another Tabula Rasa jacket with Fabric Mart glittery fabrics and piping done with silk from a gift given by a dear friend many years ago.  

Tabula Rasa Jacket by Fit for Art Patterns

I am looking forward to feeling like myself by next week and have a great new boiled wool jacket to share.  Until then, happy wishes for a great holiday time.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Sewing Retreat....

In early November I was fortunate enough to attend my third sewing retreat of the year.  I so enjoy being around creative people but this time I was not as prepared as I would have liked.  I enjoy having projects already cut out as well as prepped/marked/started. This time I was finding it difficult to focus on the projects I did bring and after three days came home feeling still a little discombobulated and frustrated.  Without much more ado, here's what I was able to accomplish:

So what are these items?  The two ruana-like hanging items were inspired by watching Peggy Sager's webcast on fall accessories from 2014 Oct. 20, 2014 Silhouette Patterns webcast on youtube  These are two woven fabrics from my resources center that fringe nicely.  I cut my version 30" wide and 58" long.  Then I cut a slit up the middle half way to the back neckline area.  Peggy doesn't suggest it but I cut out a 1 1/2" wedge of fabric for that middle slit and serged the  inside edges.  After that it's sit and fringe time while you chat with girlfriends.  There's another pair of Style Arc Elle pants on the left in a very soft leopard knit.  They look too hoochy mama for wearing out in public but they will be cozy knit lounge pants for the coming winter months.  Four infinity scarves with some purple or burgundy in them to coordinate with some long sweater cardigans in those colors.  One of them is a knit lace fabric with a piece of burgundy silk charmeuse as an interior single layer lining and it really makes the burgundy and purple in the print pop.  Not shown is a half finished Kwik Sew shirt for Mr. Lucky, a work in progress.  There's a journal cover that I made with Lorine Mason when she taught a two hour mini-class at the retreat.  We got to use her templates and paints to create our own "Urban Doodles."  Check out her pretty blog and clever projects:  Lorine Mason It's So Pretty

My favorite project from the weekend was getting a good start on this new jacket, Vogue 8932  8932
I have had this pattern for a few years and even had Sarah Veblen help me make some fitting adjustments and brought a cut out one to the 2014 winter sewing retreat.  But I cut it out of a lovely ponte knit and didn't stabilize those interior corners on the back.  The fabric stretched while I was sewing it, urghhh.   I'm not usually OCD but those bumps would not press out so I just put it in my frustration project pile and abandoned it.  Audrey of  Sewtawdry  asked me about it this year and I was determined to return and "make it work."  The fabric is wool jersey from Fabric Mart that I washed and dried two times to make it more like boiled wool, one of my very favorite winter fabrics.  I put small pieces of very lightweight interfacing at those angled corners and am happy with how they turned out.  I completed the front and back sections at the retreat and then brought it home to make my topstitching decisions.  Since then I've completed the jacket and will write up a post with more detailed pictures shortly in the near future someday. 
Sewing retreats aren't just for sewing, of course.  The weather was nice enough that every day I was able to take long walks in the sunshine:
Sunrise from my hotel room

Sunset on the bay one evening
After a day working on a complicated project we sometimes get giddy at night....and that's when sewing girlfriends really get funny.  I showed Sue and Lorine the Tumblr picture blog of vintage patterns with funny captions and dialogues:  "Pattern Behavior" and that got us to thinking and laughing at some of the giveaway patterns on the "freebie table."

"I hate our new sister bride.  She knows I look terrible in peach." 

"Is that what she meant about 'fan club'?" 
OK, enough silliness.  Just wanted to get my little blog/sewing journal caught up with my fall projects, limited as they may seem.  Here's hoping that your sewing projects are making you smile.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Reunion Stitch and Flip Jacket and Trip Down Memories Lane

"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm 64?"  I imagine Paul McCartney could not have imagined being 64 when he wrote those lyrics....nor did I imagine that I would so enjoy a reunion of my grade school classmates when I was 64.  But I have reached that age and so did 35 more of my 104 grade school friends and we had had a terrific time laughing and sometimes crying the weekend before last.  But before I share any more of those details, here's the finished jacket that I wore for the morning and afternoon festivities.
Stitch and flip Simplicity 4698

Bias raw edges on front edge....before lightly brushing with a small brush
This stitch and flip technique is so easy (once you have a jacket pattern adjusted) and I trimmed it with the same silk tweed cut 1" on the bias then zig zag stitched on the front opening edge, sandwiching the raw edge in between, and the sleeve edges as well.  I used a 3/4" bias strip to outline the single layer patch pockets, again just placing it over the raw edge so they lay flat against the body of the jacket.  
3/4 " bias trim on patch pocket, again before light brushing
I have been wanting labels for my garments for quite a while now and found and easy and inexpensive way to add a label.  I ordered a rubber stamp from an Etsy supplier who already had the sewing machine artwork which was then customized with my blog title.  I used fabric stamping medium to stamp a strip of ombre ribbon and am thrilled with the result.  

I gave myself a personal challenge for this reunion weekend, to wear something that I had sewn each day.  No one else there had to know, I just needed something to give myself some confidence and comfort since I was emceeing our gathering and felt overly responsible.  Friday evening a number of early birds got together for dinner at a local hamburger joint.  I'm wearing the silk striped shirt from a much loved New Look 6110 pattern.  I like this pattern so much that I have a few more in mind.  It is comfortable and flattering and has plenty of opportunity for embellishment and hem variations.

Saturday's festivities opened with a tour of our 1931 grade school.  More than half of the signed up attendees gathered on our old school playground before we took a tour of our former school building, now parish offices and a small private school for gifted children.

Mary Jo's mother....and my former scout leader....had saved everything including our 8th grade uniform.
Several particular places evoked some very strong memories and first grade classroom, for instance, where I remember learning to read so quickly and eagerly.  By sixth grade we were divided by gender.  In seventh grade, in November 1963, our 2 7th grade classes were watching "educational television" (I think perhaps rudimentary French lessons) when there was a break in the show and we were suddenly watching news about the shootings in Dallas and President Kennedy's assassination.  When we entered that classroom chills went up my back because it feels exactly the same in size, in lighting....and in the television mounted in the same corner.  Among 64 year olds, our two classes have a very unique and on the spot recollection of that day.
The television was bigger, the classroom had 54 13 year old girls in it but it felt the same.....
Of course we also had silly, fun stories and the school auditorium and stage pulled those out of our long term memory.  Our girls' basketball team were champions in 1965 (and four of the five team members were together again.)  There were five years of an outside theatrical producer coming to our school to help us put on a show.  Each class sang a few Broadway numbers and there were trunks of rayon-acetate garish costumes that we girls loved and thought were magnificent gowns.  Once we assembled on the stage for a picture (taken by our patient and good humored tour guide, the husband of one of the parish secretaries) we could not help but burst into song.  I will spare you that video but it is receiving accolades on our class Facebook page.  How come I can recall the words to those songs 50 plus years later but can't remember where I put the chalk marker in my sewing room? 
Ready to burst into song....
Of course, one of the "boys" remarked to me afterward,  he thought it was just the same as our former production experiences....the "girls" are happy and excited and giggling about the show and its songs and most of the "boys" are being stoic and kind-hearted enough to go along while hoping to not appear too awkward.
After the school tour we assembled at a nearby restaurant and bar for a cash bar and some appetizers.  There were three dozen classmates from the original 104 and seven have passed away.  I knew it would be next to impossible to speak with everyone in the three hours we had there so I did ask the group to do a one minute speed "update" to say anything about their life in the fifty years since we have known one another.  It was funny, poignant, thoughtful and caring to hear those shares and to experience the affection and good will amongst each other .  People have lives that are full of responsibilities, joys, disappointments and obligations. 

 But for this time together it was about celebrating a common past, a living present and honoring those who could not be or are no longer amidst us.  My final toast choked me up a little (which happened more than once over these three days)..."To the children we were, and the adults we have become."  So glad that we did one last big gathering and happier that so many people who have never attended one in the last fifteen years made an effort for this one.  

To bring this back to a sewing theme, I'd like to share a few last photos.  Our first grade pictures:
Not "my class" but I can name 3/4 of my classmates

My first grade class
I do not own a copy of this picture because I was so distraught when I saw myself in it that I scratched out my face.  I wasn't smiling and that bothered me terribly in first grade.  When I did get to see a friend's copy decades later I could see that I was not the only one caught a little by surprise (imagine the photographer's job fitting all of these first graders into this picture!!)  But sewing people will appreciate that I can still feel the texture of the fabric in the outfit I am wearing.  My mother sewed virtually all of my clothes then....we did have school uniforms so it was mostly Sunday and "dressy clothes."  She would be so surprised and I hope proud of how much sewing means to me today.  I loved the feel of the dotted swiss organza in the outfit she made me and to this day the colors and textures of fabric are what draw me to this hobby.  Now can you tell which one is me?...
Then....last seat with the brown dotted swiss skirt and puff sleeve blouse.  Thank you, Mom. stitch and flip jacket
Next report I'll confess how I found something for my resource center even when the NYC fabric district is closed on Sunday.  Until the, wishing you smiles in your sewing room and life.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Stitch and Flip Jacket Progress

My reunion weekend jacket is progressing nicely and should be finished by this weekend.  Here are a few more pictures of my progress and how I put shoulder pads into this "quilted jacket."  Those of you with strong, straight shoulders I hate you can stop reading soon.

Before I start the quilting I needed to mark the location of these small petal shaped shoulder pads on the back and front of the jacket lining.

The shoulder pads are from Linda Lee's online store The Sewing Workshop  Petal Shoulder Pads  They are not cheap but are worth every penny.  I use them carefully when deciding which garments deserve these high quality pads.

Once I have marked the jacket lining, then I can start more quilting.  This picture shows my jacket with three of the
four sections quilted (I stopped so Mr. Lucky and I could go kayaking on a lovely afternoon)
Once the front section was quilted, then it was time to sew in the sleeve.  This part required me to look back at that turquoise jacket and work out how I had done it previously.  

 The sleeve is set into the armscye that has two different sections....the bottom part is quilted to the lining and the top section is left open for a shoulder pad insertion.

I pinned the sleeve in place then as I sewed the sleeve I stopped and clipped right at the intersection of those two areas, folded back the lining and continued stitching until I did the same on the sleeve back.  
Clipped quilted lining, folded back and sleeve insertion continuing on unequaled part of the jacket

Sleeve is sewn in place and that clip is folded back before inserting the lining
The sleeve lining is hand stitched in place around the entire armhole so that clip will be folded back and the sleeve lining will cover it and keep it from unraveling.
Sleeve lining pinned into place and ready for hand stitching while I sit on the back deck

Close up of sleeve lining pinned into place and covering that clipped section
Oh, the kayaking?  It was a beautiful late afternoon day and we drove up to Cold Cabin Park near Delta, PA on the Susquehanna River.  All these years living in the area (including the decades ago Three Mile Island power station scare) and we have never been here.  There are two dams on the Susquehanna and this is the "pool" area between them.  What a great wide expanse and wonderful wildlife sighting place.  We saw herons and kingfishers and four bald eagles at once swirling and swooping in the skies.  Stopped at a barbecue joint on the way home and saw a field of sunflowers across the street at the sun was setting and starting the blaze into a red, red sky.  

I love my sewing projects but I was glad I stopped so I could enjoy a beautiful day outside.  Winter will be here soon enough and I will be looking back longingly at these pictures.  Here's hoping you get to fill your day with some beauty in your sewing room or in nature.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Dressing and Sewing for a Reunion

Years ago I heard Peggy Sagers share that her princess seamed sheath dress was a "reunion dress." As she stated, that's when you need darts and princess seams to make you look your best since you want to make a lasting impression on people you seldom see. Well, I think she was talking about a high school or college reunion but point made.  You see, I have a reunion coming up in a few weeks, one that I have been busy planning for a year.  When my girlfriend and I were setting up our rooming together arrangements, the first thing she asked me was "What are you going to wear?"  We both laughed because one of our fun activities is snoop shopping at a high end store in our home town....and wondering where on earth people are wearing those glamorous gowns on the "formal" side of the store.  Chi chi gowns are not something I have needed nor will need in my life so I'm relieved from having to make corselets and all the underpinnings that make evening wear look and feel good.  
No, this is not a high school or college reunion, instead it is for my 8th grade parochial grammar school class from northern New Jersey.  I've shared pictures before from our yearly lunch gatherings and this is really just a larger, more significant version of that get together.  But as I told another friend who just attended her 50th high school reunion, you want to look good enough so that 27 years from now when a classmate reads your obituary he or she says, "Darn she looked good last time I saw her."  
Because I sew I have double demands on my outfits. Yes, I want to look good but I also want to make sure I wear something I've sewn.  
The reunion will be October 10 and the weather could be anything from warm and sunny to cool and rainy.  Fortunately these are strictly casual gatherings.  We are going to tour our old grammar school (originally built in 1931) for an hour then reconvene for an appetizer buffet and cash bar at a nearby restaurant for the afternoon with a walk through our hometown retail area and stop for ice cream afterward.  Dinner on your own so you can talk at length with a smaller group.  There will be more than two dozen classmates and about a half dozen significant others.  There are  few people who have never attended our previous big two reunions and I am thrilled that they are making the effort to attend this one, most like the last "big" effort we make to get together.  
I want my outfit to be versatile enough for those weather variables, flattering but comfortable enough for plenty of walking....and nice enough for me to be proud that I sewed it.  My first thought was to make myself a new "stitch and flip jacket" and that's my project this week. 
Basically a stitch and flip jacket is a faster but similarly comfortable Chanel-like jacket....or now the preferred term seems to be "iconic French jacket."  Me, I just call it another stitch  and flip because that's the technique I learned ten years ago from my first online class via Patternreview and the late Shannon Gifford. 

 I have raved before about what a marvelous teacher Shannon was and I have sewn a half dozen jackets with these techniques and they all are as wearable and cozy as when I first made them.  I was happy to see that Shannon's entire set of course materials are still available at PR  Shannon Gifford's classes on PR   and I think they are worth every penny and more.  When someone in the class wanted her to explain how to make this techniques "more Chanel-like," Shannon proceeded to add an entire additional jacket with step by step pics showing how she did that.  Here's a copy of the Threads issue 111 with a shorter version of this technique  "Line and Underline in One Step"  
I spent a few hours last week deciding which fabric to use from my resource center....this silk tweed from Fabric Mart....and putting together a sample with fully fused very lightweight interfacing and 1 inch bias cut self fabric fringe.  I am using my well-loved Simplicity 4698 princess seam jacket that Sarah Veblen fit on me ten years ago....and that fitting help was the best investment in my sewing skills ever.
I want a longer jacket to wear with skinny pants and longer sleeves for fall weather.

I went into my closet to look at those other jackets and decide what I liked best or wanted to change this time around.  I'm going to add shoulder pads so examined how I did that on the turquoise tweed jacket that you see in my profile picture (with now departed basenji Sam)  
Quilting stops so shoulder pad can be inserted

No shoulder pads in this jacket but there's velcro in case I want to use them
I like the silk tweed pockets on the bias
Love this Louise Cutting technique to cut fashion fabric on the bias and use a small brush to make it  unravel.
I spent the most time block fusing the fabric and cutting out the pattern pieces then exactly the same pieces in lining, in this case Bemberg rayon also from Fabric Mart.  The sewing is rather simple and the Threads article is a great overview.  An hour or two of sewing, pressing open (and cooling the fabric, always my impatient moments) trimming then top stitching....repeat all the way around and on day two I had the body of the jacket, sewn and also "quilted" to make it more "Chanel-like" and also because it makes it even cozier and more sweater like.  
First stitch and flip jacket nine years ago and just as wearable today

In the next few posts I will show how I add shoulder pads to this design and then my finished jacket.  I have not made a semi-tailored fitted garment like this since my coat project last winter and I am enjoying sewing with woven for a bit more of a structured garment.  I think it will be nice addition to my fall wardrobe and perfect for the reunion gathering.  Are you doing any "special event" sewing these days?