Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sewing Jots & Tittles- 2.27.11

I've decided to start a weekly blog feature so I'll have a place to note all of the sewing "randomness" that swims in my head and is part of my life. There's just so much going on in this little head of mine and I have to be able to store it somewhere.

- Did you know that Jo-Ann's doesn't do refunds on patterns? Maybe you did and I was the last to know, but I learned the hard way the last Vogue pattern sale. It seems I waited soooooo long for the Spring patterns that I got too excited and bought more than I wanted. I normally don't do this. Well I went back to return some and that's when I found out. It seems people have been buying patterns, scanning the pieces, folding them back up and returning them. Who are these dishonest people?

-From now I've decided to be super CRITICAL about the patterns I buy. I don't want to buy anything that I can't return first of all.  Secondly, somehow I'm becoming a Minimalist. I recently gave a box of patterns to Goodwill and I've been just downsizing the house as a whole. I don't really splurge on fabric like I used to either. I went to Jo-Ann's today and picked up some more muslin and this pattern. I bought one jacket pattern unlike any I have in my stash. I definitely want to make this jacket this year.......

Here it is up close....isn't it gorgeous!

-Speaking of jackets---I still have to finish my January coat and February's almost over. I'm in the hole 2 jackets.  It's crazy. My client work load (along with some other obligations) blew my personal sewing schedule out of the water. But that's ok, I will catch up (I'm not worried) and before the end of this year I will have 12 coat/ jackets. I'm about to build up some sewing momentum......

- The weather was 81 degrees today and I thought I'd put on a pretty dress for church. I unpacked my Spring and Summer wear and came upon what I consider to be my most "Favorite Dress I've Ever Sewn". I know that's a lofty title, but I really do love this dress.

 I made this at least 3 or 4 years ago---before I began my blog. It's Vogue DKNY 1027. I stalked this white, blue, maroon, & gold lycra knit fabric at Wal-Mart for months, refusing to pay the $4.99/yd price tag (I was SO cheap then--I know better now. You have to sometimes pay a little more for quality fabric). Several months after spying the fabric, I stumbled into Wal-Mart to buy some supplies. I was have a pretty tough day and was down in the dumps. I walked past the fabric section (which no longer exists now) and spotted this fabric on clearance at $1.97/yd. Well you better believe that helped lift my spirits. I bought the fabric and the rest is history.
I love the roominess of this dress. It's been on picnics, shopping excursions, church etc. So functional and stylish.

-I've dropped work on my coats to work on the March 11th Father/Daughter Banquet dresses. I don't want to procrastinate since I have 2 dresses to make. If you recall I'm making one for my daughter and one for my Goddaughter. I'm cutting out my daughter's dress this evening and hope to wrap up sewing in the next few days.You can see my daughter's dress in the last post. I'll reveal my Goddaughter's dress plans once I decide on the pattern (I'm stuck between 2 choices). Here they are....
I was debating on making her the same dress as my daughter (pattern on the right) but in different fabric but she's somewhat smaller than my daughter so I don't think that pattern would fit (she's a size 1/2 to 1) and that pattern begins at 3. I'll do a quick fitting with her (I made a muslin of the bodice) and if it doesn't work I'll use the pattern on the left and make the pink dress pictured.

-I'm about to cut out my daughters dress and am sweating bullets. I have ABSOLUTELY no extra fabric to spare so I have to cut carefully. Look at my cutting layout (excuse the messing cutting table). There won't be anything but scraps left.....

- While I've typing all of this I've been watching a Hoarder's marathon. My heart goes out to those people and their struggles and I'm happy when they are able to overcome them. Today was the first time I'd ever seen a woman who was hoarding fabric amongst her things.

-Lastly, tonight is the Oscar's. I really don't care to watch it but of course I want to stalk the fashions before the show.

Well that's all of my random thoughts for now. Got an interesting Sewing "Jots and Tittles" to share?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On the Backburner......Current/Future projects!

I'm certain by the time I even finish this coat no one will even care! LOL! I've been working on it for the past couple of weeks but have been swamped by client work. Here's how far I've progressed......
I decided to go with the wool instead of the gabardine and I'm happy with my decision. To me the wool makes it appear more coat-like and without it I felt like my coat would appear to be a glorified cardigan! LOL! So here she is. I just need to put the sleeves on and create the lining and then hem everything. I have to add a lining or else it will be crazy difficult trying to get into this thing. And don't even talk about itchy!
 As I was saying, I've had client work "out of the wazoo" just spilling over everywhere.
  I had a sizeable project pop up today (modifying curtains) that will take up most my evening on Thursday. I've got jean alterations for tonight. Of course I own a sewing business so client sewing has to come first. I'm not complaining, especially since I've made more money in the last 2 months than I made all of last year (Thank you Jesus!) but I would like to get back to sewing for myself.

Fortunately I'll be taking off Friday to celebrate my B-Day (which was last Wednesday) and get a little sewing done for myself---provided I don't get called in for Jury Duty (yep, it's my week of possible civic duty). So I'm keeping my fingers crossed! So of course my January coat is first on the list. And I still need to make a jacket for February, which is almost over. But I will get it done--provided no client work pops up on me.

I do have an upcoming event to be particularly excited about. I mentioned in an earlier post this year that I had a Gala to attend in April. You may recall the fabric and pattern I've picked.....

(This is a beautiful piece of royal blue satin that is the perfect weight for this dress. I hope this silhouette is flattering for me (I'm pretty sure it is) and can't wait to do a muslin to find out.)

Well I just found out (and we immediately signed up) for the Father & Daughter Banquet that our church is hosting. I'm extremely excited about this event. You know why, I"m a MOM and you know how we can get so emotional about these events. I know this will be the perfect night, Lord willing, for my Hubby and his "Little Girlfriend". I've already picked out the cutest pattern and fabric. Let me know what you think......

(Here's the pattern. I plan to make the little red dress on the right. I didn't originally intend to make this dress red, but I stumbled upon the perfect fabric in my stash. Plus the red is great on my little one's skin tone. Here's the fabric.....)

 (It's a brocade and I had to take a pic of it in natural light for you to see it better. This pic still doesn't do it justice. It's really burgundy and the color is so rich!)

(Here it is up close.... )

I have had this fabric in my stash forever and had hoped to make a cute top for myself if the occassion ever presented itself. Well it's been like some 5 years later so I'm over that but am happy to use it for my daughters dress. I have to admit, I love having a fabric stash for times like these. It makes me feel like I have my own fabric store in my house! LOL! Anyway, March is right around the corner so I'll have to begin working on this sometime next week. In addition I plan to make my Goddaughter's dress (Her and her father (who is my daughters's Godfather) are also going--so it will be a double date between the Godsisters and Godfathers). I plan to do that provided we can pick her fabric and pattern in time. I think I'm going to cry once both dresses are done. Hey---I can't help it, I'm a sentimental MOM! LOL!

Well that's what's been going on with me. Lot. Many items "on the stove" all at once. I bet you've been busy too. Have any special event sewing coming up?

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Mountain of Muslin

I wanted to thank you all for the wonderful Birthday acknowledgments and well wishes! I'm breathing a sigh of relief because it's Friday and I finally have some sewing free time for the myself. Lately, I've been working on several alterations for clients. I just finished shortening the length of a Ball Gown that my client will be wearing tonight to a Military Ball. It had 4 layers. I had to hem 3 of them and bustle the top layer. I'm just happy the dress now fits her perfectly!!! I still have a few more alterations but I can finally finish up my coat this weekend and begin a couple of new project.

With all of the work I've had to do on my coat and with new projects in queue, I feel like it's time to restock on muslin. It has always been a dream that if I could win a lifetime supply of several things, muslin would definitely be one of them. I just could imagine it. I could see a large dump truck filled to the brim with bolts of muslin back up to my house and dump a huge pile of muslin in my backyard. Wow, that would be wonderful. I would love to just look up and see a "mountain of muslin" and just know that I could make test garments to my little hearts delight! Sigh, that would be nice.

I know some people don't like to fool with muslin for various reasons. And I get it that some people don't like to use it for test garments and others just don't like the added expense. I know other people who use old sheets as muslin. For me it's such a necessity. I never used to use since I mostly used to sew knits which for me don't require much fitting. Woven fabrics are a different deal. Given the fact that I like to sew very fitted garments I need the muslin to help fine tune the fit, especially since I have to make adjustments for my narrow back.  So I do prefer to use it but I can't justify spending a whole lot on. So I'm always looking for a way to purchase muslin at a cheaper price. Well I was delighted to find that Jo-Ann's sells 15 yd bolts of  Sew Essentials 44" muslin for $29.99. Well when I use a 50% off coupon on it that means technically I'm only paying $1/yd.  Plus this usually lasts me forever. I'm certain it's not the best quality muslin but it's a test garment and works fine for me. I've used that muslin in testing my current coat and it worked great!!!

So how do you buy your muslin? Do you have any bargain tips to share?

BTW, Atlanta Thread Supply is having free shipping all weekend on most every item!!! I don't know about you but I really despise shipping charges so I love to take advantage of free shipping even for the smallest of items.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Birthday Loot!!!

Today's my birthday and I must admit that it's been a good one. My Hubby suprised me with a little Bday celebration on yesterday and I received much love from friends and family. More importantly I turned another year older and I'm thankful for all of God's blessings in my life. I'm thankful for life's experiences and the wisdom I'm hoping I've gained from them. I have a great family, wonderful friends and I'm priveledge to know and interact with such wonderful people as you. What more can a girl ask for. Well.........I must admit that gifts are icing on the cake. So here's a few little gifts that I got for myself and received from others. I'm super easy to please and am a simple Girl at heart. So these gifts were PERFECT!!! The foot scrubber I received from a friend was a hilarious gift!!!
Out of this pile of stuff, here's my sewing loot up close.....
If you recall a couple of posts ago I won a Velvaboard and Point Press & Clapper off of Ebay. I bought the "Couture Sewing  Techniques" book after hearing rave reviews from Sew Hot Mommi and Erica. I bought the Claire Shaeffer "Couture Techniques Workshop Basics" dvd. And finally the Wonderful Alethia sent me draping tape in response to this post (thanks Alethia, that was SO thoughtful)!!!! So I'm pretty happy with all of my sewing loot!!!

So it's been a WONDERFUL birthday!!! Another year older and with some cool new sewing supplies. I can't wait to use my sewing gear. I think I may have to pop in those DVD's on tomorrow.........

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Butterick 5247---Quickie Cowl neck dress

 Ok, I must admit that I had my doubts about this dress.I started working on this dress in January and it sorta got pushed to the side. It was my first dress of the year and I wasn't too sure if it would turn out to be cute. I was questioning the dolman sleeves since I didn't want my dress to have the "bat wing" effect. Secondly, I wan't sure if the cowl would be flattering with this pattern. So I'm suprised that it actually turned out cuter that I originally thought. It's not super fancy or anything but think it makes a statement. I paired it with a black belt, striped tights, and booties. I wish I had a short, fitted leather jacket to wear with this.
 Butterick 5247

Pattern Description:

Semi-fitted above mid-knee dresses with cowl-like collar long dolman sleeves and belt.

Pattern Sizing:
I cut the size 12

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

Were the instructions easy to follow?

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
It was a Quickie!

Fabric Used:
A Polyester knit with argyle print. I've had this fabric in my stash FOREVER. I still have 3 yards of it left. It was nice to finally use it!

(My Daugher and Goddaughter wanted to join in on the posing)

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I doubled the length of the cowl so it would be more exaggerated. I also sewed it on wrong---I didn't fold it in half and then sew it to the neckline. Instead I only sewed on end of the cowl to the neckline (right sides together) and when wearing it I just loosely flip inside the neckline and wear it. I just wanted the cowl to much fuller than originallly attended---and I achieved that.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
Maybe---this is a great way to showcase a knit. And if you pair it with a cute jacket you've got an effortless outfit.

(aren't they naturals! LOL)
Great pattern and great wardrobe builder! You could make 3-4 in a day easily!

Friday, February 4, 2011

McCall 5987 Coat Progress/ The Birth of a Muslin Pattern.......

I am currently working on my January coat and have been delayed due to a fitting issue. I had hoped to have it finished by last weekend but hit a roadblock. When it comes to fit I'm as stubborn as a mule and won't bulge with proceeding until I've perfected the fit. I know this may sound a little crazy, but there's nothing worst to me then an ill-fitting garment. If I wanted that then I could just go buy RTW (Ready to Wear) clothes. Fortunately I've resolved the issue and am working on another muslin to verify that and then I can cut and sew my coat. I will have it finished before this week's end so I can move on to making my February jacket.

My greatest challenge when fitting patterns is my back. I have a narrow back which cause huge vertical folds of fabric to cascade across my back. I'm also high-waisted, so my back is relatively short (for the record my other fit issues are having to lengthen everything because I'm tall, having a high derriere, and having borderline narrow shoulders). Ok, back to my narrow back issue. The drafting for the basic 4 pattern groups (Vogue, Butterick, etc..) pretty much makes altering for my small back a necessity at least 85% of the time. My small back is the main reason why I'd like to get a custom dressform. It would just be so much easier to do alterations instead of taking off and putting on a muslin over and over again to perfect the fit. I do love the fact that I don't ever have to make this adjustment in knits. Also,  I rarely hear about people having very narrow backs. Know of anyone? I mostly hear other sewers complain about having broad backs and shoulders.

To be honest adjusting for my narrow back can be a real pain.  For years I've struggled to find the information to deal with different garments. For one there's not a ton of info out there. Secondly, for the few adjustments that are out there the one you choose depends on what you're making. Sometimes a narrow back alteration can be different when making a dress or  a shirt. The idea is the same but it may have to be executed differently. All kinds of questions can arise. Do I alter for the narrow back above the waistline? What if I'm altering a dress, do I reduce circumference in the skirt? So many questions. Of course it depends on the design. And in short it just takes experience to sort it all. I feel I've finally go a good handle on this and I'm happy about it. I'm familiar with several ways to reduce my narrow back and attribute that to having great resources. My FAVORITE books on fitting are.....
Here's how the "Fitting & Pattern: A Multiple Method Approach" Alteration book recommends I alter my pattern....
I love that this book does show multiple ways to alter your pattern and muslin. Here's the page on the left up close. I love how it calls this the "narrow rib cage" fitting issue. To me, it's a narrow back but I can see somewhat what they mean.
 Here's how the Singer "Perfect Fit" book suggests I deal with my narrow back.....

I love how it shows you how to make minor and major flat pattern adjustments.

So armed with this info I proceeded with making my coat. For starters I picked a coat out a coat of my closet that fit me very well and I used those back adjustment to compare with the back adjustments of this pattern. I noticed the upper back was about 1" wider so I decided to take the inch out of the shoulder down to the mid back. This reduced the width of the shoulder would require me to ease in the front piece when I sewed it but that wouldn't be a big deal. After I finished up this alteration I decided to make up my test garment out of muslin and mark the waist and grainline.

Here's the muslin of my coat without the attached scarf. As you can see the front looks good, with the exception of me needing to lengthen the sleeve a couple of inches.

Now take a look at the back......
I was playing around with doing a tuck I read about in the "Fitting & Pattern: A Multiple Method Approach" book (above)and as you can see it didn't even help in removing half the wrinkles. So I knew I needed to do something a bit more drastic.

So to take it a step further I decided to  pinch out the excess fabric from the lower shoulder to the hem of the garment. I think I read about this alteration in a sewing magazine and decided to give it a try.
See how much better this works. The fit is perfect. 

This adjustment is great and doesn't change the grainline one bit. For me, it's too much work to try and translate this change onto a flat pattern. I think Peggy Sager's says it best in her Achieve great Fit through Muslin DVD (I highly recommend this and I own all but 2 of her DVD's)---she says, to paraphrase, that you can do whatever you need to in the muslin. Tuck, dart, whatever. If you make too many changes you can always use your muslin as your pattern. And in this case that's exactly what I'm gonna do.
So I've decided to add back the 1" I originally took out of the shoulder and upper back and instead create another muslin in which I just pinch out the excess fullness in the back. Then I'll just use that muslin as my new pattern. Remember the muslin will have grainlines drawn on it so it serves as a great pattern. I'm currently working on this right now.

I'm sure it's all of our dreams for the the patterns to fit perfectly right out of the envelope. Sometimes making pattern adjustments  it seems like alot of work especially when working on such a simple pattern as this one, but of course it's a necessity. But we do what we have to do to create the perfect fit and it's SO worth it!

 I'm currently working on another quick coat muslin and hope to have this baby complete this weekend. On top of that I have some client alterations to do (I'm hemming a 4 layer Ball Gown) ---- so I'm pretty busy. I'm running behind schedule but I hope to catch up. But before I go, let me ask you---what alteration do you normally have to do that is or used to be "a pain to do"?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

4 out of 7 "ain't" Bad!!!

I was just about to give an update on coat when I received some good news.  I was notified by my Girl Mad14kt (who just started a new sewing blog) of an Ebay auction for a Velvaboard & Clapper combo just a couple of days ago. Well I've been wanting a Velvaboard FOREVER and it's been on my Christmas list since 2009 when I began my blog. They're not even made by June Tailor anymore (I know because I called the company myself). The next best thing would be a Needleboard but I really didn't want to shell out the $70 or so bucks for it. I know in truth that you don't have to have a Velvaboard or Needleboard when sewing with napped fabric. You can easily use a towel or a big piece of the fabric you're working with to iron onto. Well I love to collect gadgets so not having one was out of the question. The only real question was "where was I going to get one"?

Well I bid on the auction and WON!!!! Yayyy!!! Two years later and I finally score a Velvaboard. As a bonus the Velvaboard was being sold with a "Talon" brand point presser & clapper. I already own a point presser & clapper but heck, I could put another one to use. So for $20 and $6 expedited shipping I was able to get both items. What a deal!  So although I'm a few days behind on finishing my January coat (I'll explain in my next post) I'm SO happy that I finally won a Velvaboard. Thanks sooooo much Mad14kt for the heads up!!! Now I can hopefully proceed with plans to sew some corduroy pants before it get's warm.
I'm super excited and hopefully it will come before my Birthday on next week (the 9th).  So I've dwindled my Christmas list down--4 down 3 to go. I plan to place an order for my clothing labels this week and pick up the draping tape within the next month or so--no rush on that. That leaves a custom dressform from Andy's of NYC and a Coverstitch machine (my bonus item not listed). We'll see what happens...... the year is very young.


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