Friday, May 30, 2008

Patrones Extra 268

I managed to get a copy of the May Patrones Extra, #268, by asking a friend vacationing in Spain to look for it. Begging non-sewing friends to find something called 'Patrones' is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. But chocolate is chocolate, and in general I'm not picky. If I'm not careful this could lead to the sickness known as 'pattern magazine collecting', which I'm fairly certain Cidell suffers from. Admission is the first step, hun.

There's a lot of great designer dresses in this one, plus a pretty good safari-inspired spread, and a maternity and large size selection.



Some of my other favorites.

Monday, May 19, 2008

I lied

So I did not even touch DH's shirt over the weekend, I ended up having to return my library copy of Shirtmaking and had no access to the seam allowance chart I started following.* I had a lovely time on Friday afternoon with the sewing ladies who invited me to the Haute Couture Societe show, we met up at one of their homes for a little show-and-tell, sewing chat, and iced tea. (Thank you for hosting Ann!) I was lamenting on my lack of sewing motivation and they wisely recommended a quick simple project to get me going.

I've been meaning to make a muslin of this Simplicity pattern I just had to have after I saw Erica B.'s version, so I figured this was a good opportunity to dig it out.

Simplicity 2938

It's a tank style top with 3 front pieces, the center panel has unsewn pleats at the neckline, and the seams are mostly vertical, falling over the bust line. There is a center back seam and it calls for a side zipper, however I prefer a back zipper and put it there instead. Note: if you move the zipper to the back, add a seam allowance to the back facing piece. Preferably before you cut out the fabric. Not that I would forget something as simple as that, but for you absent-minded readers. :-)

Coral linen?, maybe a blend from a free Fabric Mart bundle

I always trace my patterns onto pattern-tracing cloth, my product of choice at the moment is swedish tracing paper. No I don't prefer to make life difficult, I like to use the pieces as a first muslin. Sometimes I make a full set of pieces, especially if I'm going to be using a print fabric and want to have more control over the print distribution when cutting. This time I just did a half and sewed the pieces together to check the fit. It was very baggy at the waist, and since I knew I didn't want to sew a belt or a ribbon I modified the fit.

Front side panel, cut in under the bust to appear more like a princess seam

Back piece, 3/4" swayback adjustment

I cut a straight size 12 and made the two modifications above, plus added an inch to the length all around. When I got ready to hem I decided to shape the hem, making it shorter at the sides and longer in front and back, so I ended up cutting of that inch at the sides. The armholes fit pretty well but one of them gaps a little more than the other, it probably got stretched during construction. Next time I will stabilize it with a fusible right after cutting. I made matching bias binding for the armholes, and the neckline is finished with a facing. The facing pieces seemed a bit too wide at the bottom, I will take a look at it next time but i don't think it was from my modifications.

Even though it was a muslin, it was turning out pretty wearable so I used french seams on all but the back seam (is there a way to do an enclosed seam with a zipper?). French seams are great for linen because you don't have to worry about fraying, everything is enclosed. The facing was trying to flip to the outside so I tacked it down with some stich witchery at the shoulder seams and the front pleat, since the fabric is doubled over there you can't see it from the front. I hand tacked it at the 2 front french seams. I left the raw edge of the facing unfinished because I was being lazy, because of the fusible interfacing it's not going anywhere but I usually prefer to bind it.

So overall I'm pretty happy with the pattern, I have several colors of silk charmeuse earmarked for a TNT cami/shell pattern. My wardrobe is severely lacking in cute tops to wear under a cardi or suit jacket, or alone tucked into high-waisted pants and skirts. I might tweak this one a bit more to nip in the waist, make it longer so I can tuck it in, and then call it good.

*And honestly I probably wouldn't have worked on it anyways, after working so long on other people's projects I really just wanted to sew something for ME.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Next Up

I'm not done sewing for other people yet, even though my stash is calling to me from its newly organized home. I snagged some of this Armani shirting from Michael's Fabrics last month with a shirt for DH in mind.

I read a bunch of reviews on and settled on this Kwik Sew pattern, 2777. It's a standard dress shirt with double yoke, separate front band, short or long sleeve with placket, and collar and separate stand.

I started tracing off the pattern last weekend and quickly got bogged down, I'm trying to follow David Page Coffin's methods in his Shirtmaking book. (This is an excellent book that I have checked out of the library more times than I can count, I need to purchase it.) First I flat-measured one of DH's shirts that fits him well and compared those to the Kwik Sew. I had to trace in between 2 and sometimes 3 sizes to get it close to fitting. Once I had all the pieces traced out, I turned my attention to the seam allowances. Kwik Sew uses 1/4" for everything, and since I was planning to use flat-felled seams I opened up the Coffin book just to check how much I need to do them. I just about fell over when I saw the diagram, he uses a range from 1/8" to 7/8" and everything in between, not just for the seams to be flat-felled but ALL OF THEM. I started trimming and adding, trying to keep track of which ones are where since my traced pieces started with 1/4" allowances. Sewing is supposed to be fun, right? I got about halfway through and ran out of steam, drinking beer seemed like a much better idea at the time. My goal is to have a muslin by the end of this weekend.

My only plans so far are for tomorrow afternoon, I'm meeting the lovely ladies from the sewing group for a get together at one of their homes. Unfortunately I don't have anything to show off due to my lack of productivity last weekend. Maybe this little meetup is what I need to get motivated.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Haute Couture Societe Annual Fundraiser/Fashion Show

Last Sunday I was graciously given an extra ticket to a fashion show/luncheon/fundraiser for a group based in Stockton, CA called the Haute Couture Societe. They focus on fashion design and fine needle arts with monthly meetings, workshops, field trips, and a scholarship program for students pursuing an education in fashion. I met several ladies at the PR weekend in LA who are members of this group, they were kind enough to invite me into their 'sewing lives' (they have get togethers on their own) which included this event. (Thank you for the ticket Kelly!)

First off, I have to apologize for the terrible photography. I snapped a few, but most of the ones I took during the fashion show didn't turn out at all. I will try to dazzle you with my extraordinary literary skills. Anyhoo...

Before the fashion show I had time to walk around and check out some of the garments on display, all made by members, as well as the tables full of raffle prizes and silent auction items.

Yellow silk dress

Petticoat and cami

Raffle prizes, all donated

Then the fashion show began, they had a runway set up in the middle of the room in between all the banquet tables. Many of the members and various family members modeled garments they had made. There was a wide variety of projects, lots of wearable art, children's clothes, as well as standard pattern fare and self-drafted pieces. The two 'celebrities' for the day were Rami Kim and Marina Glazer. Rami is a fabric artist with a new book out right now on folding fabric techniques. She modeled several of her garments and while not my style, they were breathtaking to look at. Marina is a designer based out of the San Francisco Bay Area, she had several models there to showcase her dresses, thankfully they saved her creations for last so the mere mortals would not have to get up on the catwalk after the 6-foot tall models.

While my camera failed me on taking stills, I managed to capture a video of one of Marina's dresses. It's only about 30 seconds long, when you get to the end look for the older gentleman helping the model down the stairs. I was taken with this man, he is obviously up there in years but he offered his hand to everyone who came down the stairs. So cute.

One of the ladies in our group modeled several of her garments, we of course cheered her on. After her last change, she came back to our table and sat down to watch the rest of the show. We were starving by the time the show was over, so I did not get a pic of the yummy chicken breast sandwich and salad they served us. I think we all inhaled it. However I did take a picture of Barbara's dessert, only because they hadn't brought mine yet and I was staring at hers in anticipation.

And then I realized I hadn't taken a picture of my outfit, this is Burda 7783 in navy cotton with my red J.crew shoes. In the bathroom. After eating. And I'm all wrinkled. I have no shame. :-)

I had a wonderful time and will be meeting up with these ladies again next weekend, hopefully to work on/show off some of my own things! If you would like more information about Haute Couture Societe, their phone number is 209-648-0637. They do not have a website. Their monthy meetings go from September through May so the last one is here in another week or so.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Christina at assorted notions tagged me with this literary meme:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

Okay prepared to be bored. I was in the lab at work when I read Christina's post, so now you can try to figure out what kind of lab work I do when I'm not sewing.

This is from 'Introduction to Focused Ion Beams' Ed. Lucille Gianuzzi and Fred Stevie.

"And this encapsulation will generally ruin the device by either floating the structures off the surface or crushing them. FIB tools can cross-section MEMS class devices without damaging the unsupported/released structures. Figure 19 shows a tilted view of one pixel of a DLP device, which is a MOEMS device."

Now I will frantically try to choose 5 more people before everyone else does:

Pirouette, Emily, narcissaqtpie, Loopylulu, and Erica B. Play along if you like!

Saturday, May 3, 2008


Man I don't think I've ever wanted to be finished with something so bad. I started a knockoff of this Michael Kors dress back in January, it was for a friend who lives on the other side of the country so we mailed muslins back and forth getting the fit right. Then she spent another month looking for fabric. The past couple weeks have been spent desperately trying to finish it up, I ran into problem after problem with the collar and hems. I have come to the realization that ripping out and redoing handstitching is my least favorite sewing activity EVER.

However, it is done, and we now have a magnificent wool dress in May. Details, details.



Inside out, from the back. Bias-bound seams: neckline, waistline, and hem.
Hong-kong finish: sleeve hems, armholes

And here we have the source of most of my frustration, the collar. Isn't it pretty? Looks like it just went together all by itself, huh.

Yeah *&^%$#@ right. I had practiced making it several times with the muslins and determined it would need to be mostly handstitched, to get it to work with the invisible zipper. I sewed it to the neckline by machine, leaving out the outer layer when I got near the CB seam, then put in the invisible zipper. I bound the bottom edge of one of the seam allowances, trimmed the other, and handstitched it to the underlining, not once but twice. The first time I unknowingly caught part of the wool thickness in my stitches and when I turned it right side out there were all these puckers.

I tacked down the inside of the collar to the other size of the zip by hand, and then slipstitched the folded collar to the outside of the dress to hold it in place. So the zip is sandwiched in between the 2 layers of the collar, and the fold lays nicely on the outside of the dress.

Collar showing zipper

The collar wasn't the only item to be handstitched twice. I had originally bias-bound the sleeve hems rather messily, my bias tape wasn't quite wide enough to go over the thick parts of the sleeve hems and I had frayed edges of fabric sticking out. I was going to let it go, until I tried the dress on and raised my arms. Those lovely bell sleeves leave no room for messes at that hem, you can see everything. *Sigh* So out came the bias binding and on went a hong-kong finish and another hand hem.

Sleeve hem, hong-kong finished and hand-stitched to the underlining

So as my first 'sew for hire' project, I've learned a few things. Which I was hoping to do. (Actually it isn't really for hire, the only thing my friend payed for was the fabric, I smartly decided my work wasn't good enough or timely enough yet to charge). Sewing on a deadline is hard. Normally little roadblocks would stop me from working on a project until I had thought about it some more. Often another week or two would give me the time to think of a solution to a problem, and I'd pick it up again after maybe working on something else. When you have a deadline (which I didn't really have either, I suck) you have to just keep going. This led to some less-than-ideal results which had to be redone anyways.

If I ever do this again I will take into consideration how much fitting is involved, what kind of finishing to use (I approached this as I would something for myself, which probably wasn't time or cost effective), and what kind of timeline I'd be under. When you have to work on something as opposed to just wanting to, it kind of takes the fun out of it. But I know my friend will be thrilled with the outcome, even if it took longer than we both expected.

Friday, May 2, 2008

My first Patrones

After reading Cidell's recent post on Patrones magazine, I sent a friend in NYC out in search of the new issues. I had heard Around the World magazines there carried it, not wanting to shell out the $30 it would cost on ebay to have it airmailed. She didn't find the recent issues, but she did find the August 2007 for $10!

I was immediately drawn to these two coat patterns:

Maybe I just have trenches on the brain since buying fabric from Michaels a month ago. The issue has 57 patters, including 4 formal dresses, maternity, and tall sizes. I don't even know where to start!